Practical Advice: Fighting In The Forest

From a WRSA commenter:

Firing Port Training is excellent Training considering 90% of people live in a major city surround by potential Firing Ports.

But what if you end up in the woods?

How to Properly Use a Tree or the entire Forest for cover.

1) You can flag your barrel around a tree and tuck in very tightly, but you sacrifice visibly and, you will give away your position with constant movement to scan for targets; If you stack up on a tree, make sure you have a buddy(Or Buddies) watching your other angles. Communicate and Identify these sectors of fire.

When Setting your sectors of fire in a woodline there are a few things you want.

A) You want maximum overlap of sectors of fire on THE FARTHEST trees you can from what you believe to be the enemies most likely point of attack. This will prevent your enemy from using these trees against you. Giving you MAX visibility on their Cover(A Round Tree).

B) A solid Healthy Hardwood Living Tree. Not a dead piece punky lumber or a wimpy pine tree(Although some pines are quite dense). Avoid the trees that are laying down. They are most often old and rotting so they make for poor cover, infested with annoying insects and spiders, vermin, and potentially Fleas from the vermin, and you’ll be breathing in moist toxic air full of spores from God knows what. I have had a sinus infection from sleeping next to pile of dead lumber. It’s best to just avoid dead wood. There is much better cover nearby. Also, Some trees have some nasty sap. Avoid Sap Trees, It will be all over everything; In your hair, your gear, and your skin. Its hard to clean and is irritating to most people after it sits on your skin for a while.

2) You can be offset from the tree. It really doesn’t matter how far away from the tree you are as long as you are not under direct fire when you chose your tree, or are going to initiate an ambush from this position. In fact, hugging a tree too closely makes for poor visibility, and requires you to move your head around A LOT to properly scan your area. I avoided getting to close to trees because of this rounded nature. If someone misses you and hits the tree next to your head, The bullet has a good chance of bouncing into your face, which effectively doubles the size of your enemies target(Your Head). Stay off the tree please.

Use your eyes to scan rapidly, and your head to pan SLOWLY.

This will prevent you from giving away your position. This also requires practice to exercise your eye muscles. If you haven’t done woodline treeing for a while, you will exhaust the muscles in your eyes and have trouble keeping your eyes open past 24 hours. Maybe Less. Practice stretching and exercising your eyeball muscles. This can be done throughout the day, and helps for long periods when you stare through a scope all day.

3) What ever you choose as cover, avoid scuffing up the trees, algae, and moss too much. It takes very long for this stuff to grow, and will give away activity very readily for up to a year in most areas outside of the south.

4) Big Bullets go through living trees at close range. Small Bullets sometimes go through living trees(Hard Or Soft Wood?) at short range.

5) Pick a tree that is about the width of your shoulders with a rifle up when in the prone. Practice this move on a column in your home or around that tree outback. If you are behind a tree, in the prone, using it as cover, peering around the “Right” side of you tree(Rifle Up). You can slightly roll to your left side(Staying behind your tree) WHILE pulling your weapon back and swinging down so the rifle looks likes its in a tight “Low Ready”, Switch hands for a “Goofey” Or “Left Hand” grip on the weapon, then, complete the roll out, and post up quickly on the other side of your tree. This is the best way to change sides of a tree without giving away what you are doing to your enemy. Or getting ripped up by gunfire exposing yourself. It’s fast, uncomplicated, and will feel natural if executed properly.

6) Your enemy will not, and can not, maneuver or flank you quietly through the more dense parts of the forest. FYI, every wooded environment has areas that come in different densities. You cannot move through the dense areas quietly. These make excellent back drops if you are short on Eyes and Ears. And You can dive into them real quick to escape being completely overwhelmed. At that point some brave enemy has to flush you out. Which will be near suicide. You should have a few minutes to gather yourself and plan something while they try to burn you out, bomb you out, or flush you out.

Regardless, You are the Shark. I recommend Swimming away as fast as possible, but you do get a second chance to initiate an ambush. I recommend running, You ARE being flanked. If you blow through the thicket or draw, you can probably catch their flanking element. 50/50 odds they go left or right.

Also, Dense thickets of fleshy and woody plants can slow down and deflect bullets a lot more than you would think.

7) Stay at least ten feet into the thick woods, and ten meters into the open woods, if you border an open plain or a field.

8) If you are in Sage Brush, In a fresh set of Army ACUS, you are very scary.

9) Rock a 100 meter Zero in the Woodline on a bolt gun. Inches matter when someone is tucked into a tree or behind a tree.

10) Wildlife will investigate you eventually. Birds will fly away from you.

11) If you plan to fell some trees and make some cover or level 3 fighting positions, two small trees with dirt in between is better than a large tree. Large trees are hard to move, make for a sore back when you need to shoot over them or pull security, and open the canopy more when you cut them down(Increasing the potential for being spotted by aerial recon)

12) If you take a pile of slightly moist(Not Damp or Wet) organic material(Leaves/Needles) and pour some gas mixed with oil on it. You can light this up and create a blueish white smoke out that is worth ten smoke Grenades. Very cheap and effective. Checking your wind can help, bad smoke is better than no smoke. Helps you run away when some dude at 200-300 meters is trying to kill you. It could block or obscure his LOS. He probably wont be able to IDFF. Could second guess himself. Doesn’t hurt to smoke. Makes a good Plan B escape.

50 responses to “Practical Advice: Fighting In The Forest

  1. I’ve lived in the woods my whole life and this guy is a retard..
    WRS is losing cred publishing dipshits that have never tracked and harvested a whitetail buck let alone the enemy..

    • Specfic objections, rather than ad hominem.

      Better yet, give us your version of the same material.

      Comment here or send to

    • really? you have no cred due to lack of any counterpoint cogent or not. Please rebut the material point by point, if you can. I live in ruralish WA state and I can tell you that what was presented is not only well described, it is rather refreshing in its clear and simple language and is perfect for those who need the info. It is a perfect conversation starter for others with experience to embellish and expand the communities knowledge Is it a panacea for all AO’s of course not, but each reader will be able to mix and match the info for his AO. Yes you obviously have been living in the woods your whole life, so long in fact that you cant see the trees…….. #assneck

    • Seth Rogen?

      This dude 50 meter zeroes.

  2. For Future References. My stuff is Unpolished and Unedited.

    Please inquire below for specifics. I will answer until comments are closed. I will make a Fly Formula for .308(7.62×51) and 7.62×39 this weekend. I can do a video tutorial if you like.

    Things I neglected to mention.

    1)Grazing Fire with Tracers will set fires. Use this as necessary. Grazing Fire is when you skim your rounds into the fallen timber, leaves, needles, and dead fall. Also works on grass. All kinds of grass.

    2) The woods are full of small depressions and natural hideouts. Find them. They are there. You just have to look.

    3) Use an expanding “Clover Leaf” Pattern when you are searching the woods. You familiarize yourself with your area, and a Spiral Pattern is simple for your enemy to retrace when you leave. A Clover Pattern burns up more time for them to properly sweep and clear(And You) But you have time. They do not.

    4) Watch out for booby traps. Specifically the all natural ones. I have fallen into 10 foot deep pits that naturally occur in the woods. Be careful at night.

    5) Do not camp near the water at the base of a mountain stream. You will have a 10 foot wall of water, sticks, and mud on top of you without even seeing one raindrop.

    6) When You have to stand up, you can use trees to eliminate angles on you. You can also use several trees at different distances to “Stack” and give you more cover. Check the different trees around you for the best “Stacking”.

    7) As you move through the woodline, You should already know what tree you are going to dive behind. Pick a tree BEFORE someone shoots at you. Not after.

    8) Return Fire AS you move to cover.

    9) You will be deaf shooting in the woodline. The bang bangs echo off the trees and leaves, it is unforgiving. Hand Signals. Hand Signals, Hand Signals.

    10) If you Kneel, You take a round through an arm, leg, or torso.

    If you go prone, it goes through your face, organs, and out your ass.

    If you are gonna get shot. Pick the position that Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon were in. Had they been prone, The first rounds to hit them would have killed them immediately. Kneeling keep them in the fight for a few more dead bad guys. They also had better angles.

    Going prone CAN hide you from your enemy, and works both ways.
    If he can’t see you, You can’t see him.
    If you can’t see him, you can’t shoot him.
    If you can’t shoot him, you can’t kill him.
    If you can’t kill him, We can’t win.

    Not everyone is gonna make it. Consider it a Blessing we made it this far.

    When I first started real world foot patrols as a young Paratrooper, I was always moving as tactically as possible. After some time, I realized you can only do so much. At a certain point, you gotta face the facts.

    Free men, of sound minds and bodies, are a precious resource lately. Don’t throw yourselves away. Good Judgment is primary. Everything else follows.

    • Hi RS,
      Thanks for all the tips! Hell yes to a video tutorial!! Please post it here for all to see.

      Yours in Daily Armed Liberty via anarchy!
      Northgunner III

  3. Excellent lessons, thank you.

    And, yes, you can carry smoke with you. In your vehicles, your EDC, BOBs, load-out, etc.

    Legal (for now), civilian options that work well:

    Not just for “paintball enthusiasts.”

    • They have some Mil-X that are very close to mil-spec smoke. They are hard to get in the states but they are out there.

  4. as a general rule.

    trees are NOT great cover.

    I put rounds thru 12″ diameter trees routinely…

    • Yeah, but they’re still more dense than air. And the bonus is,nearly every one I’ve been around is opaque. 👍🏻

    • In that case, good for overgrown chop sticks:

      Good information Rockstar22

    • Correct and in fact, the standard US Military AP round is specifically designed for 12 inch trees IIRC. Has been for some time.

  5. Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Tactical Preparedness

  6. Rock on Rock. My kind of terrain. My training is in the hunt. If you can stalk the animal for your shot, you’re getting somewhere.

    You speak with a warrior mind. If you were in my woods, I’d be worried.

    • I shoot my deer in the face. Last one dropped at 80 yards in WV. Hit her(2-3 year) right in the temple in a apple orchard.

      I had a 100 meter zero. I put my Leupold MkVI TMR Cross hair right on the little bit below the top of her head.

      She didn’t feel a thing.

      100 Meter zero on bolt guns… In the woodline… Because… All the Reasons.

  7. Well parts of that were bullshit. Starting an uncontrolled fire in the woods of Kentucky will give smoke–from a forest fire. UNCONTROLED Fire in the forest is not your friend. It might end the firefight but It WILL burn off all the available concealment, and turn the civilian population against you. Most of the forest east of the Mississippi river have been cut over several times. Large trees are rare. So “tree size” advice is mostly bullshit. Most forest are woodlots ,filled with small trees and underbrush ,less than one mile across with large open spaces between. Think West Germany in the 70’s and 80’s. Small woodlots with farms in between dotted with human habitation every one or two kilometers. This go’s for most of the “National Forest” system east of the big river too. Outside places like Appalachia, you should plan for “Fulda Gap” type engagements. Lots of open space and rolling hills, and outright flat spots dotted with small woodlots. Ideal tank country. Pines and evergreens are rare in most of the “cove hardwood ecosystem” in the Eastern US . So is daytime concealment in winter. The shovel, pick and saw is of more use to you, than any other tool you can carry. Covered bunkers offer visual and THERMAL concealment the trees don’t, and cannot, for six months out of the year. Obviously the commenter never heard the term “tree burst” used in forest fighting. But I’ll bet every gunner and trained infantryman on the other side has. Because of strip mining, AGG. run off, and human population density ground water is often polluted and undrinkable even with filters, boiling , and Chem. treatment, in most of the Eastern US. There are also several large Radioactive and Toxic waste dumps dotted up and down Appalachia. Many of them date back to the WW2 “A” bomb projects, and are covered in inviting, and quite toxic, forest. As are tens of thousands of old and VERY toxic strip mines. It might be a good idea to include stuff like that in your planning. As Heavy metal, and Radioactive poisons are not your friend. You should also remember the European scale road net in the Eastern US. “Being flanked” is having 30 guys drive you into the 300 guys that drove the two miles to get behind you. The guy who wrote this read a lot of FM’s. Too bad he didn’t look at a map.

  8. Only one thing to add, and it should be obvious. You’d best know your woods! When visible landmarks can disappear in less than 100yds, lost is what you quickly become when things get froggy. And this guy suggesting 200-300 yard ranges in woods doesnt seem to be familiar with Appalachia. Maybe from a bald, but then ya aint in the woods anymore.
    God forbid, but I am going to agree with tfat on this one. I have personally shot 7.62x54r THROUGH a 16″ white oak and cracked a cinderblock in two with it. In spring time, the trees ‘get soft’ as they pick up sap. Late fall and winter, they are much tougher. Keep that in mind if you insist on using them as cover. Rocks (and we have plenty) work far better.

    • most of these guys are brainwashed into believing the 5.56 is the end all..

      it’s a sporting round. that’s all.

      use a Buick- not a Prius.

      • Sporting round and that’s all? That’s not what I’ve seen at my place of work, where the surgeons all agree that any 5.56 round (besides the steel tipped) create the worst cavitation wounds they have to deal with, and are the most difficult wounds to repair.

        • sure it’s devastating to flesh.

          still won’t go thru a tree like a 7.62

        • Randall Flagg

          Do the surgeons know what range between shooter and shootee? I’d guess 200-yds or less. At that range, half the battle has already been lost.

          Go long, or get ready to play the sport of cowboys and injuns.

          • Randall Flagg

            PS: Those surgeons prolly haven’t seen too may .30 cal wounds ’cause those dudes are at the morgue.

        • All is dependant on the speed of the bullet. Rockstar will likely clue us in on how 7.62×39 performs, that round which has wounded GIs for the last fifty or so years and which has failed to stop many that it has hit.

  9. Thanks for the tips on shooting in the woods. Our woods down in desert scrub has additional issues – thorns. Cactus, mesquite, ebony, huisache – all ‘blessed’ with thorns that making moving through it quietly harder because it all grabs at your pack and clothing. . Works for you when tracking others around you. If they aren’t used to that terrain, they stick to game / cattle trails so as to move quieter and more quickly.

    Stinging insects (fire ants – scorpions – centipedes – poisonous spiders – mosquitos), not to mention poisonous snakes are other concerns. These can make your life miserable when living out there. Hammocks are very useful to avoid these pests when sleeping out.

    Learning to move through that stuff quietly takes practice, especially when carrying a pack. Small steps so you don’t lose your balance. Dead but still hanging wood snap very loudly, marking your location. A plain wood hiking staff helps you with that, but is another thing to keep track of. Minimize pack bulk – objects that project only snag the brush. Much noisier and slows you down.

    Thanks for the post – this old dog learned some new tricks. :^)

  10. Thomas T. Tinker

    Je-sus Christos……….. Take the info/opinion and tweak it to fit your location. Like the 25 yard zero post, to many commandos crapping all over motivational material. How many of us have bothered to walk our own street to know what cover and concealment is there. Ask any Viet Vet just how familiar the gooks were with their…. back yards. Howbout the hajis crawiling around the dunes and rock piles…. Those folks were… are… fighting on ‘Thier Land’ that we…. invaded. At least I don’t remember getting an invitation in the mail. Shut the F–k up and learn your own turf.

  11. The enemy has thermal NVG. If you can’t defeat it, you die first. The enemy likes to come at 0 dark thirty.

  12. During WW2 the Japs had great success with the “buttonhook maneuver”. Keep moving, creating an obvious trail to follow, circle back WIDE and guess what. The hunters are now your prey. Mobility isn’t worth trading for a tree to hide behind while you await your fate.

  13. I’m remembering the Wilderness Campaign, back during the War between the States, where the woods were set on fire, and both sides lost healthy and also wounded men to the fire and smoke. Certainly want to avoid that. Using smoke grenades can start those kind of fires, but I highly recommend them for extraction and tactical moves of ingress or egress. The basis for Individual Tactical Techniques is that if you can be seen, you can be hit and killed, Cover AND concealment are the name of the game. Smoke grenades can be life savers. The Freedomistas at this point lack much in armaments and equipment. We’ll have to use what we have, in the beginning anyway. Great Post.

    • I have personal experience setting the woods on fire with smoke grenades.
      Search plane overhead: Copy we see your blue smoke, over.
      a minute goes by
      Search plane: Did you copy our last transmission over?
      Us: Wait one we are dealing with something.
      Emptying canteens on the burning leaves and grass…..

      • Reminds me of a time in South Korea after
        the training, we where asked to eliminate
        extra stuff (don’t know why). Lots of pop-up flares
        too, so before we knew it, there where dozens
        of South Koreans picketing with signs and chanting
        regarding the fires we where setting on their mountain
        forest near by. Someone must of had angled pop-ups
        towards the wrong way.

        Come to think of it, what about utilization of night flares
        to get brighter view of incoming enemies? Night vision now
        does away with that for sure (answered my own question).
        Hearing enhancements?

  14. Jimmy the Saint

    Important tip from the Wilderness Campaign of the Late Unpleasantness: the woods burn rather nicely.

  15. I will give a couple of points, from my location of piney woods.

    Pine trees can be very dense and wide. I have a pine tree eight feet from my door that is at least four feet wide. Also, if you have any pine trees around, there is a good possibility that 90% of the other trees are also pines. Sometimes we don’t have a choice to pick a hardwood tree. In my area, you either take cover behind a pine, or you don’t take cover at all.

    Poster mentions Army ACUs. Which ones? UCP or OCP?

    Anywhere with a deer population is going to have scuffed trees. I agree that you don’t want to go around and scuff every tree in arm’s reach, but a scuffed tree has at least as much chance to be a deer antler scuff as it does an enemy trooper, assuming deer are common in that area.

  16. I enjoy reminders on patrol tactics but most of the commies I’ve encountered don’t spend much time in the wild spaces. But for those that do the best camo is a Sierra Club hat and a Nature Conservancy sticker on your bumper. The best weapon is to ask them to come visit your church and watch the retreat back to the Subaru.

    I suspect when the time comes to deliver lead therapy most will be within frag throwing range, likely down a stairwell or into a funnel feature because meeting them on their terms on the street is suboptimal. If the hostiles are on payroll a little noise at the right time may instigate a little friendly fire fun. Hardware cloth inside windows is good for a rebound oh shit moment. Full size mirrors in halls are another good space prep that women usually don’t object to. Really good thermal works somewhat through many light walls so consider what chaff might make that tactic less useful. Back to the woods tactics, high sectional density rounds like anything 6.5 or heavy 308s need a lot of timbers to stop them. Something to think about from both ends.

    But I will admit when hiking I find it fun to guess and then to range find landmarks and consider good spots for fighting holes. One of my ex climbing pals used to spend a lot of free lance work time covering up his backtrail and is really good at spotting game and human movement track off trails and has an eye for cache spots. There are a lot of mental games that can be played when out exercising. Caching something useful but low value like water and checking on it every 6months is a good way to see what might be rooting around places ‘nobody goes’. When the time comes the woods and the mountains are a good place to make your peace and move on, whatever the circumstances.

  17. The high plains of Colorado have scrub oak and sporadic patches of pine and aspen.The mind set in combat situations is traps,pits,mines,IED’s, kill zones,caltrops,barbed wire,sharpened T-posts,camo and rapid deployment to include dirt bikes,ATV,Jeeps and horseback. Hit and run,caves,ravines,washes,stream beds and wetlands are available assets.Ultralights,drones,telescopes,tripods,spotting scopes,night vison and quality binoculars are a must. High,constant wind has an impact on our use of directional microphones.We have them available. The best defense, in my experience, is never static or stationary.Fluid,designed movement is preferred. Lead and bait the dirty cocksuckers.Sat cong.

  18. In this tent at almost wintertime at 7000′, my reading is a re-do of “Forest Brothers”, a gift from the past from our host here if I recall correctly. The book is about some Lithuanian anti-Soviet freedom fighters that would not quit until they all got theirselves killed. For millienials or for folks in Rio Linda, these events took place post-WW2, in Europe, there are maps that tell you where.

    The book, and the setting, fit for me as strengthening agents. Others, likely can find their own sources of strength.

  19. Walter Sobchak

    Reblogged this on Midwest Pistol Combat Systems .

  20. Alfred E. Neuman

    Reblogged this on FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.