Be sure to get the top of front sight, as in Fig. 8, and not the bull's eye, as in Fig. 9, in center of the peep hole.
Advantage of the peep sight. The advantage of the peep sight over the open sight is due to the fact that it is easier to center the top of the front sight in the peep hole and thus get the same amount of front sight each time.
For example you know at once, without measuring, that the dots in the circles, Fig. 10, are not centered, and that the one in the circle in Fig. 11, is.
After a little practice, in looking through the peep hole the eye almost automatically centers the top of the front sight.
Disadvantage of the peep sight. The disadvantage of the peep sight is that its limited field of view and lack of readiness in getting a quick aim with it limit its use to those stages of the combat when comparative deliberation will be possible.
(c) Battle sight. By battle sight we mean the position of the rear sight with the leaf down. There is a sighting notch on the top of the leaf, or rather on top of the leaf slide which works up and down the leaf.
The battle sight is the only sight used in rapid fire. In unexpected, close encounters the side that first opens a rapid and accurate fire has a great advantage over the other. Again, a soldier on patrol generally has no time to set his sight, if suddenly attacked at close range. The battle sight, may, therefore be called the emergency sight,—the handy, quick sight. The soldier should, therefore, become thoroughly familiar with the use of this sight.
The sighting notch in the slide with the rear sight leaf down, is the same height as is the sighting in the drift slide when the rear sight leaf is raised and set at 530 yards.
That is to say, battle sight is equivalent to a sight setting of 530 yards. Therefore, in shooting with battle sight at objects nearer than 530 yards you must aim lower.
Kinds of Sight
1353. (Amount of front sight taken)
(a) Normal sight. The amount of front sight taken in Figs. 6 and 8, is called the normal sight and is the one that the soldier should always use, either with the open notch or peep sight, as it is the only sight which assures the taking of the same amount of front sight every time. In other words it assumes a greater degree of uniformity in sighting, which is one of the most important factors in shooting. By uniformity in sighting is meant taking the same amount of sight each time.
If you take less than the amount of front sight used in the normal sight, it will, of course, have the effect of lowering the muzzle of the piece, and consequently you will hit a point lower than if you had used the normal sight.
On the other hand, if you take more than the amount of front sight used in the normal sight, it will, of course, have the effect of raising the muzzle and consequently you will hit a point higher than if you had used the normal sight.
(b) Fine sight. Although occasionally a man will be found who can get good results by using the fine sight, the average man cannot, and this form of sighting is, therefore, to be avoided.
(c) Full sight. The so-called full sight must be avoided under all circumstances. It is merely mentioned and shown here to point out a fault that must be carefully avoided.
The objections to its use are the same as in the case of the fine sight,—that is, lack of uniformity in the amount of sight taken.
1354. What the rifleman looks at when he fires. The eye can be focused accurately upon objects at only one distance at a time; all other objects we see will be more or less blurred and fuzzy looking, depending upon their distance from the object upon which our eye is focused.
The rifleman who attains proficiency focuses his eye on the target while aiming, but he glances at one sight and then the other to see that they are aligned properly, then back at the target, and at the instant of discharge his eye is on the target.
1355. Sighting, Position and Aiming Drills. The importance of the following sighting, position and aiming drills cannot be overestimated. If they are carefully practiced, before firing a single shot at a target, you will have learned how to aim your piece correctly, hold your rifle steadily, squeeze the trigger properly, assume that position best adapted to the particular conformation of your body, and you will also have acquired the quickness and manual skill required for handling the piece in rapid fire.
The sighting, position and aiming drills teach the fundamental principles of shooting, which are the foundation upon which marksmanship is built.
Do not confine yourself to going through these drills only during drill hours, but go through them frequently at other times. The extent to which it will improve your shooting will more than repay you for your trouble.
1356. Object. The objects of the sighting drill are:
1. To show how to bring the rear sight, the front sight and the target into the same line,—that is, to show how to sight properly.
2. To discover and point out errors in sighting.—in other words, to discover the errors you make in sighting and show the reasons for same, so that you may be able to correct them properly.
3. To teach uniformity in sighting,—that is, to teach you how to take the same amount of sight each time,—to see every time the same amount of front sight when you look through the rear sight.
Sighting rest for rifle. A good sighting rest for a rifle may be made by removing the top from an empty pistol ammunition box, or a similar box, and then cutting notches in the ends of the box to fit the rifle closely. (Fig. 15.)
Place the rifle in these notches with the trigger guard close to and outside one end.
At a convenient distance above the ground fasten a blank sheet of paper on a wall or on a plank nailed to a stake driven into the ground.
Three legs are fastened to the rest (or it may be placed on the ground without any legs), which is placed 20 or 30 feet from the blank sheet of paper.
Make sure that the piece is canted neither to the right nor left, and without touching the rifle or rest, sight the rifle near the center of the blank sheet of paper (Fig. 17.)
Changes in the line of sight are made by changing the elevation and windage.
A soldier acting as marker is provided with a pencil and a small rod bearing at one end a small piece of white cardboard, with a black bull's eye pierced in the center with a hole just large enough to admit the point of a lead pencil.
The soldier sighting directs the marker to move the disk to the right, left, higher, or lower, until the line of aim is established when he commands, "Mark," or "Hold."
At the command "Mark," being careful not to move the disk, the marker records through the hole in the center the position of the disk and then withdraws it.
At the command "Hold," the marker holds the disk carefully in place without marking, until the position is verified by the instructor, and the disk is not withdrawn until so directed.
1357. Point of Aim. Always be sure to aim at a point just below the black bull's-eye,—that is, aim so that there will be a fine line of light between the bottom of the bull's-eye and the-top of the front sight (Fig. 19). This is important to insure uniformity in sighting,—that is, in order to make sure that you aim at the same place on the target each time. If the top of the front sight touches the bottom of the bull's-eye it is impossible to say just how much of the front sight is seen, and how far up into the bull's-eye you are.
First Sighting Exercise
1358. Using the sighting rest for the rifle (Fig. 17) require each man to direct the marker to move the disk until the rifle is directed on the bull's-eye with the normal sight and command, "Hold." If aiming correctly the rear sight, the front sight and the bull's-eye will look as shown in Fig. 19, above.
The instructor then verifies this line of sight. Errors, if any, will be pointed out to the soldier and another trial made. If he is still unable to sight correctly, he will be given as many more trials as may be necessary.
Sometimes a man does not know how to place the eye in the line of sight; he will look over or along one side of the notch of the rear sight and believe that he is aiming through the notch because he sees it at the same time that he does the front sight. Again some men in sighting will look at the front sight and not at the object.
Repeat the above exercise, using the peep sight. If aiming correctly, the rear sight, the front sight and the bull's-eye will look as shown in Fig. 20.
Second Sighting Exercise
1359. The triangle of sighting. Using the sighting rest for the rifle as before (Fig. 17), direct the marker to move the disk until the rifle is directed on the bull's-eye with the normal sight and command "Mark," whereupon the marker, being careful not to move the disk, records through the hole in its center, the position of the disk, and withdraws it. Then, being careful not to move the rifle or sights repeat the operation until three marks have been made.
Join the three points by straight lines. The shape and size of the triangle will indicate the nature of the variations made in sighting.
For example, if you have taken the same aim each time, you will get a very small triangle something like this: which resulted from taking each time this aim, for instance:
A triangle like Fig. 22 results from not taking the same amount of front sight each time, as shown in Fig. 23.
A triangle like Fig. 24 shows that the front sight was not in the middle of the notch each time, as shown in Fig. 25.
A triangle like Fig. 26 results from a combination of the two errors mentioned above,—that is, not taking the same amount of front sight each time and not having the front sight in the middle of the notch each time, as shown in Fig. 27.
If any one of the sides of the triangle is longer than one-half inch, the exercise is repeated, each sight being verified by the instructor, who will call the soldier's attention to his errors, if any.
The smaller the triangle, the better the sighting.
1360. Verifying the triangle. If the sides of the triangle are so small that they indicate regularity in sighting, mark the center of the triangle and then place the center of the bull's-eye on this mark. The instructor then examines the position of the bull's-eye with reference to the line of sight. If the bull's-eye is properly placed with reference to the line of sight, the soldier aims correctly and with uniformity.
If the bull's-eye is not properly placed with reference to the line of sight, the soldier aims in a regular manner but with a constant error.
1361. Causes of errors. If the bull's-eye is directly above its proper position, the soldier has aimed high,—that is, he has taken too little front sight.
If the bull's-eye is directly below its proper position, the soldier has aimed low,—that is, he has taken too much front sight.
If the bull's-eye is directly to the right or left of its proper position, the soldier has not sighted through the center of the rear notch and over the top of the front sight. If to the right, the soldier has either sighted along the left of the rear sight notch or the right side of the front sight, or has committed both of these errors.
If the bull's-eye is to the left of its proper place, the soldier has probably-sighted along the right of the rear sight notch, or to the left of the front sight, or has committed both of these errors.
If the bull's eye is diagonally above and to the right, the soldier has probably combined the errors which placed it too high and too far to the right.
Any other diagonal position would be produced by a similar combination of vertical and horizontal errors.
After the above instruction has been given to one man, the line of sight will be slightly changed by moving the sighting rest or by changing the elevation and windage, and the exercises similarly repeated with other men.
Repeat the exercise, using the peep sight.
Third Sighting Exercise
1362. This exercise shows the effect of canting the piece.
It is most important that in aiming the sights be kept vertical and the piece not be canted,—that is, that the barrel be not tilted over to the right or left.
If the piece is canted to the right, the sights are lowered to the right and consequently the bullet will strike to the right and below the point aimed at, even though the rifle be otherwise correctly aimed and the sights correctly set.
Similarly if the piece is canted to the left the sights are lowered to the left, and consequently the bullet will strike to the left and low.
This effect of canting the piece may be shown as follows: Use the sighting rest with the rifle firmly held in the notches, the bolt removed.
Paste a black paster near the center of the bottom line of the target. Sight the rifle on this mark, using about 2000 yards' elevation. Then, being careful not to move the rifle, look through the bore and direct the marker to move the disk until the bull's-eye is in the center of the field of view and command, "Mark."
Next, turn the rest (with the rifle) over 90 deg. to the right, on its side, and with the same elevation, sight on the same paster as above. Then, being careful not to move the rifle, look through the bore and again direct the marker to move the disk until the bull's-eye is in the center of the field of view and command, "Mark."
Not considering the fall of the bullet, the first mark represents the point struck with the sight vertical, the second mark represents the point struck, low and to the right, using the same elevation and the same point of aim, when the piece is canted 90 deg. to the right.
Different degrees of canting the piece can be represented by drawing an arc of a circle through the two marks with the paster as a center. The second mark will be at a point on this arc corresponding to the degree of canting the piece.
It is important to know that this effect of canting increases with the distance from the target.
Fourth Sighting Exercise
1363. This exercise is to show the advantage of blackened sights.
In strong sunlight, make a triangle of sighting, using a rifle having sights worn bright. Then, being careful not to move the rifle, blacken the sights and make another triangle.
Use dotted lines for the triangle with bright sights and full lines for the triangle made with blackened sights.
The position and size of the two triangles will plainly show the advantage of using blackened sights.
Fifth Sighting Exercise
1364. This exercise is to illustrate the importance of knowing the effects of varying degrees of light.
In strong sunlight make a triangle of sighting. Then, being careful not to move the piece, make another triangle, the target and the man sighting having first been shaded.
The relative positions of the triangles will show the importance of knowing the effects of varying degrees of light.
Position and Aiming Drills
1365. Object. The object of the position and aiming drills are:
1. To so educate the muscles of the arm and body that the piece, during the act of aiming, shall be held without restraint, and during the operation of firing shall not be deflected from the target by any convulsive or improper movement of the trigger finger or of the body, arms, or hands.
2. They also establish between the hand and eye such prompt and intimate connection as will insure that the finger shall act upon the trigger, giving the final pressure at the exact moment when the top of the front sight is seen to be directed upon the mark.
3. If at the moment the piece is discharged, it is properly supported and correctly aimed, the mark will surely be hit.
Since any fairly intelligent man can be taught to aim correctly and to hold the sights aligned upon the mark with a fair amount of steadiness, it follows that bad shooting must necessarily arise from causes other than bad aiming. The chief of these causes is known to be the deflection given to the rifle when it is discharged, due to the fact that the soldier, at the moment of firing, instead of SQUEEZING the trigger, jerks it. This convulsive action is largely due to lack of familiarity with the methods of firing and to a constrained position of the muscles of the body, arm, and hands, which constrained position it is the object of the position and aiming drills to correct.
1366. General. In order to correct any tendency to cant the piece, the rear sight is raised in all the exercises.
Place a black paster at which to aim on the wall opposite each man.
The squad being formed in single rank, with an interval of one yard between files, the instructor directs the men to take the position of "Ready," except that the position of the feet is such as to insure the greatest firmness and steadiness of the body.
The instructor then cautions, "Position and aiming drill."
The exercise which is being taught should be repeated frequently and made continuous. The instructor prefaces the preparatory command by, "Continue the motion," or "At will," and gives the command "Halt" at the conclusion of the exercise, when the soldier returns to the position of "Ready." Or the soldier may be made to repeat the first and second motions by the command "One," "Two," the exercise concluding with the command "Halt."
Care must be taken by the instructor not to make the position and aiming drills tedious. Thirty minutes daily should be spent in this practice during the period of preliminary instruction. After gallery practice is taken up, however, five or ten minutes daily should be sufficient for these exercises.
In order that the instructor may readily detect and correct errors the squads for these drills should not consist of more than eight men.
The instructor should avoid holding the squad in tiresome positions while making explanations or corrections.
1367. The instructor commands: 1. Position, 2. EXERCISE. At the command, "Exercise" without moving the body or eyes, raise the rifle smartly to the front of the right shoulder to the full extent of the left arm, elbow inclined downward, the barrel nearly horizontal, muzzle slightly depressed, heel of the butt on a line with the top of the shoulder. (Fig. 28.)
(Two.) Bring the piece smartly against the hollow of the shoulder, without permitting the shoulder to give way, and press the rifle against it, mainly with the right hand, only slightly with the left, the forefinger of the right hand resting lightly against the trigger, the rifle inclined neither to the right nor left.
(Three.) Resume the position of ready. (Fig. 30.)
Remarks. The instructor should especially notice the position of each soldier in this exercise, endeavoring to give to each man an easy and natural position. He should see that the men avoid drawing in the stomach, raising the breast, or bending the small of the back. The butt of the piece must be pressed firmly, but not too tightly, into the hollow of the shoulder and not against the muscles of the upper arm. If held too tightly, the pulsations of the body will be communicated to the piece; if too loosely, the recoil will bruise the shoulder. If only the heel or toe touches the hollow of the shoulder, the recoil may throw the muzzle down or up, affecting the position of the hit. While both arms are used to press the piece to the shoulder, the left arm should be used to direct the piece and the right forefinger must be left free to squeeze the trigger.
1368. The instructor will first direct the sights to be adjusted for the lowest elevation and subsequently for the different longer ranges.
The instructor commands: 1. Aiming. 2. EXERCISE. At the last command execute the first and second motion of the position exercise.
(Two.) Bend the head a little to the right, the cheek resting against the stock, the left eye closed, the right eye looking through the notch of the rear sight at a point slightly below the mark. (Fig. 31.)
(Three.) Draw a moderately long breath, let a portion of it escape, then, with the lungs in a state of rest, slowly raise the rifle with the left hand, being careful not to incline the sight to either side, until the line of sight is directly on the mark; hold the rifle steadily directed on the mark for a moment; then, without command and just before the power to hold the rifle steadily is lost, drop the rifle to the position of "Ready" and resume the breathing.
1369. Remarks. Some riflemen prefer to extend the left arm. Such a position gives greater control over the rifle when firing in a strong wind or at moving objects. It also possesses advantages when a rapid as well as accurate delivery of fire is desired. Whatever the position, whether standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone, the piece should rest on the palm of the left hand, never on the tips of the fingers, and should be firmly grasped by all the fingers and the thumb.
The eye may be brought to the line of sight either by lowering the head or by raising the shoulder; it is best to combine somewhat these methods; the shoulder to be well raised by raising the right elbow and holding it well to the front and at right angles to the body.
If the shoulder is not raised, it will be necessary for the soldier to lower the head to the front in order to bring the eye into the line of sight. Lowering the head too far to the front brings it near the right hand, which grasps the stock. When the piece is discharged, this hand is carried by the recoil to the rear and, when the head is in this position, may strike against the nose or mouth. This often happens in practice, and as a result of this blow often repeated many men become gun-shy, or flinch, or close their eyes at the moment of firing. Much bad shooting, ascribed to other causes, is really due to this fault. Raising the right elbow at right angles to the body elevates the right shoulder, and lifts the piece so that it is no longer necessary to incline the head materially to the front in order to look along the sights.
As the length of the soldier's neck determines greatly the exact method of taking the proper position, the instructor will be careful to see that the position is taken without restraint.
As changes in the elevation of the rear sight will necessitate a corresponding change in the position of the soldier's head when aiming, the exercise should not be held with the sight adjusted for the longer ranges until the men have been practiced with the sights as the latter would generally be employed for offhand firing.
The soldier must be cautioned that while raising the line of sight to the mark he must fix his eyes on the mark and not on the front sight; the latter can then be readily brought into the line joining the rear-sight notch and mark. If this plan be not followed, when firing is held on the range at long distances the mark will generally appear blurred and indistinct. The front sight will always be plainly seen, even though the eye is not directed particularly upon it.
The rifle must be raised slowly, without jerk, and its motion stopped gradually. In retaining it directed at the mark, care must be taken not to continue the aim after steadiness is lost; this period will probably be found to be short at first, but will quickly lengthen with practice. No effort should be made to prolong it beyond the time that breathing can be easily restrained. Each soldier will determine for himself the proper time for discontinuing the aim.
The men must be cautioned not to hold the breath too long, as a trembling of the body will result in many cases.
Some riflemen prefer, in aiming, to keep both eyes open but, unless the habit is fixed, the soldier should be instructed to close the left eye.
1370. The instructor commands: 1. Trigger squeeze. 2. EXERCISE. At the command Exercise, the soldier executes the first motion of the aiming exercise.
(Two.) The second motion of the aiming exercise.
(Three.) Draw a moderately long breath, let a portion of it escape, hold the breath and slowly raise the rifle with the left hand until the line of sight is on the mark, being careful not to incline the sights to either side. Contract the trigger finger gradually, slowly and steadily increasing the pressure on the trigger, while the aim is being perfected; continue the gradual increase of pressure so that when the aim has become exact the additional pressure required to release the point of the sear can be given almost insensibly and without causing any deflection of the rifle. Continue the aim a moment after the release of the firing pin, observe if any change has been made in the direction of the line of sight, and then resume the position of "Ready," cocking the piece by raising and lowering the bolt handle.
Remarks. Poor shooting is often the result of lack of proper cooerdination of holding the breath, the maximum steadiness of aim, and the squeeze of the trigger. By frequent practice in this exercise, each man may come to know the exact instant his firing pin will be released. He must be taught to hold the breath, bring the sights to bear upon the mark, and squeeze the trigger all at the same time.
1371. The Trigger Squeeze. The trigger should be squeezed, not pulled, the hand being closed upon itself as a sponge is squeezed, the forefinger sharing in this movement. The forefinger should be placed as far around the trigger as to press it with the second joint. By practice the soldier becomes familiar with the trigger squeeze of his rifle, and knowing this, he is able to judge at any time, within limits, what additional pressure is required for its discharge. By constant repetition of this exercise he should be able finally to squeeze the trigger to a certain point beyond which the slightest movement will release the sear. Having squeezed the trigger to this point, the aim is corrected and, when true, the additional pressure is applied and the discharge follows.
1372. Object. The object of this exercise is to teach the soldier to aim quickly and at the same time accurately in all the positions he will be called upon to assume in range practice.
The instructor commands: 1. Rapid-fire exercise. 2. COMMENCE FIRING. At the first command the first and second motions of the trigger-squeeze exercise are performed. At the second command, the soldier performs the third motion of the trigger-squeeze exercise, squeezing the trigger without disturbing the aim or the position of the piece, but at the same time without undue deliberation. He then without removing the rifle from the shoulder, holding the piece in position with the left hand, grasps the handle of the bolt with the right hand, rapidly draws back the bolt, closes the chamber, aims, and again squeezes the trigger. This movement is repeated until the trigger has been squeezed five times, when, without command, the piece is brought back to the position of "Ready."
When the soldier has acquired some facility in this exercise, he will be required to repeat the movement ten times, and finally, by using dummy cartridges, he may, by degrees, gain the necessary quickness and dexterity for the execution of the rapid fire required in range firing.
1373 Methods. The methods of taking position, of aiming, and of squeezing the trigger, taught in the preceding exercises, should be carried out in the rapid-fire exercises, with due attention to all details taught therein; the details being carried out as prescribed except that greater promptness is necessary. In order that any tendency on the part of the recruit to slight the movements of aiming and of trigger squeeze shall be avoided, the rapid-fire exercises will not be taught until the recruit is thoroughly drilled and familiar with the preceding exercises. The recruit will be instructed that with practice in this class of fire the trigger can be squeezed promptly without deranging the piece.
1374. Repetition. If the recruit seems to execute the exercise hurriedly or carelessly, the instructor will require him to repeat it at a slower rate.
1375. Manipulation of the Breech Mechanism. To hold the piece to the position of the left hand should not be changed, but the left forearm with the proper facility, are learned only after much practice. Some riflemen, especially men who shoot from the left shoulder, find it easier, in rapid firing, to drop the piece to the position of load after each shot. While at first trial this method may seem easier, it is believed that, with practice, the advantage of the former method will be apparent.
Position and Aiming Drill, Kneeling
1376. These exercises will be repeated in the kneeling position by causing the squad to kneel by the commands prescribed in the Drill Regulations. The exercises will be executed as prescribed for standing, except that the command "Two" in the position exercise, the soldier will rest the left elbow on the left knee, the point of the elbow in front of the kneecap. The pasters for the kneeling exercise should be at 2-1/2 feet from the floor or ground.
Remarks. Frequent rests will be given during practice in these exercises kneeling, as the position, if long continued, becomes constrained and fatigues the soldier unnecessarily.
In raising the rifle to the mark in the second and third exercises, the position of the left hand should not be changed, but the left forearm should be brought toward the body and at the same time the body bent slightly to the rear.
When aiming kneeling there is, from the nature of the position, a tendency to press the butt of the rifle against the upper arm instead of against the hollow of the shoulder; this will necessitate inclining the head considerably to the right to get the line of sight, and by bringing the rifle so far to the rear will, if the thumb is placed across the stock, cause it to give by the recoil a blow upon the nose or mouth.
These difficulties may be avoided by advancing the right elbow well to the front, at the same time raising it so that the arm is about parallel with the ground. The hollow of the shoulder will then be the natural place for the rifle butt, and the right thumb will be brought too far from the face to strike it in the recoil.
Some riflemen prefer, by bending the ankle, to rest the instep flat on the ground, the weight of the body coming more on the upper part of the heel; this obviates any tendency of the right knee to slip; or, by resting the right side of the foot on the ground, toe pointing to the front, to bring the weight of the body on the left side of the foot. These positions are authorized.
1377. Choice of Position. In firing kneeling, the steadiness obtained depends greatly upon the position adopted. The peculiarities of conformation of the individual soldier exert when firing kneeling a greater influence than when firing either standing, sitting, or prone; the instructor should, therefore, carefully endeavor, noticing the build of each soldier, to place him in the position for which he is best adapted and which will exert the least tension or strain upon the muscles and nerves. It should be remembered, however, that without the rest of the left elbow on the knee this position possesses no advantage of steadiness over the standing position.
1378. Kneeling Position; When Taken. The kneeling position can be taken more quickly than either the sitting or the prone position. It is, therefore, the position naturally assumed when a soldier, who is standing or advancing, has to make a quick shot at a moving or disappearing object and desires more steadiness than can be obtained standing.
Position and Aiming Drill, Sitting Down
1379. In many cases the men, while able to kneel and hold the piece moderately steady, can obtain in a sitting position much better results. All should, therefore, be instructed in aiming sitting down as well as kneeling.
To practice the soldier in the preceding exercises in a sitting position, the squad being formed in a single rank, with an interval of one pace between files, the rifle should first be brought to "Order arms"; the instructor then commands: Sit down.
At this command make a half face to the right and, assisted by the left hand on the ground, sit down, facing slightly to the right, the left leg directed toward the front, right leg inclined toward the right, both heels, but not necessarily the bottoms of the feet, on the ground, the right knee slightly higher than the left; body erect and carried naturally from the hips; at the same time drop the muzzle of the piece to the front, and to the position of the first motion of load, right hand upon the thigh, just in front of the body, the left hand slightly above, but not resting upon, the left leg.
The exercise will be executed as heretofore prescribed, except that at the command "Two" (position exercise) the soldier will rest the left elbow on the left knee, the point of the elbow in front of the kneecap, and the right elbow against the left or inside of the right knee, at the same time inclining the body from the hips slightly forward.
For the aiming and trigger-squeeze exercises the pasters, used as aiming points, will be 2-1/2 feet from the floor or the ground.
To afford the men rest or on the completion of the kneeling or sitting down exercises the instructor will command Rise, when the men rise, face to the front, and resume the "Order arms."
Remarks. If the preceding position is carefully practiced, steadiness is quickly attained. The right leg should not be carried so far to the right as not to afford a good support or brace for the right elbow.
This position may be modified, but, in general, not without impairing the steadiness of the man, by crossing the legs at the ankle, the outside of each foot resting upon the ground, body more erect, and the knees slightly more raised than in the previous position.
Position and Aiming Drill, Prone
1380. From the nature of the position it is not practicable to execute these exercises according to the method followed when standing or kneeling. Instruction will, however, always be given with reference to the position, to the manner of assuming it, and to aiming and squeezing the trigger.
For this purpose the squad being formed as specified above, in the position and aiming drill, sitting down (the black plasters therein mentioned being about 12 inches from the ground), the squad will be brought to "Order arms."
Then (the squad either standing or kneeling), the instructor commands: Lie down, which will be executed as prescribed in the Drill Regulations; the legs may be spread apart and the toes turned out if found to give a steadier position.
After the squad has taken the position as prescribed above, the legs should be inclined well to the left, and either crossed or separated as the soldier prefers or as his particular conformation appears to render most desirable, and the body at the same time inclined slightly to the right.
With care and practice the soldier may acquire an easy position which he is able to assume with great facility.
1381. Being at "Ready," the instructor then commands: 1. Trigger squeeze. 2. EXERCISE.
At the latter command carry the left elbow to the front and slightly to the right, the left hand under the barrel at the balance, weight of the body mainly supported by the left elbow, the right resting lightly on the floor or ground.
(Two.) Slide the rifle with the right hand through the left hand to the front until the left hand is a little in front of the trigger guard; at the same time raise the rifle with both hands and press it against the hollow of the shoulder.
(Three.) Direct the rifle upon the mark and carry out the further details of aiming and squeezing the trigger as prescribed in the trigger-squeeze exercise.
Then resume the position, lying down.
As soon as the men have acquired with accuracy the details of the position, they will be practiced, without the numbers, in aiming and squeezing the trigger at will; after which the rapid-fire exercise in the prone position will be practiced, the necessary skill and dexterity being acquired by degrees.
To afford the men rest, or on completion of the exercise, the instructor will command: Rise, which is executed as prescribed in the Drill Regulations.
1382. Remarks. The preceding position for firing lying down possesses in a greater degree than any other position the merit of adaptability to the configuration of the ground; it enables the soldier to deliver fire over low parapets or improvised shelters, thus making the best use of cover. The importance of training the soldier in firing from the other positions should not, however, be lost sight of, since from the prone position it will frequently be impossible to see the objective.
Back positions are not authorized.
In the prone position, when aiming, the left elbow should be well under the barrel, the other elbow somewhat to the right, but not so far as to induce any tendency to slip on the floor or ground.
The greater changes in elevation required in first directing the rifle on the object should be given by altering the position of the left hand under the barrel, the slighter changes only by advancing or withdrawing the shoulder.
As the body does not yield to the recoil, as when firing standing or kneeling, the force of recoil, if the rifle is not properly held, may severely bruise the soldier. It is one of the objects of this exercise to so teach him that this will be prevented by assuming a correct position. Care must be exercised that the butt is not brought against the collar bone. By moving the shoulder slightly to the front or rear, and by moving the right elbow from the body or toward it, each soldier may determine the position in which the shoulder gives to the butt of the rifle the easiest rest. This will probably be the one in which the force of the recoil will be least felt.
The soldier should persist in this exercise until he obtains a position in which he feels no constraint, which will not subject him to bruises from recoil, and from which the mark appears plainly through the sights. Having secured such a position, he must not change it when firing, as a variation in the points of support of the rifle, the distance of the eye from the rear sight, or the tension of the hold has a decided effect, especially at the longer ranges, upon the location of the point struck.
Important. The soldier should be encouraged to go through these exercises frequently at other than drill hours, care being taken that, in the aiming and trigger-squeeze exercises, he always has some definite object for a mark.
Deflection and Elevation Correction Drills
1383. Sight Correction. You may find when firing at a target that the first shot has missed the bull's-eye or figure. Now, one of two things may be done in order to cause the second shot to hit the bull's-eye or figure: (1) The point of aim may be changed, or (2) the sights may be moved and the same point as before aimed at.
In order to do accurate shooting it is necessary to have a well-defined mark at which to aim; consequently, except for very slight corrections, the method of moving the sights, involving changes in elevation and windage, is the one to be used.
Exercises. In order to give the soldier practice in making corrections in elevation and deflection (windage),—that is, in sight-setting,—proceed as follows:
Take an "A" target and rule it off with red vertical lines to represent range and black or blue horizontal lines to represent windage deviations, as in Fig. 33. Tell the men to set their sights (either peep or open) for 200 yards, no windage. Examine the sights (assisted by the lieutenants, noncommissioned officers and expert riflemen).
Then say, for example, "You have fired a shot at 200 yards with your sights set as you now have them. The shot was marked here (pointing to 'P,' Fig. 33). Change your sights so as to move the next shot into the bull's-eye,—considering that you take the same hold as you did the last time."
(Note. In this case the sight should be lowered 75 yards and 2 points of left windage should be taken.)
Repeat with different positions for "P" until the men all understand the method and the reasons. Do same for 300 yards, 500 yards, and 600 yards. See Figs. 34, 35, and 36.
Explain that in firing no change in sights should be made until the man is sure that his hold was good, and then change without hesitancy.
The correct use of sights and their proper adjustment can thus be taught without firing a shot. This exercise will save much time and work on the range.
Elevation. As previously explained, raising the rear sight increases the range of the bullet and lowering it decreases the range.
The amount of change which a given amount of elevation will cause in the point struck varies with the range and with the rifle and with the ammunition used.
For example, generally and approximately, in order, at a range of 500 yards, to change the point struck 1 foot, the rear sight must be changed 48 yards, while to change the point struck 1 foot at 1000 yards it must be changed 12 yards. That is to say, if you fired a shot at 300 yards, and then with the same aim, hold and other conditions as before, you raised your rear sight 48 yards, the next shot would strike the target 1 foot above the first one, and if you lowered the rear sight 48 yards, the bullet would then strike the target 1 foot below the first one. If firing at 1000 yards, raising the rear sight 12 yards would cause the bullet to strike the target 1 foot higher and lowering the rear sight 12 yards would cause it to strike 1 foot lower.
The following table gives the approximate changes in the rear sight to move the point struck 1 foot at ranges from 100 to 1000 yards:
- Correction in elevation Range necessary to change the point struck 1 foot - -+ 100 415 200 185 300 105 400 70 500 48 600 35 700 25 800 20 900 15 1,000 12 + - -
The score-books issued by the Ordnance Department contain elevation charts and all you have to do is to consult the chart of your score-book in order to get the amount of elevation necessary at any particular range in order to raise or lower your shots any desired distance.
1384. Deflection (windage). Corrections in the deflection (side movement) of the bullet are made by means of the windage screw that moves the movable base, each division of the graduations on the rear end of the movable base being called a "point of windage."
One point of windage moves the point struck 4 inches for each 100 yards of range.
That is to say, at 100 yards, 1 point of windage moves the point struck 4 inches; at 200 yards, 8 inches (2 x 4); at 300 yards, 12 inches (3 x 4), etc.
Consequently, if at 100 yards the wind were carrying your bullets 8 inches to the side, you would take two points of windage to get the bull's-eye, and if the wind were carrying your bullets 20 inches to the side, you would take 5 points of windage, irrespective of the rate at which the wind was blowing.
Again, if at 200 yards the wind were carrying your bullets 8 inches to the side, you would take 1 point of windage, and if it were carrying your bullets 20 inches to the side, you would take 2-1/2 points, irrespective of the rate at which the wind was blowing.
In using the wind gauge remember windage is always taken in the direction from which the wind is coming (into the wind) and the bullet moves in the same direction that the rear sight moves,—that is, if the wind is coming from the right, you take right windage and the bullet will strike to the right. Likewise if you move the rear sight to the left (take left windage), the bullet will strike to the left.
1385. Object and importance. After the soldier has been thoroughly instructed in sighting, and in the position, aiming, deflection, and elevation correction drills, he is exercised in firing at short ranges (50 and 75 feet) with the gallery practice rifle (.22 caliber).
Notwithstanding the value of the position and aiming drills, it is impossible to keep up the soldier's interest if these exercises are unduly prolonged. By gallery practice, however, the interest is easily maintained and further progress, especially in teaching the trigger squeeze, is made. Many of the external influences, which on the range affect the firing, being absent, the soldier is not puzzled by results for which, at this stage of his education, he could not account were he advanced to firing with full charges. Furthermore, as there is no recoil to induce nervousness or flinching, the soldier soon finds that he can make good scores, and this success is the surest stimulus to interest.
Not only to the beginner is gallery practice of value; to the good shot it is a means of keeping, to a certain extent, in practice, and practice in shooting, as much as in anything else, is essential. Since it can be carried on throughout the year, gallery practice is of much value in fixing in the men the habit of aimed fire, than which nothing in his training is of more importance.
1386. Having completed the gallery practice course, the soldier is then advanced to known-distance firing on the target range where he uses the service rifle, with service ammunition.
This known-distance practice is divided into certain regular courses and special courses.
The regular courses and Special Course A are for troops of the Regular Army.
There is also a special course for the Organized Militia and Volunteers and one for Volunteer recruits.
All the various courses are described in detail in the Small-Arms Firing Manual and anyone having occasion to use any of them should familiarize himself thoroughly therewith.
1387. Use of sling. After the soldier has been drilled in the proper standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions in the foregoing exercises, the use of the sling will be taught. Adjustments and their advantages will be taught with the idea of noninterference with quickness and freedom of action. The trigger squeeze exercises will then be continued in the different positions, using the sling.
1388. Description and adjustment. The sling is made up of four parts: the long strap, A, forming the arm loop; the short strap, B; and the two keepers, C and D. At one end of each of the straps there is a metal claw, used for adjusting the straps. At the other end of the short straps there is a metal loop through which the longer strap is passed, thus connecting the two straps.
To adjust the sling for firing, the claw of the short strap is disengaged and reengaged in the proper holes of the short strap, such adjustment as may be necessary being also made in the long strap (the arm loop).
1389. What the sling does. It does two things: (1) It steadies the rifle, and (2) helps to take up the recoil,—that is, to reduce the "kick."
Its use. There are a number of different methods of using the sling. Experiment with different ones until you find and decide upon the method best suited to you.
The sling should be used in all firing,—combat practice as well as at target practice.
Always adjust the sling so that it will be tight.
Have the arm loop no longer than is necessary to reach the middle of the small of the stock. When on the arm, have the lower end of the arm loop well up near the arm pit, with the keeper well pressed down so as to hold the loop fast.
Note the proper adjustments of the sling for the different firing positions,—that is, standing, sitting, kneeling, and prone, and mark the adjustments on the inside of the arm loop, "St" (standing), "Si" (Sitting), "K" (kneeling), and "P" (prone).
It is sometimes advisable to sew a piece of rope to your shirt sleeve to keep the sling from slipping down.
1390. To put on the sling. 1. Put your left hand in the loop, twisting the sling to the left, A, Fig. 38, and holding the rifle with the right hand as shown in the figure. Twisting the sling to the left causes a flat surface instead of the cutting edge of the sling to rest against the wrist.
2. Extend the arm on through the loop, (Fig. 39), bringing the loop well up near the pit of the arm, grasping the piece with the left hand, and pressing down keeper, A.
3. Place left hand between the sling and piece, (Fig. 40), the hand being pressed well forward toward the upper sling swivel, A. Notice how the back of the hand is resting against the flat of the sling.
4. Come to the position of aim, Fig. 41. Pressure is applied to the sling by pressing forward the left hand, and holding the rifle to the shoulder with the right hand. Remember that whatever pressure you apply must be the same for each shot.
Notice (Figs. 41 and 42) how well forward the left hand is, and how the flat of the sling is resting against the wrist and back of hand. See how the short strap, C, (Fig. 41), of the sling is correctly loose.
The thumb should be held along the stock as shown (A) in Fig. 42.
1391. Designation of winds. Winds are designated as "12 o'clock," "1 o'clock," "2 o'clock," etc., winds, depending on the direction from which they come.
Imagine the firing point to be in the middle of the face of a clock and the target to be at 12 o'clock; 3 o'clock will be on your right, 9 o'clock on your left, 6 o'clock in your rear and 12 in your front.
A wind blowing from your right to your left is called a 3 o'clock wind; one blowing from your rear is called a 6 o'clock wind; one from your front, 12 o'clock wind, etc.
The score-books issued by the Ordnance Department have windage charts that have been carefully worked out and all you have to do is this: Estimate the force of the wind in miles per hour, and determine the direction from which it comes (whether a 9 o'clock wind, a 2 o'clock wind, etc.). Then look at the windage chart and see just how much windage you must take.
The simplest and best rule for the beginner is for him to make his estimate and then ask an experienced shot what windage to use, checking this up with what he found on the windage chart. In this way he soon learns to estimate for himself.
Practice estimating the wind. Ask a man who has been making 5's and 4's what windage he used and check up with your own estimate.
You can find out the direction of the wind by watching smoke, grass or the limbs of trees.
Throw up some small straws and watch which way they are blown, or wet your finger and hold it up. The wind cools the side it strikes.
A 12 o'clock wind slows up the bullet and a 6 o'clock wind helps it along,—so, in the first case you would need more elevation and in the second less elevation.
1392. The zero of a rifle. The twist of the bullet given by the rifling of the barrel causes the bullet to move to right, which movement, called "the drift," is compensated by having the slot in the rear sight for the drift slide, slope to the left. However, in some rifles the compensation is too great and in others it is not enough.
That reading of the wind gauge necessary to overcome the drift of a rifle at a particular range is called the "zero" of that rifle for that range, and all allowances for wind should be calculated from this reading.
The "zero" of a rifle is found by shooting it on a perfectly calm day.
1393. Estimating distance. Ability to estimate distances correctly is an important part of a soldier's education.
While it is true that fire on the battlefield will usually be by groups and the ranges will be given by officers, the battlefield is reached only after a long series of experiences in scouting, patrolling, and outpost duty, in which the soldier is frequently placed in positions where it is necessary that he shall determine for himself the range to be used in order that his fire may be effective.
There are different methods of estimating the range (for example, by sound, trial shots, range-finding instruments, etc.), but the only ones that the average soldier need know are those of estimating distance by the eye and by trial shots.
To estimate distance by the eye with accuracy, it is necessary to be familiar with the appearance, as to length, of a unit of measure which can be compared mentally with the distance which is to be estimated. The most convenient unit of length is 100 yards. To impress upon the soldier the extent of a stretch of 100 yards two posts 100 yards apart, with short stakes between to mark each 25 yards, should be placed near the barracks, or on the drill ground, and the soldier required to pace off the marked distance several times, counting his steps. He will thus learn how many of his steps make 100 yards and will become familiar with the appearance of the whole distance and of its fractional parts.
Next a distance of more than 100 yards will be shown him and he will be required to compare this distance with the 100-yard unit and to estimate it. Having made his estimate, he will be required to verify its accuracy by pacing the distance.
A few minutes each day should be spent in this practice, the soldier often being required to make his estimate by raising his rear-sight leaf and showing it to the instructor. After the first drills the soldier should be required to pace the distance only when the estimate is unusually inaccurate.
The soldier should be taught that, in judging the distance from the enemy, his estimate may be corrected by a careful observation of the clearness with which details of dress, the movements of limbs or of the files in a line may be seen. In order to derive the benefit of this method, the soldier will be required to observe closely all the details noted above in single men or squads of men posted at varying distances, which will be measured and announced.
Although the standing and kneeling silhouettes used in field practice afford good objects upon which to estimate distances, the instructor should make frequent use of living figures and natural objects, as this is the class of targets from which the soldier will be compelled to estimate his range in active service.
1394. Methods of estimating long distances by the eye. The following methods are found useful:
(a) The soldier may decide that the object cannot be more than a certain distance away nor less than a certain distance; his estimates must be kept within the closest possible limits and the mean of the two taken as the range.
(b) The soldier selects a point which he considers the middle point of the whole distance, estimates this half distance and doubles it, or he similarly divides the distance into a certain number of lengths which are familiar to him.
(c) The soldier estimates the distance along a parallel line, as a road on one side, having on it well-defined objects.
(d) The soldier takes the mean of several estimates made by different persons. This method is not applicable to instruction.
1395. Determination of distance by trial shots or volleys. If the ground is so dry or dusty that the fall of the bullets is visible to the naked eye or through a field glass, distance may be determined by using a number of trial shots or volleys.
In the case of individual trial shots, the soldier sets his sight at the estimated range, watching to see where the bullet strikes,—or some other man, with or without field glasses, may watch to see where it strikes. If the bullet strikes beyond the target, the estimated sight setting is decreased; if it falls short, the sight setting is increased.
In case of volleys, the sights are set at the estimated range and a volley is fired. If it appears to strike a little short of the mark, an increase in elevation of 100 yards is used for the next volley. When we have the target inclosed between two volleys, we take the mean of the estimated ranges for the correct range. For example, if the first estimated range were 1000 and the second 1100, the correct range would be 1050.
1396. Appearance of objects: How modified by varying conditions of light; difference of level, etc. During instruction the men should be taught the effect of varying conditions of light and terrain upon the apparent distance of an object.
Objects seem nearer—
(a) When the object is in a bright light.
(b) When the color of the object contrasts sharply with the color of the background.
(c) When looking over water, snow, or a uniform surface like a wheat field.
(d) When looking from a height downward.
(e) In the clear atmosphere of high altitudes.
Objects seem more distant—
(a) When looking over a depression in the ground.
(b) When there is a poor light or a fog.
(c) When only a small part of the object can be seen.
(d) When looking from low ground upward toward higher ground.
1397. Effect of heat and cold. Heat causes shots to strike high, and cold causes them to strike low.
Therefore, if you shot on a warm day and made 5's, and recorded temperature and other conditions in your score-book, you would know on looking at your score sheets that you should raise your elevation, if you were firing on a cold day.
1398. Effect of moisture. Dampness causes shots to strike high and dryness causes them to strike low. Therefore, on damp days take lower elevations than on dry days.
1399. Effect of light. Light affects the aiming without the beginner knowing it. It does not, however, affect the travel of the bullet.
A dark target causes a tendency to aim farther below the bull's-eye than if the target were bright. Therefore, use higher elevations with dark targets. As it gets darker, higher elevations should be used.
If you always aim carefully and correctly the light will have little effect on your aiming,—that is, if your eyesight is good.
If you are shooting in a dull light and a bright sun comes out, say on your right, there is a tendency to move the front sight to the opposite (left) side of the rear sight notch, since the near (right) edge is shaded and obscured somewhat. Therefore 1/4 to 1/2 windage into the sun (right in this case) should be taken to overcome this.
In using battle sight, hold higher for a bright light.
We also raise our sights if a strong sun comes out. Therefore, we have this rule: Move your rear sight into the sun, just as you do for a wind,—and raise your elevation.
1400. Mirage gives a wavering appearance to the target. It is heated air that is moving. It is sometimes called "heat waves."
With the wind between 2 and 14 miles an hour on clear, hot days the waves can be seen moving across the target.
When there is no wind or a light six o'clock wind, the waves go straight up, or "boil." Never fire when the mirage is boiling,—wait for it to move from one side to the other and then take windage to correct for it.
1401. Summary of temperature, light and moisture effects:
Raise elevation for—
Dull target Shooting in the sun Hot gun Dirty gun Cold day Bright or shining sight Cloudy day 12 o'clock wind
Lower elevation for—
Bright target Target in sun Cold gun Clean gun Hot day Moist day Full sights 6 o'clock wind
1402. Firing with bayonet fixed. In firing with bayonet fixed usually a lower point on the target will be struck, corresponding to a reduction of about 50 yards in the range.
1403. Care of rifle. Since the accuracy of a soldier's rifle has a most important bearing on his shooting, and since the proper care of a rifle affects its accuracy, the care of the rifle is an important subject in which every soldier should be thoroughly instructed. The subject is fully covered in the preceding chapter. (Chapter XV, Part I).
1404. General scheme. While individual instruction is most important, it is not everything. The maximum effect of fire in battle is obtained when a command, as a whole, is a pliable, manageable, effective instrument in the hands of a commander who can use it intelligently and efficiently. Therefore, the two objects to be obtained are:
1. To make the command a pliable, manageable, effective instrument in the hands of its commander.
2. To train and instruct the commander so that he will know how to use this instrument in an intelligent and efficient manner.
1405. To make the fire unit a pliable, manageable, efficient instrument. In order that a unit may be a pliable, manageable, efficient instrument in the hands of its commander, he must be able to control the unit absolutely,—that is to say, not only must the individuals composing the unit be so trained that they will respond at once, even in the din and confusion of battle, to the will of the commander, as expressed by his orders, but they must also be so instructed and disciplined that they can, as individual parts of the unit, perform their functions efficiently. This is accomplished by fire discipline.
1406. Fire discipline. By fire discipline is meant a habit of obedience, a control of the rifle, and a display of intelligence, all the result of training, which will enable the soldier in action to make hits instead of misses. It embraces taking advantage of the ground; care in setting the sight and delivery of fire, including proper fire distribution; constant attention to the orders of the leaders and careful observation of the enemy; an increase of fire when the target is favorable, and a cessation of fire when the enemy disappears; economy of ammunition.
1407. To train and instruct the commander to use the unit with intelligence and efficiency. In order to handle the unit with intelligence and efficiency, utilizing to the greatest extent possible the power of all the rifles under his command, not only must the commander be able to control the unit, having it respond at once to his every command, but he must also know tactics, and be thoroughly familiar with the technical principles of infantry fire.
1408. Combat exercises. A combat exercise consists of the application of tactical principles to certain assumed battle situation, in the execution of which are employed the appropriate formations and movements of close and extended order drill, and in which, as a rule, ball cartridges are used in firing at the targets.
By means of combat exercises, the unit commanders are trained and instructed in applying tactical principles, in controlling and directing the fire of their units and the men are trained and instructed in fire discipline.
The tactical principles applicable to combat exercises are covered in the Infantry Drill Regulations, under the headings of "Fire" and "Combat."
1409. Technical principles of firing. The technical principles of firing are given in detail in the Small-Arms Firing Manual, a summary of which is given below under the headings of, The Effect of Fire, The Influence of the Ground, and The Adjustment of Fire.
The Effect of Fire
1410. Ballistic qualities of the rifle. The accuracy of a rifle, the flatness of its trajectory, and its disabling power,—that is, the power it has to disable the enemy,—are called its ballistic qualities.
The accuracy of the U. S. Springfield rifle, caliber .30, model of 1903, is very high,—probably superior to that of any other military rifle.
The flatness of trajectory is dependent upon the muzzle velocity, and, to some extent, upon the form of the bullet. Our bullet is pointed and the muzzle velocity is 2700 feet per second, which is a very high muzzle velocity.
Two rifles of different type may be equally accurate, but the accuracy of the one having the flatter trajectory will, naturally, be less affected by slight errors in sight setting.
Again, another advantage of the rifle with the flatter trajectory is that it holds more ground under its fire. For example, take our service rifle: At a range of 500 yards, the bullet, at the highest point in its trajectory or line of flight, is 2 feet above the line of sight. It is, therefore, apparent that if the bottom of an object 2 feet or greater, is aimed at, it would be struck if it were anywhere under 500 yards. Now, take a rifle with a very curved trajectory, say one whose bullet, at the highest point of the trajectory corresponding to a range of 500 yards, is 10 feet above the line of sight. There will be a large extent of ground between the target and the rifle that is not danger space for a target 2 feet above the line of sight. Hence, we see that the rifle with the flatter trajectory is better.
The continuous danger space afforded by the flat trajectory of our service rifle enables us to adopt a universal sight for all ranges up to 500 yards,—that is, the battle sight, which is the rear sight ready for use when the sight leaf is laid down.
1411. Cone of fire or cone of dispersion. If a body of soldiers fire at the same target the bullets will not, of course, follow the same path, but will be scattered. This is due to differences in sights, parts of the rifle, ammunition, and to a greater extent, to the individual errors of the soldiers in aiming and firing.
The trajectories or paths of the bullets considered together form a horn-shaped figure or cone, called the Cone of fire or cone of dispersion. (See Fig. 44.)
1412. Shot group and center of impact. If the cone of fire be intercepted by a target (for example, A O, Fig. 44) at right angles to the axis of the cone, the shot holes will make a pattern or group called the shot group, the holes being the thickest approximately in the center of the group, called the center of impact. From this point in all directions the density of the grouping decreases progressively,—at first gradually, then more rapidly, out to the limits of the group.
Naturally, the size of the cone of fire and of the shot group vary with the skill of those firing, good shots making a small cone and small group, and poor shots a large cone and large group.
1413. Beaten zone. The intersection of the cone of dispersion with the surface of the ground is called the beaten zone.
If the surface of the ground is horizontal, the form of the beaten zone is that of an ellipse with its longer axis in the direction of the line of fire, as shown in Fig. 45.
In view of the fact that at the long ranges the angle of fall of the bullets is much greater than at short ranges, it follows that at short ranges the elliptical figure (beaten zone) is much more elongated than at long ranges. In other words, the longer the range, the shorter is the depth of the beaten zone. This is shown in Fig. 45.
1414. Uncertainty and ineffectiveness of long-range fire. It follows from what has been said, that as the range increases the length of the beaten zone decreases,—that is, a less depth of ground is held under fire. That being the case, if an error is made in sight setting due, for example, to an incorrect estimate of the range, the proportionate loss of fire effect due to misplacement of the center of impact will be greater as the beaten zone is less,—that is, as the range is greater.
Furthermore, the difficulty of exact range determination increases with the distance, the two influences combining to make long-range fire uncertain and usually ineffective.
1415. Zone of effective fire. That portion of the ground which contains the best 75 per cent of the shots in the beaten zone, is called the zone of effective fire.
Effectiveness of Fire
1416. Factors involved. The effectiveness of fire depends upon these three factors:
(1) The percentage of hits made; (2) The number of targets hit; (3) The time of execution.
That is to say, the effectiveness of fire is determined by the number of enemies disabled or targets hit in a given time.
1417. Percentage of hits. By the percentage of hits is meant the proportion of all the bullets fired that hit the targets. For example, if 1000 bullets are fired and 750 hit the targets, then the percentage of hits is 75.
The percentage of hits depends upon the dispersion, and this is influenced by the precision of the arm, the range, the visibility of the target, the atmospheric conditions, the training and instruction of the troops, and upon their physical and moral state at the time. In addition, the percentage of hits also depends upon the character of the ground as favoring ricochet hits, upon the correct estimation of the range and the proper designation of the target.
1418. Number of targets hit. The number of targets hit,—that is, the distribution of fire,—may be affected by varying degrees of visibility, as men instinctively choose the more conspicuous marks as aiming points. Under any circumstances, a poor distribution of the hits made will be due to an absence of proper instructions from the leaders; or, in other words, to poor control, or else to a want of understanding or lack of obedience on the part of the men.
1419. Time of execution. The time of execution is important in that the gaining of fire superiority is dependent less upon obtaining high percentages of hits than upon making an absolutely large number of hits in a unit of time. There is necessarily a limit to the rapidity of fire which, if exceeded, will result in some loss of accuracy. With targets of a fair degree of visibility, the following may be taken as standard rates of fire for troops who have been given suitable training in target practice:
200 yards } 300 yards } 10 shots per minute. 400 yards }
500 yards } 600 yards } 7.5 shots per minute. 700 yards }
800 yards } 900 yards } 5 shots per minute. 1,000 yards }
Greater ranges, 3 shots per minute.
The rates given should not exclude higher rates of fire in the case of large and conspicuous targets. On the other hand, when objectives, or marks used as aiming points, are very indistinct, the requirement of correct aiming imposes rates of fire somewhat lower than the standard rates given even for well-instructed men.
With imperfectly trained men who have not fully acquired the habit of using aimed fire only, and who are lacking in the manual dexterity required for executing the standard rates of fire, the maximum rate can not well exceed six shots per minute without incurring the danger of lapsing into unaimed fire.
Fatigue and exhaustion, the results of marches or prolonged firing, have a detrimental influence and tend to lower the rates of effective fire.
Influence of Ground
1420. Defilade. If we will consider a bullet just grazing the top of an impenetrable obstacle (like "A," Fig. 46), the space from the top of such obstacle to where the bullet strikes the ground (space B E, Fig. 46) will be protected from fire. Such space is called, "defiladed space." Its extent will, of course, depend on the height of the obstacle, the curvature of the trajectory and the slope of the ground in rear of the obstacles.
Between B and D, a soldier standing would be completely protected; between D and E, he would be only partially protected. To obtain complete protection between D and E the soldier would have to assume the kneeling or prone position, depending on how far away from D he was.
By cover is meant effective defilade from the enemy's fire.
By concealment is meant screening from view but not necessarily protection from fire.
1421. Rising and falling ground. The influence of the ground upon the effect of fire is at once seen by studying Fig. 44.
If the ground rises, as shown by B O and A O, the depth of the beaten zone (and consequently the effect of fire) decreases. On the other hand, if the ground falls (up to a certain point), the depth of the beaten zone (and consequently the effect of fire) increases.
1422. Depth of beaten zone affects only targets having depth. It should be remembered that depth of beaten zone can affect only targets which have depth.
On a target in the form of a line,—a line of skirmishers, for example,—the depth of the beaten zone has no effect one way or the other. If such a target, however, is backed up by supports and reserves, the depth of the beaten zone may have a decided effect on them, depending upon their distance in rear of the line forming the target and the slope of the ground in rear of such target.
In this connection, attention is invited to Fig. 47, which shows how in the case of a fire delivered from a height at a target on a horizontal plane beneath, the beaten zone is shortened and consequently the fire effect decreased.
An example of increasing the depth of beaten zone is seen in Fig. 48, which shows a fire delivered from low ground at a target on the edge of a plateau or crest of a ridge from which the ground slopes to the rear.
1423. Grazing fire. Shots which pass over a crest with an angle of fall conforming, or nearly conforming, to the slope of the ground beyond the edge of the crest (as shown in Fig. 48), are called grazing shots and fire so delivered is called grazing fire.
1424. Diminution or increase in fire effect due to rising and falling ground. In connection with the diminution or increase in fire effect due to rising and falling ground, attention is invited to the following:
1. If the ground slopes upward to the rear from a firing line, the supports may be placed closer without increasing the danger from fire aimed at the firing line.
2. When the ground slopes down and to the rear from the firing line forming the target, the supports must be posted at a greater distance in rear, unless the slope is so much greater than the angle of fall of the hostile bullets that a defiladed space is created in which no bullets strike, in which case the supports may be brought up close to the crest.
3. On ground rising with respect to the line of sight, column targets (i. e., having depth) will suffer greater losses than lineal targets.
4. On ground falling with respect to the line of sight, the reverse slope of hills or the level grounds of plateaus, line targets will suffer the greater losses.
1425. Ricochet shots. When a bullet strikes any surface and is deflected it is called a ricochet shot.
Not only do bullets that ricochet usually tumble after striking, but they are also mutilated, so that wounds inflicted by ricochet hits are usually severe.
The most favorable ground for ricochets is a smooth, hard, horizontal surface, the aim being low, the chance of ricochets in sand is very slight.
1426. Occupation of ground. The question of the occupation of ground presents these two aspects:
1. What firing positions may be chosen which will tend to increase the losses of the enemy?
2. What positions may be chosen and formations adopted to minimize our own losses?
The selection of a defensive position presents this question: Shall it be near the crest or well down the slope?
A position well down the slope
1. The depth of the beaten zone for fire delivered from the position is increased and the upper portion of the cone of fire will include the supports and reserves advancing to reenforce the hostile firing line. That is to say, the fire will be a grazing fire.
2. It eliminates dead spaces that might otherwise exist at the bottom of the slope.
3. The hostile fire being directed against a point well down the slope, the high ground in rear will interpose as a defilade and intercept the upper portion of the cone of fire which might otherwise take effect on the supports and reserves behind the crest.
1. It makes withdrawal difficult in case it becomes necessary to fall back.
2. It is difficult to reenforce the firing line.
A position near the crest
1. It favors observation of the enemy.
2. It makes withdrawal easy in case it becomes necessary to fall back.
3. It is easy to reenforce the firing line by the supports advancing from behind the crest.
1. The depth of the beaten zone is decreased and consequently the cone of fire will probably not include the supports and reserves advancing to reenforce the hostile firing fire. In other words, the fire will be a plunging fire.
2. It is likely to result in dead spaces at the bottom of the slope.
3. It affords a good target for the hostile artillery.
Whether or not a position near the crest or a position down the slope should be chosen, depends, in each case, upon circumstances.
For instance in a rear guard action, where a determined stand is not contemplated, a position near the crest would be occupied. On the other hand, if a determined stand were contemplated, the terrain offered good opportunity for the delivery of an effective grazing fire, and we had reason to believe that we were going to be subjected to heavy artillery fire, a position at the foot of the slope would be selected.
However, it may be said that, in general, a defensive position should be near the bottom of the slope.
1427. Gentle reverse slopes. From the point of view of avoiding losses, all gentle reverse slopes are dangerous and are to be avoided when possible.
When necessary to traverse or to occupy such ground, precautions must be taken to protect the reserves or other bodies of troops by placing them on the flanks; by disposing them in formations with a narrow front; by causing them to lie down; by the construction of suitable shelter, and by avoiding useless movements.
Adjustment of Fire
1428. Fire at stationary targets. The correct adjustment of fire is attained by causing the center of impact to fall on the center of the target. This is the problem constantly presented in combat firing.
The two important elements entering into this problem are, (1) the commander and (2) the troops. When a body of troops has aimed correctly at the target indicated, with the elevation ordered and has fired with steadiness, it has done all that can be expected of it, but that is not sufficient; for, if the commander, by giving the wrong sight-setting, for example, has failed to cause the center of impact to fall on the center, of the target, the result may be nothing. Hence the vital importance of knowing and announcing the correct range.
It is known that good shots make a small group and poor shots a large group, average shots making a group of intermediate size.
It is frequently stated that troops composed of good shots are not so effective in collective firing as poorer shots. How is this possible? The explanation is simple. The shot group of the good shots is small and if misplaced by an error in range estimation few hits result while the shot group of poorer shots, being larger, is not so much affected by the same error in range estimation, will cover the ground, and probably hit more figures. This, of course, is only true when a considerable error has been made in estimating the range.
As battle targets are mostly line targets, a displacement to the right or left does not amount to much, but an error in depth (range), as stated before, is serious. Thus we, see that the correct determination of the range is very important.
1429. Determination of range. The range may be determined, with only a small error, by a range finder. There are several other methods, as, for instance, by trial shots,—the dust thrown up by the bullet showing whether the range is too short or too great,—by sound, by the appearance of objects, etc., but except in deliberately prepared defensive positions, estimating by eye will be the most practicable method of estimating the range. For all practical purposes a very satisfactory result will be obtained by taking the average estimates of several trained men.
In observing the effect of the fire the ground may be wet, or covered with turf, sod or brush in which no signs of striking shots can be seen. By careful use of good field glasses some indication of the place where the shots are going, may be obtained. The actions of the enemy may often indicate whether the fire is effective or not.
1430. Combined sights. All other means failing, combined sights may be resorted to. By this is meant firing part of the troops with sights set at one range and part with a range greater or less by 100 yards or more. This increases the beaten zone and will generally assure a certain amount of fire effect. This method is seldom used under 500 yards.
1431. Auxiliary aiming points. It frequently happens that the target is so well concealed that it is invisible. In this case some well defined object in front or behind it must be used as an aiming target, and the range given so that the beaten zone will include the actual target at its center.
1432. Fire at moving targets. In firing at a moving enemy, a beaten zone must be established immediately in front, his forward movement into this zone completing the adjustment of fire. Due to the chance of overestimating the range, a sight-setting must be taken well under the estimated range (usually about 200 yards against advancing infantry).
When the fire becomes effective, as may be judged by the actions and movements of the enemy, the rate of fire should be quickened in order to increase the effect of the fire.
Frequent changes of sight not only cause a loss of time, but they also multiply chances of error in sight-setting. Changes in sight-setting against advancing infantry should not be less than 200 yards at a time, that is to say, when the enemy has passed through the zone of effective fire, the sight should be lowered 200 yards and the operation repeated until the battle-sight zone is reached, when the rear-sight leaf is thrown down and no other sight manipulation is made.
Against skirmish lines advancing by rushes, the sight-setting should not be changed during a rush, but it should be done at the halts, so that the greater vulnerability of the targets presented during the rush may be taken advantage of.
Against retreating infantry, use the estimated range, and when the target appears to have passed beyond the zone of effective fire, add 200 yards to the sight-setting.
Against attacking cavalry, due to the rapidity of the advance, there will not usually be time for sight manipulation other than throwing down the rear-sight leaf, so that the battle should be resorted to at all ranges.
In firing at a target moving across the line of fire it is desirable, on account of the confusion caused thereby, to hit the head of the column. It is necessary, therefore, to hold to the front a distance sufficient to allow for the time of flight and the rate of march. This will be accomplished by the observance of the following rough rules:
1. Against infantry, hold against the head of the marching column;
2. Against cavalry at a trot, hold to the front 1 yard for every 100 yards of range; and at a gallop, 2 yards for every 100 yards of range.
1433. Night firing. In night firing it is almost impossible to adjust the fire by ordinary means.
In night attacks the purpose of the offensive is to gain rapidly and quietly a position where the issue may be decided in a hand to hand encounter, or a position from which the superiority of fire may be gained at daylight. For the offensive, therefore, fire action is a subordinate consideration.
On the defensive, when a night attack is apprehended, preparations should be made to sweep with fire the ground immediately in front over which the assailant must advance.
Special arrangements may sometimes be made for resting rifles on the parapet, so that the ground in front will be suitably covered. A solid support is necessary for maintaining the proper direction of the pieces during firing. For this purpose notched boards or timbers are convenient. The arrangements should be such that the operations of loading and firing may be performed without removing the rifles from the support.
Searchlight illumination may reveal the position and movements of the enemy sufficiently well to permit the use of the sights. In night operations of small parties fire may be well directed when a bright, well-defined light, such as a camp fire, is presented as an aiming point. In such a case a slight illumination of the front sight is required.
Fire Direction and Control
1434. General. As stated before in substance, the maximum effect of fire can be gotten only by instructed and disciplined troops under a commander capable of directing and controlling their fire properly.
The fire of a company may be likened to spraying water from a hose, and as the fireman can shift his stream of water from one point to the other with certainty, being able to direct and control it with promptness and accuracy, so should the company commander be able to switch the cone of fire of his company from one target to another, having it at all times under direction and control. In other words, as the pliable, manageable hose responds to the will of the fireman, so should the company be so trained and instructed that it will respond to the will of the company commander on the firing line, in the midst of the noise and confusion of battle. No one except a man who has been in battle can realize how great are the noise and confusion, and how necessary and important are cooeperation, team-work, discipline, and communication, in order for a company commander to control and direct the fire of the company—there must be absolute cooeperation, team-work, and communication between all parts of the company—between the captain and the platoon leaders, the platoon leaders and the squad leaders, and the squad leaders and the members of their squads. Each and every man must know and do his part and endeavor all he can to keep in touch with and help the others. Now, the foundation of team-work and cooeperation, is communication—communication between the company commander and the men on the firing line—the means by which, the medium through which he will make known his will to the men on the firing line. As stated before, because of the noise and confusion on the firing line this is no easy matter. The ideal way would be for the company commander to control the company by communicating direct with every man on the firing line, as graphically shown on the following page:
However, in the noise and confusion of battle it would be utterly impossible for all the men to hear the captain's voice. Experience shows that from 20 to 35 rifles are as many as one leader can control. The captain, must, therefore, control the company through the platoon commanders—that is to say, he actually directs the fire and the platoon commanders, assisted by the squad leaders, actually control it. In other words, the captain communicates with the men on the firing line, he makes his will known to them, through his platoon commanders, as graphically shown in this diagram:
However, in order for our system of communication to be successful, each and every man, as stated above, must know and do his part and endeavor all he can to help the others. If this is done, then the different parts and elements of the company will dove-tail and fit into one another, resulting in a complete, homogeneous whole, in the form of an efficient, pliable, manageable instrument in the hands of the company commander. And this is the object, the result, sought by practice and instruction in field firing, and which will be obtained if the captain, the platoon leaders, the squad leaders, the file closers, the musicians, and the privates, will perform the following duties and functions:
1435. The Captain. (Fire direction.)
The captain directs the fire of the company or of designated platoons. He designates the target, and, when practicable, allots a part of the target to each platoon. Before beginning the fire action he determines the range, announces the sight setting, and indicates the class of fire to be employed, and the time to open fire. Thereafter, he observes the fire effect, corrects material errors in sight setting, prevents exhaustion of the ammunition supply, and causes the distribution of such extra ammunition as may be received from the rear. (I. D. R. 249.)
Having indicated clearly what he desires the platoon leaders to do, the captain avoids interfering, except to correct serious errors or omissions. (I. D. R. 240.)
1436. The Platoon Leaders. (Fire direction.)
In combat the platoon is the fire unit. (I. D. R. 250.)
Each platoon leader puts into execution the commands or directions of the captain, having first taken such precautions to insure correct sight setting and clear description of the target or aiming point as the situation permits or requires; thereafter, he gives such additional commands or directions as are necessary to exact compliance with the captain's will. He corrects the sight setting when necessary. He designates an aiming point when the target cannot be seen with the naked eye.