100% SOLDIER RIFLE QUALIFICATION AT HOME STATION, YES
The heart and soul of the infantryman is his shooting skills. It will be the rifle that will determine who wins or loses at JRTC using the MILES laser engagement system.It is the rifle which wins the war and/or secures the peace, take a look on the ground in Kosovo today.
But getting every Soldier qualified annually with the M16 service rifle is a chore that requires an outdoor range to be secured on an Army post, and a host of other details. If a Soldier misses the event he goes unqualified and unit readiness suffers. This problem is now solved. FM 23-9 M16A1 AND M16A2 RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP states: "The U.S. Army is constantly faced with training constraints such as lack of suitable real estate, safety restrictions, and cost of transporting troops to live-fire ranges. Short-range training ammunition allows training in small local training areas without fixed training facilities, in MOUT facilities, and in combat training theaters."
With 40 rounds of 5.56mm:
Soldiers hitting 22 or fewer targets are "unqualified".
Soldiers hitting 23 to 29 targets qualify as "marksman".
Soldiers hitting 30 to 35 targets qualify as "sharpshooter".
Soldiers hitting 36 to 40 targets qualify as "expert".
100% ANNUAL RIFLE QUALIFICATION NOW
The real source of the problem is the high-powered 5.56mm cartridge shot through the M16 family of assault rifles needed to qualify Soldiers requires an outdoor shooting range and thus, a UNIT training event/time must be arranged. M261 .22LR adaptors for the M16 do not replicate the recoil and flash of the rifle and are not considered substitutes capable of qualifying the Soldier on his weapon. But .22LR adaptors are good ways to practice using the AN/PVS-4 Night Vision Device attached to the service rifle/carbine and AN/PAQ-4C with AN/PVS-7B Night Vision Goggles under simulated night conditions. Early Short Range Training Ammunition (SRTA) flopped since it required a special M2 bolt to be used in place of the regular M16 bolt in order to get semi-automatic firing. Today, Olin-Winchester has a new 5.56mm reduced charge cartridge, firing a non-toxic, lead-free, 45-grain frangible round that can be shot safely by unmodified M16 rifles inside 25 meter INDOOR ranges with angled metal backstops. Dave Council, Manager, U.S. Military & Technical Contracts Administration, Winchester Ammunition writes:
PARADIGM-BUSTING ROUND: 5.56mm FRANGIBLE
"From an environmental/hazardous chemical point of view, yes, our
product is safe for use on any indoor range. The bullet and primer are both totally lead free. There is no risk of lead exposure, period. Regarding risk of ricochet, our engineer recommends a minimum range of 35 meters. Firing at this distance eliminates ricochet concerns and also extends the life of the range backstop. Winchester's 5.56mm Frangible product has been used safely on 25 meter indoor ranges equipped with backstops set at an angle. The 35 meter distance stated above is for the "worst case" ricochet condition where the range backstop plate is set at a 90 degree angle to the flight of the bullet. Steel backstop material of 3/4 inch thickness, high hard armor, 500 Brinnel minimum hardness is recommended."
I hope this information is helpful. Please contact me directly if you have any further questions.
(618) 258-3511 phone
(618) 258-3370 fax
The Olin-Winchester frangible 5.56mm round is $339/1000 rounds. A lot cheaper than buying expensive electronic simulations that no matter how good they are cannot qualify Soldiers with their service rifles. Obviously if we buy in greater numbers, the price goes down even further. POC:
Mr. Webb Cunningham
Senior Contract Administrator
(618) 258-3384 phone
(618) 258-2021 fax
Olin-Winchester also has the same lead-free frangible ammo for other calibers/sizes like 9mm Luger etc. that will keep unit indoor shooting ranges clean for years to come. We have shot this ammunition extensively in a 25 meter indoor range with no damage whatsoever to the range metal backstops--in fact it looks like a brass colored "bug" has splattered on a windshield. The frangible round disintegrates into nothing when it hits solid material.
Therefore, placing "C" modified targets behind a stack of sand bags (could be inside a plastic trash can) or MRE boxes filled with dirt at floor level where the angled range backstop begins will most definately stop the Winchester frangible 5.56mm round cold. Most bullets would be caught and kept inside the sand bags, thus the only clean up required would be the spent cartridge cases nearby the shooters. The "C" modified targets need to be at floor level for Soldiers in the prone on sleeping mats with a sand bag 25 meters away to engage.
What this means is that many National Guard Infantry units with indoor shooting ranges in their home station armories can qualify their Soldiers on the service rifle using the indoor 5.56mm ammo and the "C" modified course of fire ANY TIME the unit meets. Units that do not have an indoor training range could build a "tire house" (or more accurately a "tire lane") outside to create a 25 meter range. If a Soldier couldn't be at the annual rifle qual event for whatever the reason, the very first opportunity he shows up, you march him to the 25m indoor shooting range, helmet/LBE on, ear plugs in, have him Battlesight Zer0 (BZO) his rifle and shoot the "C" modified course of fire and qualify him under the watchful eye of a NCOIC marksmanship instructor.
25-Meter Alternate-Course Scaled Qualification Target 50- to 300-meter scaled-silhouette target NSN 6920-01-167-1398
FM 23-9 M16A1 AND M16A2 RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP states:
"The target shown in Figure E-7, is a silhouette target designed to be used as alternate course C at 25 meters. The target shown in Figure E-8, is also an alternate course C target, but it has been scaled for 15 meters (50 feet or 600 inches) for use on indoor ranges. (A validated qualification course of fire for these targets is contained in Chapter 4.) Units may use any of the scaled silhouette targets to develop their own unique competitive program. Any action that encourages competition among Soldiers can generate interest in developing good firing habits, and can motivate Soldiers and sub-units to conduct practice required to develop good marksmanship skills."
If they show, they will shoot, if they shoot, they will qualify. Problem solved, 100% annual rifle qualification. But it gets better!
COMBAT RIFLE TRAINING EVERY DAY
With the advent of indoor rifle training ammunition, all the obstacles to a higher level of shooting skill are stripped away. Shooting could take place every day--YES the only thing stopping anyone from being "world class" or "Delta Force" is the amount of practice available once the basic skills are learned. Advanced skills mastered by just one person in the unit can be passed on to all the other Soldiers in the unit. By using scaled down targets, at 25 meters they appear as they would at longer ranges. These targets can be marked as "A", "B", "C" etc. and called out for the Soldier to engage.
FM 23-9 M16A1 AND M16A2 RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP Appendix E states:
"Scaled silhouette targets were developed in conjunction with the zero target to expand the use of widely available 25-meter ranges beyond that of just zeroing weapons. They are designed to provide an alternative to fill a significant training void. In the past, Soldiers went directly from the zero range to the field fire environment. They fired at pop-up targets located at ranges of 75 to 300 meters and received only hit or miss feedback as to performance. The pop-up silhouette target represents an important skill that all Soldiers should perform well. But hit and miss information does not constitute a good learning environment for the development and refinement of good marksmanship skills. The bad firer will miss most targets and never know what he is doing wrong. The good firer will hit most targets but will be unable to refine his skills to hit near target center."
They can also be silhouettes of tanks and aircraft, requiring him to use his Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) skills. He can employ binoculars to get a closer look. The range lights can be turned off, requiring him to use the AN/PVS-4 Night Vision Device mounted to his rifle and/or using the AN/PVS-7B Night Vision Goggles on his helmet to see the AN/PAQ-4C aiming light attached to his rifle to shoot/hit at night.
More Soldiers can be qualified at expert levels and then can test for the Expert Infantryman's Badge (EIB).
The following paragraph is a frank and candid statement of our current philosophy of marksmanship and how it needs to be fixed. If you cannot handle the unvarnished truth, and have a good feeling about indoor rifle ammunition, then depart now and vigorously go about making indoor rifle marksmanship training a reality in your unit.
EVERY SOLDIER AN EXPERT RIFLEMAN?
The answer is "YES". The only thing holding us back from EVERY Soldier shooting "expert" is ourselves. For example, BS like if a Soldier fires "unqualified" on qualification day, he is then only able to shoot "marksman" even if he shoots expert the next time. The defeatist, zero-sum thinking excuse is "that it wouldn't be fair to the other Soldiers who shot expert the first try". Since when is COMBAT, a TEAM EVENT an individual competition? This isn't an egotistical "snob-a-thon". YES, you get more promotion points if you shoot expert; oh well, I just happen to give a damn more about the MISSION and the MEN and less about ME getting promoted ahead of my peers and don't mind if everyone else in the Army attains expert shooting proficiency and promotion points. I also don't care if the Soldier has to shoot a TRILLION times, the first time he shoots expert, he's an expert, PERIOD. This is because his shooting has improved since he was finally given actual training. What a Soldier shoots on his best day, that's what he is capable of and what we need. If he can't improve his qualification rating, what incentive does he have to try? If he wants to improve, let him. When he does shoot expert, ackowledge it. And THAT'S WHAT WE WANT. When our lives on the line we had better have EVERY SOLDIER able to shoot, hit and kill, ALL experts in our ranks.
Some may then elaborate on the "zero-sum" mentality excuse: "We do not have enough ammunition to allow retries". First off, then our budgeting priorities are out of whack. Cut out the unit fund wastages linked to mess nights and officer's drinking parties. Second, the policy should be that ANY Soldier who shoots less than expert has the RIGHT to shoot again (and again) until he GETS IT RIGHT = Expert. I can remember several times where it was bitter cold on rifle qualification day and it was unsafe to even be outside exposed to the windchill and being stuck with a minimal rifle qualification score for an entire year. Indoor qualification would end this "one time a year, we shoot and its what we are judged by" nonsense. Its called a standard of excellence, not mediocrity. Next, its time to wake up. You can buy 5.56mm (.223 cal) ammo at Wal-Mart. Have the Soldier pay for the retries by obtaining the indoor 5.56mm ammo if the institution itself is only concerned with mediocrity (qualifying everyone and damning those that need more practice before attaining expert shooting levels with the "marksman" "toilet seat badge" label). When you do not allow Soldiers to give a damn about what they are doing, are we in any position to criticize them if they don't give a damn? Its also called LEADERSHIP. Leadership aspires to greatness and gets there, it doesn't make excuses and accepts defeat. It realizes "trial and error" is good in peacetime and necessary to TRUE EXCELLENCE and is willing to get its fingers dirty to get to this state.
In fact, as much as the pop-up target system used to qualify Army Soldiers is challenging and more realistic than the marine corps known-distance range firing, its also unfair and a troop de-motivator if the targets fail to go down when you hit them due to mechanical failure/neglect.
Colonel David Grossman has concluded in his landmark study on human pyschology and weaponry:
By 1946 the U.S. Army had completely accepted Marshall's World War II findings of a 15-20% firing rate among American riflemen, and the Human Resources Research Office of the U.S. Army subsequently pioneered a revolution in combat training that replaced the old method of firing at bulls-eye targets with that of deeply ingrained "conditioning" using realistic, human-shaped pop-up targets that fall when hit. Psychologists know that this kind of powerful "operant conditioning" is the only technique that reliably influences the primitive, midbrain processing of a frightened human being, just as fire drills condition terrified school children to respond properly during a fire, and repetitious, "stimulus-response "conditioning" in flight simulators enables frightened pilots to respond reflexively to emergency situations.
Throughout history the ingredients of posturing, mobility, distance, leaders, and groups have been manipulated to enable and force combatants to kill, but the introduction of conditioning in modern training was a true revolution. The application and perfection of these basic conditioning techniques appear to have increased the rate of fire from near 20% in World War II to approximately 55% in Korea and around 95% in Vietnam. Similar high rates of fire resulting from modern conditioning techniques can be seen in FBI data on law enforcement firing rates since the nationwide introduction of modern conditioning techniques in the late 1960s.
One of the most dramatic examples of the value and power of this modern, psychological revolution in training can be seen in Richard Holmes' observations of the 1982 Falklands War. The superbly trained (i.e., "conditioned") British forces were without air or artillery superiority and consistently outnumbered 3-to-1 while attacking the poorly trained but well-equipped and carefully dug-in Argentine defenders. Superior British firing rates (which Holmes estimates to be well over 90%), resulting from modern training techniques, has been credited as a key factor in the series of British victories in that brief but bloody war. Any future army that attempts to go into battle without similar psychological preparation is likely to meet a fate similar to that of the Argentines.
Its vital that we POSITIVELY CONDITION our men to shoot and kill with the pop-up target system. Since the system is not accurate, Boost the number of rounds to qualify to 50 to knock down 40 targets to counter for faulty targets. Reduce the NBC shoot to 10 rounds and add another 40 rounds to fire from the standing position on 3 round burst. You have 40 rounds to knock down all the targets in your lane one time using automatic fire. This will motivate the men as well as get them working on a good stance, grip around the sling and aiming low to break contact in a real fight or clear a room in MOUT. Make the Army a place for wARRIORS and you'd be surprised how the recruiting problems would vanish.
It is necessary to condemn the philosohy of machismo snobbery and "zero sum" thinking associated with military shooting because it seeks out the logistical problems for ready-made excuses to turn shooting into a chore. Shooting is FUN, its why most people join the Army in the first place.
And we need to wake up and realize all shooting entails is sighted in weapons and a steady, consistant aim with a good trigger squeeze. It has nothing to do with your "manhood"; in fact women physically are better able to aim/fire accurately than men. There is absolutely no reason now why EVERY Soldier in the Army cannot qualify as an expert each year.
Noted military expert, Emery Nelson writes:
"I've had an interesting conversation with a retired 1st Sgt. (
Promoted to Sgt. Major shortly before he retired ) I was talking to him about the most recent email I sent you on fatigue and he gave me his perspective on training and the current Army way of doing things ("There's a right way, there's a wrong way, then there's an Army..."). He had two, back-to-back tours in Vietnam ( 68-70 ) and although he didn't participate in DS he was in a training unit at the time ( NTC ) doing administrative duties. His MOS was 11B and he entered the Army in 1967. He had a wide range of experience in training BNs and had a pretty good
handle on that side of the Army.
He put the Army's problems squarely on senior officers. They
constantly prevented any real training from taking place. Every time they were deployed somewhere they would go into a training cycle specifically for that deployment. He told me that as of now (he is currently employed at Ft XXXXX ) most units arriving at XXXXXXX have not touched, let alone fired their personal weapons since the units last cycle at XXXXXX (is this true?) and that is only several months before they go.
I love the idea of firing until you get it. Weapons of any kind take practice to master. I worked with someone who was from Israel. He felt that one of the keys to IDF success was the constant firing of individual weapons. You were allowed to fire anytime you wanted, and there were always barrels of Ammo sitting around. This man was an electrician not an Infantrymen. He was originally from Romania where he had spent two years in the Army before immigrating to Israel. In Romania, according to him they fired tables of some kind twice a year. In Israel
they fired for fun and and never had to qualify at all. Just having the ability to shoot whenever they wanted was good enough. In America this would sound "dangerous" but firing their weapons so much led to good and safe gun handling practices and they were able to spot someone who was dangerous and not proficient. An important point is they fired off-hand
Those Delta Soldiers didn't get good by firing once a year for
qualification. They had to practice and practice. No one should be expected to fire once a year and be proficient. It's not going to happen. In my perfect world every Bn has their own indoor range which is used constantly. I may be wrong, but I suspect that if we fired our weapons more, the young men might think they're are Soldiers. Ammo is cheap--especially when bought in bulk and this is a good idea for the simple reason that if you master your personal weapon you lose anxiety about your performance in combat. Nothing could be worse then being then your first combat experience and not feeling confident about your personnel weapons handling skills. Watching German troops in Kosovo was interesting. They were completely unfamiliar with their weapons and during a fire fight they kept checking the weapons firing condition. Although they prevailed over a couple of drunken Serbs with one AK, I doubt it would have went so well against Serb soldiers. British Paras on the other hand were completely comfortable with their weapons. It is hard to imagine a Para without a weapon, they look like extensions of the Soldier. I am not surprised that they have killed so many people.
It's a good idea, and maybe it would help bring about positive
changes in Army culture."
The Colt marksmanship magazine for 1999 states:
"Shepheard is a retired member of Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos, and considers his goal now to be ensuring American law enforcement officers win gunfights.
"We line these people up, have them fire 50 rounds from 3 to 25 yards away whilst standing and facing the target, " Shepherd said, while illustrating with a Colt 9mm SMG. "Our training is designed to defeat a cardboard target that cooperates. It is nothing but a Mickey Mouse accuracy test.
"Bad guys will not stand perfectly still, squared to us and wait to be shot. They are not cooperative."
Couple that unrealistic, once-a-year qualification with poor initial training, and you have cops who don't want to shoot, cops who shoot poorly on the range and on the street, and cops who do everything they can to duck range work, Shepheard believes.
"They don't see the relevance in training," he says, "Punching tight groups in paper, which they probably can't do anyway, has nothing to do with fighting."
The final insult, Shepheard preaches, is when an obnoxious instructor who screams at them for shooting badly confronts poor performing, once-a-year shooters.
"The best shooter won't always be the best couch," the feisty Englishman counsels. "The effective coach has the knowledge and ability to shoot well, perhaps a bit better than the student.
"But more importantly, an effective coach has the communications skills so they can impart the knowledge, a positive attitude, patience and is enthusiastic."
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