Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Standard Toy Soldier Poses: The Kneeling Shooter


Granted that archers and crossbowmen could fire from a kneeling position. However, our kneeling soldier has origins in the days of firearms. The original firelocks were so awkward that they could only be fired from a standing position. One had to stand upright to load, shoulder and fire them. The coming of the flintlock, which was lighter, easier to handle and better balanced, allowed the use of the kneeling pose for firing. In time when armies massed firepower by massing their shooters into dense formations, kneeling made sense. It allowed an additional front rank to fire underneath the muskets of the rank standing behind them. So it was that the kneeling musketeer became part and parcel of armies from the early 1700s.

Kneeling to fire had three advantages over standing. It made the shooter a smaller target. It gave him better means to take advantage of cover and concealment. And most of all, it was a more stable pose from which to fire. This is why it is encouraged to this day. Of course, that mattered little to the men in firing lines from Queen Anne’s War to Gettysburg.

By the time of the Civil War, troops were encouraged to take advantage of cover. Kneeling was one way to do this. Also, kneeling men could lean their forward arm on fence or barricade, this giving a more stable pose and better accuracy. Kneeling also made it easier to lean against a tree or other object both for cover and to steady oneself.

For troops from the 20th Century to the present, kneeling has another advantage. From that position, it is easy to reload whether one’s weapon was to–fed or had magazines at the bottom. Reloading from the prone is a bit harder, since you have to reach underneath yourself to your ammo belt / pouches, and then reload as best you can.

The kneeling shooter is a mainstay of sets of soldiers in combat poses. He is also found in almost every bag of plastic army men. A few centuries of good shooting have assured his place among the other poses. And the kneeling shooter is a pose that is well-liked.

You can see the actual firing methods taught to armies here: http://www.thortrains.com/getright/shootr1.html

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