Soldiers should be well trained in all aspects of slow semiautomatic firing before attempting any automatic training. Those who display a lack of knowledge of the fundamental skills should not advance to automatic fire training until these skills are learned. Initial training should focus on the modifications to the fundamentals and other basic combat skills necessary during automatic firing.
Dry-Fire Exercises. Repeated dry-fire exercises are the most efficient means available to ensure soldiers can apply these modifications. Multiple dry-fire exercises are needed, emphasizing a stable position and point of aim, followed by breath control and the appropriate trigger squeeze. Blanks or dummy rounds may be used to train trigger squeeze, rapid magazine changes, and application of immediate action. The soldier should display knowledge and skill during these exercises before attempting live fire.
Live-Fire Exercises. There are two types of live-fire exercises.
Individual. Emphasis is on each individual maintaining a heavy volume of fire. Weapon down time (during immediate action and rapid magazine changes) is held to a minimum. Firing can begin at 25 meters, progressing to 50 meters as soldiers display increased proficiency. Exposure or engagement times, as well as ranges, are varied to best simulate the need for a heavy volume of fire. Downrange feedback is necessary to determine effectiveness of fire. The course of fire should allow the soldier to decide whether he should engage a given target or area with automatic or semiautomatic fire.
A soldier's zero during automatic fire may be different than his semiautomatic (battlesight) zero. This is due to the tendency of the lightweight M16 barrel to respond to external pressure such as the bipod or pulling on the sling. However, it is recommended that the battlesight zero be retained on the rifle and hold off used to place automatic fire on the target. This holdofff training requires downrange feedback and should be conducted before other live-fire exercises.
The soldier can begin by loading and firing one round from an automatic fire position. Three of these rounds, treated as a single group, can establish where the first shot of a three-round burst will probably strike. Loading and firing two rounds simulates the dispersion of the second shot of a three-round burst. Finally, several three-round bursts should be fired to refine any necessary hold off to center these larger groups on the desired point of impact.
Unit. Unit LFXs should include the careful use of automatic fire. Emphasis should be on staggered rapid magazine changes, maintaining a continuous volume of heavy fire, and conserving ammunition.
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