Tuesday, August 31, 2010


DATELINE: Butt Butte, MT.
The 123rd Disorganized Montana Militia held its bi-annual rifle marksmanship qualification. The three members, self-dubbed the “A-Team”, under the command of Obergruppenfuhrer Bubba McCoy, gathered behind the county dump to ready themselves for the coming battle with the evil Blue Helmets. Targets [beer cans] were engaged at ranges from 15 to 25 yards, off-hand position, rapid fire. The elite array of firepower, including a Mosin-Nagant, a single-shot break-action H&R .410 shotgun and a Marlin .22 semi-auto, devastated the enemy in what Bubba called a realistic representation of the Normandy Landings. The operation was deemed a great success, and the A-Team began preparations for the next shoot by emptying plenty of more targets.

Well, if you’re actually serious about learning to be a real rifleman, your first step NEEDS to be attending an Appleseed. I didn’t learn anything all that great in the Army, and we shot only 40 rounds a year to qualify. You zeroed (or in some cases merely tried to) your M16A1 at 25 meters, then fired 20 rounds from a sandbagged foxhole and 20 rounds from the prone at pop-up targets out to 300 meters. You could actually miss every single 300 meter target and still qualify. Not that this helped a lot of folks. No, zero, nada, zip marksmanship training was conducted past basic training. Bad habits remained bad, and poor marksmanship remained poor.

This is why I’m such an advocate of the Appleseed Program. Even the weekend shoots teach you to do it right from the ground up and can be a quite humbling to people who think they’re crack shots and even to veterans and law enforcement personnel. If you can manage to squeeze in the week-long Appleseed Boot Camp shoot, you will come out as the finest form of rifleman (or woman). It’s time well spent, you’ll be much better for it, and your shooting buddies won’t believe what you can do.

You could do a whole helluva lot worse than shooting an Appleseed for an annual or bi-annual rifle qualification. As Fred asks, “Are you a cook or a rifleman?” I did get my rifleman patch, but my score at one Appleseed made me think I should brush up on my Dutch oven cooking.

Then, when you take an Appleseed Boot Camp or get to scoring real well and think you’re real hot stuff, take a look at some of these training exercises.

Rifle Ten
The first test is Jeff Cooper’s Rifle Ten. This not only tests your shooting but your physical condition and, since you are advancing towards the enemy, imbues you with a great deal more offensive spirit than sitting in a foxhole shooting from a sandbag.

The target used is the IPSC Option Target; a cheap substitute could consist of home-made man-sized silhouette target (delivery pizza boxes work great) with a 10-inch paper plate affixed dead center. You would, of course, paint the plate the same color as the silhouette, right? The improvised target would require another circle around the plate and/or scoring might have to be adjusted a bit. The individual targets are placed at 200, 225, 250, 275 and 300 yards.

The shooter starts at the 300 yard firing line, standing, loaded as he would like to be, not looped up with a sling if he uses one, and any bipod folded. When the whistle blows, the shooter goes into whatever position he chooses, and fires two rounds at the target.

Without any further signals, he springs to 275, fires two rounds from the position of his choice, then again at 250 and 225. He must fire the last two rounds at 200 yards’ range from the standing position.

Hits in the 10-ring count five points, in the outer ring four points, and on the paper two points, for a maximum possible score of 50 points. The rifleman (versus the cook) time for all the shooting and running is around two minutes. Cooper said anyone who can score 40 points and run the course inside of 2 minutes is a “good shot”. I would have to say you rate a helluva lot better than that.

I’ve only tried this once and didn’t come close. I got some decent hits from the prone, but I had to take a long time to concentrate and squeeze off good shots. Especially after the first couple of sprints. You will be amazed at how quickly you start breathing hard and your blood starts racing. By the time you waddle up to that 200 yard off-hand shot, you’re panting like a steer, and wobbling all over the place.

There now, wasn’t that easy?

This first series of shooting exercises comes from the WWII British Army rifle training manual. The weapon used was the legendary SMLE, Short Magazine Lee-Enfield. There was a saying at the end of WWI that the German Mauser was the best hunting rifle, the American Springfield was the best target rifle, but the British Enfield was the best combat rifle.

If Tommy Atkins could do this in 1940 with his SMLE, can you do it today with your state-of-the-art glass-sighted semi-auto uber sturmgewehr?

The following practices are given as a guide:--
Practice 1.—Firing and observing
No, of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Collapsible; iron falling plates are the ideal target, tiles or bricks, 5 for each firer, placed at irregular distances and intervals.
Range.—Between 200 and 300 yards.
Lessons.—Mutual assistance.
Observation of fire.
All points of weapon training.
Method of conducting.—Men work in pairs, under battle conditions, as firer and observer, changing round.
Points of criticism.—Points of elementary training. Observation of fire. Observation must be exact.
General notes.—It is an advantage if the plates can be concealed by bushes, etc. These may be pulled away by strings as required. The device will give exercise in quick observation.
Practice 2.—Endurance and quick firing
No. of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Any suitable figure target, preferably Fig. 4A, exposed over or around a piece of cover.
Range.—About 200 yards.
Quick accurate shooting.
Method of Conducting.—The targets will be exposed fives times over a period of five minutes. Each exposure of five seconds. The last exposure to be in the last half minute. Two exposures to be in quick succession, i.e. three second interval. A small pit or suitable piece of cover for the marker is required.
General notes.—The firer should be given a small area of ground to keep under observation and the targets exposed at different places.
Practice 3.—Attack
No. of rounds.—10.
Targets.—Two figures 2 and two figures 4A (or other suitable figures) per firer.
Range.—From 400 to 200 yards.
Accuracy of fire after movement.
Judging distance.
Sight setting and all points of weapons handling.
Method of conducting.—Four figures will be exposed and the firer will engage them from wherever he wants.
Time limit.—Three minutes to fire the 10 rounds. Targets will drop when hit.
General notes.--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->(a) <!--[endif]-->This practice must be on an individual basis as it will not be possible to fire as a detail.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->(b) <!--[endif]-->A small pit or suitable piece of cover is necessary for the markers. If this is not possible the targets must be fixed and a limit placed on the number of rounds to be fired at each target.
Practice 4.—The stalker
No. of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Any suitable figure—figure 4A preferably, placed in battle positions, firing round cover, from tree, etc.
Range.—Not exceeding 250 yards.
Use of ground.
Accurate shooting after an advance under arduous conditions.
Method of conducting.—If markers’ pit is available, the figure target will be exposed for a suitable period and lowered when hit. The stalker will have the enemy pointed out to him from a position in rear, which necessitates his stalking forward about 100 yards in order o be certain of a shot to kill.
Points for criticism.
Fire positions selected.
Care of arms when advancing.
Fire effect.
All points of weapon training.
General notes.
(a) The time limit will be dependent on the length and difficulty of the advance.
(b) If a pit or other suitable cover exists at the target position the stalker may be kept under observation throughout by means of a periscope. A round of ball or blank should be fired whenever he is seen.

The ATOM Manual
I have never seen good shooting and practicing for good shooting so emphasized as in the British ATOM (Anti-Terrorist Operations Malaya) manual for Commonwealth Forces fighting there.

Short Range Shooting.—The importance in Malaya of the quick deadly accurate shot has already been emphasized. Continual practice will be required on:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->The Malayan Range.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->The Jungle Lane.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The Ambush Range.

Malayan Range.—The aim of the Malayan Range is to shoot in the standing position. To perfect the soldier for jungle the standing and kneeling positions at fleeting moving targets. Every company must have a range where firing can be carried out at ranges up to 100 yards. The range should be constructed under trees to reproduce the normal operational shooting light. In order to carry out timed practices at snap or moving targets, there must be a trench in which markers can move and present targets with safety. The alternative is a system of pull-up, and moving targets operated by wire. The trench system is by far the best, because it is a more reliable way of presenting targets; and because it allows more variation in placing them. Figure 1 shows a lay-out for Malayan Range.
100 yd 75 yd 50 yd 25 yd

Such a lay-out enables two practices to be carried out simultaneously: one at stationary targets at A, and one at snap or moving targets B. Both practices must be fired at the same range, and checking and pasting are done at the same time. The trench need not be straight but can zigzag in order to allow targets to appear in unexpected places. Details of the practices to be carried out are given in Appendix A.
Appendix A
Malayan Range—Practices
Rifle [#5 Jungle Carbine, SLR (FAL), or M1/M2 carbine]
Practice 1
Grouping.—5 rounds. Fig 11 target [man-size silhouette] with a 1-inch square patch as aiming mark. Standard required 4-inch group. (One-inch squares? Four-MOA? Sounds like an Appleseed!) HPS [Highest Possible Score] 25.
Practice 2
Timed.—5 rounds. Fig. 11 target with rectangles 2-in. x 4-in., 4-in. x 6-in. inscribed in centre of target. Time 15 seconds. Scoring 4,3,2. [4 points in smallest rectangle, 3 points in larger rectangle, 2 points elsewhere on the target] HPS 20.
Practice 3
Snap.—10 rounds. Five differently coloured Fig. 11 targets. Ten 4 second exposures (reduced to 2 seconds as proficiency increases). Firer engages a colour as ordered by the instructor and fires one round each time a target is named. Scoring 3,2. HPS 30.
Practice 4
Snap.—10 rounds. Fig. 12 target with 6-in. circle inscribed in centre of target. Ten 4 second exposures (reduced to 2 seconds proficiency increases). One shot each exposure. Scoring 3, 2. HPS 30.
Practice 5
Moving Targets.—5 rounds. Length of run 15 yards. Target appears at walking speed. Firer engages with one shot and target breaks into running speed. Firer then fires 1 or 2 more shots. This process is repeated on the return run of the target. Scoring 3, 2. HPS 15.
a. Total number of rounds 35
HPS 120
b. Practices should initially be carried out at 25 yards, and increased up to 100 yards as proficiency increases.
c. In practices 3 and 5, Fig. 11 targets will be marked with two lines 6-in. apart, forming a “vital area” 6-in. wide down the center of the target from top to bottom. Scoring—3 points per hit in the vital area, 2 points for hit elsewhere on the target.
d. Standing position will be used up to 50 yards range, and standing or kneeling at ranges over 50 yards.
Jungle Lane:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->The aim of the
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->A narrow winding track must be found, or cut, in jungle. The firer advances down this track at the ready position, as on patrol. At intervals, various types of targets appear. There is no need for any of these targets to be moved or controlled by hand. They can be placed so that the firer turns a corner, or comes to a certain point, the target comes into his vision to his front or flank. If snap or moving targets are made to be controlled by hand, an instructor following behind the firer must operate the wire so as to present the target at the right moment.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The advantage of the first method is that the firer has to pick out a silent and stationary target; it is therefore a better test of his powers of observation than a pull-up target. The advantage of hand-controlled targets is that they can be made to appear for a definite timed exposure. The best solution is to have a proportion of static targets, with a variety of hand-controlled targets appearing at ground level or at a man height round the side of a tree, or moving at any angle desired. For scoring purposes, Figure 11 targets should have the “vital area” inscribed, as on the Malayan Range, and Figure 12 targets should have the circle in the centre. This is important, to bring out that only a killing shot is a good shot.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d. <!--[endif]-->CT fire can be simulated by firing a carbine or LMG in a pit near the target, firing it by means of a wire controlled by the instructor moving behind the firer. This is a good variation from static targets.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->e. <!--[endif]-->It is vital that scored are properly marked and recorded, so that each man’s progress can be assessed.
Ambush Range.—The object of having an ambush range is to practice fire control and shooting from an ambush position, in conditions representing, as nearly as possible, an operational ambush. The requirements, which are easy to fulfil are:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->Ambush Position.--This should be large enough for a section and needs careful selection. Natural cover will be required and therefore the position should be left untouched as far as possible.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->Killing Ground.—The killing ground should look as natural as possible from the ambush position, but trenches need to be dug in order that targets and markers can be moved about. If the ground allows, there should be several trenches at different angles, so that targets may approach and withdraw from different directions. A possible layout is shown at Figure 2.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->
c. <!--[endif]-->Safety Precautions.—Care must be taken to ensure that sufficient earth is thrown up at the right places to give ample protection for the markers. If the ground does not favour natural protection, pulley-raised targets should be used.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d. <!--[endif]-->Ingenuity.—Exercises run on the ambush range depend on realism for success. The following points are useful:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->All movement by troops in the ambush position must be fully operation, e.g. position taken up silently; camouflage, and clear orders.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->A wait should be imposed to introduce realism. Targets should appear without any warning. Once fire has opened targets must move rapidly.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The range should be used by day and night.
Conclusion.—The standard of shooting required for success in Malaya can never be set too high. This standard can be achieved only by careful, continuous training.

Real mountain troops, like the Gebirgsjaeger, are a true elite force, requiring physical prowess, stamina, intelligence and a high standard of marksmanship. The following is just one, and the easiest one at that, of five exercises proscribed for Swiss ski troops while they awaited a possible German invasion during WWII. The remaining four courses are much longer and more demanding, some lasting hours and traversing a great deal of mountain terrain. Rather like a biathlon in full combat gear. The weapon used was the open-sighted K31 carbine.

Training of the High Altitude Mountain Fighter.

Purpose of the exercise: Check the skill and speed of the patrol, then require a maximum of his individual over a certain trail. There must be a drop of from 300 to 600 feet between the beginning and end of the course. He will have to pass between a certain number of markers on the way down. Midway in the course, the man will be required to remove his skis and crawl out onto a ledge and take up his position with his carbine. A referee will point out to him, successively, targets “A” and “B”, which are at different distances and are of different nature.
“A” (about 300 to 450 feet, a G-type target or head) is an enemy who is already in position. He has revealed himself to our patrol by his fire which had come from the direction of the floor of the valley. Our patrol has had the good fortune to catch sight of him and surprise him. The man will have a maximum of 2 shots and 40 seconds for hitting him.
A second enemy shows up, attracted by the first shots and desiring to come to the assistance of his comrade. (The target is visible only momentarily; an E- or F-target [man-sized silhouette] is used: time allowed 10 seconds; one cartridge only).
Other enemies have slipped into a position at the foot of the ledge; our patrol knows they are there only by their tracks. He cannot get at them with the fire of his carbine. Two hand grenades must be thrown into a hole approximately 6 feet in diameter.
Lastly, he sees an enemy spring up near him who probably intends to try getting possession of his skis. The man tackles him without weapon or pack and must put the enemy on his back in not over 30 seconds. Only then can he put on his skis and continue his trip.
The trip time and combat time are measured separately. The mistakes in fire, in throwing the grenades, and in the combat are turned into penalty seconds. The man must announce himself correctly at the start and finish. A referee will check his conduct and form.
The course may be varied as much as is desired, made easier or more difficult according to the ability of the participants and the time available for the exercises. In order to avoid serious mistakes, the course should be explained in detail, even traveled over in the sight of all the men so that they will understand everything fully.
There must be referees for the skiing, the firing, and the grenade-throwing. The wrestler must be relieved by others as they finish their trip. This will give them a chance to observe where they themselves have made mistakes. If there are no walls, rocks, or other objects which will shield a man and enable him to raise the disappearing target when the whistle is blown, the target will have to be fixes and a check made of the shots after each man has finishing firing. The course should be well laid out and without any unnecessary complications. The turn should not last more than 5 or 10 minutes at the most. A correct record will not only show the good points but call attention to weak ones which will have to be given special attention.
So, there you have it. Once you get good enough at an Appleseed, try some of these on for field firing. Of course, you don’t have to ski down the Matterhorn firing left-handed behind the back or anything like that. You can merely use these ideas as a guide and source of ideas and adapt any of these firing exercises to suit your needs or AO. For instance, you can certainly do the preceding drill on foot without skis and snow and mountains and such. Perhaps you would like to change the time limit on the Rifle Ten and low crawl under cover between firing positions. Be creative and adjust for your shooters' abilities or for different terrain in your area. Take it easy...baby steps. You can't expect to beat an Olympic Biathelete your first time out. Start small, start short, start slow and build from there, adapting what you need.
So there you have it. Just a sample of what good men with rifles can do. FIRST, get thee to an Appleseed. Then build from there. With enough time, ammunition, and practice, truly amazing things can be achieved. Without any time, ammo, or practice, you may as well go join up with Bubba and the A-Team.

Jungle Lane
is to practice men in quick and accurate shooting, at targets representing CT [Communist Terrorists], while the firers are on the move themselves down a jungle track.

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