During most phases of live fire (grouping, zeroing, qualifying), shots are delivered using the slow semiautomatic rate of fire (one round every 3 to 10 seconds). During training, this allows for a slow and precise application of the fundamentals. Successful suppressive fire requires that a faster but sustained rate of fire be used. Sometimes firing full automatic bursts (13 rounds per second) for a few seconds may be necessary to gain initial fire superiority. Rapid semiautomatic fire (one round every one or two seconds) allows the firer to sustain a large volume of accurate fire while conserving ammunition. The tactical situation dictates the most useful rate of fire, but the following must be considered:
Applying Fundamentals. As the stress of combat increases, some soldiers may fail to apply the fundamentals of marksmanship. This factor contributes to soldiers firing less accurately and without obtaining the intended results. While some modifications are appropriate, the basic fundamentals should be applied and emphasized regardless of the rate of fire or combat stress.
Making Rapid Magazine Changes. One of the keys to sustained suppressive fire is rapidly reloading the rifle. Rapid magazine changes must be correctly taught and practiced during dry-fire and live-fire exercises until the soldier becomes proficient. Small-unit training exercises must be conducted so that soldiers who are providing suppressive fire practice magazine changes that are staggered. Firing is, therefore, controlled and coordinated so that a continuous volume of accurate suppressive fire is delivered to the target area.
Conserving Ammunition. Soldiers must be taught to make each round count. Automatic fire should be used sparingly and only to gain initial fire Superiority. Depending on the tactical situation, the rate of fire should be adjusted so that a minimum number of rounds are expended. Accurate fire conserves ammunition, while preventing the enemy from placing effective fire on friendly positions.
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