Article By Chris Fry / MDTS Training

We possess a number of ways to move in a combative environment and it is well documented that movement is a life saving tactic. Movement almost always helps us except maybe when attempting to engage a target with accurate gun fire. This guide will focus on the varied methods of vertical displacement taught in the MDTS level 1&2 course work. Vertical displacement in this context is movement along the vertical line or up and down through varied shooting positions. Vertical movement can aid us by making us a hard target when in a location where horizontal, forward or backward movement is inhibited, such as in a hallway. Vertical movement also aids us when attempting to establish a desired angle of fire or achieve maximum cover and/or concealment behind an object such as a vehicle, postal box or concrete Wal-Mart lamp piling in a parking lot.

Please note: This is meant to be a quick study guide not a treatise on positional shooting so adapt what is useful and discard what is not.

The following are (5) shooting positions along the vertical plane of movement:

Prone Position

Prone Position:

  • Lay as flat as possible
  • Align torso straight behind firearm
  • Feet flat with toes outboard as physical capabilities/limitations allow
  • High prone=up on elbows, Low prone=elbows splayed outward contact with inside of elbow and ground not on tips


  • Maximum body contact with max surface area = max stability
  • Extremely low profile
  • Limited mobility when compared to other shooting positions

Braced Kneeling

Braced Kneeling Position:

  • The knees should form a 90 degree angle with support side knee forward and strong side knee out to side
  • Instep flat for max stability in platform (more surface area), up on toes to initiate movement
  • Elbow on support knee= meat on bone not bone on bone


  • More stable than standing but less stable than prone
  • Easy transition from prone as fighting upward
  • Low profile for working around low obstacles/barricades
  • Slower recovery to standing and movement than other kneeling positions (see below)

Double Kneeling

Double Kneeling Position:

  • Both knees in contact with surface
  • Insteps flat for max stability or up on toes to initiate movement or change elevation
  • Excellent for working around two sides of an obstacle, barricade or narrow cover

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  • Stable low profile position
  • Can change elevation based upon physical abilities or limitations
  • Allows bilateral firearm operation without having to change platform
  • Limited mobility

Speed Kneeling

Speed Kneeling Position:

  • Strong side (gun side) knee down (max concealment behind cover/thigh mounted holster concerns)
  • Instep flat for max stability
  • Upper torso/turret remains the same as when standing
  • Knees form two 90 degree angles


  • Extremely rapid assumption and recovery depending upon physical abilities or limitations
  • Rapid lowering of profile
  • Requires one-leg lunge/squat to recover from
  • Strong side lower leg may present tripping hazard to team/family members

Half Squat

Half Squat Position:

  • Shoulder width stance
  • Weight forward
  • Displace/lower profile at least half height when standing or shooting off-hand


  • Rapid vertical displacement around/behind horizontal obstacles/barricades
  • Rapid recovery and ability to almost immediately move along horizontal plane

This is by no means a listing of ALL the vertical displacement shooting positions available. There are variations on those shown as well as others that have been left out. It is simply meant to be a guide for those who have attended an MDTS program of instruction or introduction to vertical displacement and shooting positions for those who have not.
Photos by Mike Centola of Allstar Tactical ( Big thanks to our model Mrs. Erica Centola of Allstar Tactical… She can RUN that AR, isn't afraid of getting down in the mud, scraped up, dirty or of being the only girl in a class with 16 guys; combative mindset, some have it and some don't.