When Henry Montelongo found out he wasn't going to inherit his late father's fortune, he stormed out of the attorney's office. A few minutes later, his wife dialed 911 after Montelongo grabbed a handgun and drove off. Montelongo's wife told dispatch he may be headed to his father's business.
The office staff at his father's business was accustomed to Montelongo's rudeness and bizarre behavior, but they fled the warehouse when he walked past a row of cubicles with a gun tucked in his waistband.
The parking lot leading up to the front of the warehouse was barren except for a single light pole. Officer Diaz was assigned to cover the front of the warehouse while his colleagues covered the rear exit.
When Montelongo stepped out of the front of the building, Diaz had already gone prone, recognizing that the thin light post was not reassuring cover, but its concrete base was. Diaz went through the multitasking motions unique to police work: giving decisive commands, communicating on the radio and keeping the gun on the suspect all while maintaining the prone position. Officer Diaz's use of the prone position kept him behind cover and gave him the tactical advantage.
For the rifle competitor, the prone position is the most accurate and predictable of shooting platforms. It is also the platform from which all other shooting skills should be learned. The rifle competitor creates a marriage among his shooting platform, the ground and the rifle to steady the shot.
The priorities of going prone for law enforcement shooting should be to cover, conceal, prolong deployment and stabilize, emphasizing a balance between minimum exposure and mobility. Officers with a pistol do not go prone to slowly squeeze off a precision shot, but instead they are responding to a particular tactical situation. If the officer must use cover that is less than a couple of feet tall, as in Diaz's scenario, going prone is a viable option.
In all environments, including urban, rural and natural, structures offer more bullet resistance closest to the ground. Most trees have their thickest taper near the roots. Most man-made objects, even decorative ones like columns and posts, will have the majority of their architectural strength closest to the base. Officers should choose the thickest cover, especially if the composition of the material is questionable.
Firing close to the ground will kick up dust and muzzle flash can be exaggerated, which may compromise the location of the concealed officer. If the tactical situation allows, backing up prevents oblique angle observers from getting a fix on the prone user's position.
There are three major types of prone firing positions: Olympic, military and rollover prone. The Olympic prone position is designed for slow-controlled accuracy. Shooters bring their elbows close together, raising the head, neck and some of the torso off the ground. The firing-side hip is raised slightly off the ground by bending one knee.
The Olympic prone position is for slow firing where accuracy has a higher priority over shooter protection. That is, one can safely fire from behind cover in this manner, but the officer's vest offers no protection and the forehead is in high profile.
The military prone position uses both legs extended behind the body with the chest, hips and knees squarely placed on the ground. It is designed to get the majority of the body behind minimal cover. Going military prone is simple and users will resort to it naturally. It is a viable solution for many situations, except that it requires the user to crane his or her neck and hold it.
The rollover prone position is comfortable and can be applied for sustained ops. Officers rest their head on the shooting arm, lowering the profile and steadying the shot. For a right handed shooter, the right cheek touches the right shoulder and bicep. The non-firing side leg is bent, getting the diaphragm off the ground and keeping objects in the front of the officer's belt from impeding the shot. It is easier to assume and provides a quicker recovery to effect the arrest.