6 tips for building the perfect fighting hole

Fighting holes have been around for decades, used as effective defensive positions by armed troops to stymie the enemy’s deadly offensive. Some branches refer to these dug-in positions as “foxholes,” but both references mean the same.

Now, how a fighting hole is constructed depends solely on the amount of time a troop intends to spend occupying it. If they plan on staying in the fight from that position for a prolonged period of time, the dig will be more complicated.

So, for those who plan on making a fighting hole their new home for the next few days, keep reading.

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1. Locate the perfect position

Finding a spot on the high ground is ideal for any fighting hole. It will give you the best view of the territory, so you can see the bad guys before they see you.

2. Dig the hole to armpit depth

Typically, fighting holes are four to five feet deep. At this depth, when the troop gets inside, they can comfortably stand and keep their facing rifles outward without getting fatigued.

If the fighting hole isn’t deep enough, the soldier will have to squat to maintain proper cover. This can get very uncomfortable.

digging a perfect fighting hole

Pvt. Codi Hoffman waits in a fighting position that he and a few fellow Soldiers built during a battalion-wide field training exercise. (Photo by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord)

3. Make it just wide enough

Most two-men fighting holes are built at least a few feet wide. The construction is meant to protect the service member if a tank rolls over them, but it can’t be so wide that the tank gets stuck on top — trapping them inside.

That would suck… but it’s better than being crushed.

4. Pack the parapet just right

A “parapet” is a low, protective wall that runs along the edge of the fighting hole. This mound of soil acts as “micro-terrain” and doubles as the position’s camouflage. Packing the soil in tight only helps protect the troop from incoming enemy rounds.

digging a perfect fighting hole

5. Dig an additional grenade/water sump just in case

In the image above, the soldier has his feet placed in a lowered area of the fighting hole. This is called a grenade or water sump.

This well helps collect unwanted water, and, if a grenade is tossed in the hole, it can be detonated in a pit, dishing out little-to-no harm to the occupying troop. Brillant, right? Build two — just in case.

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6. Create overhead coverage

This coverage helps protect the soldier inside from various incoming piece of shrapnel and it helps keep the hole warm. So, make sure you add overhead coverage if you plan on staying in that defensive long.

digging a perfect fighting hole