Marksmanship Fundamentals

The four fundamentals for firing are the same for all machine guns, they are steady position, aim, breath control, and trigger control.

a. Steady Position. In automatic fire, position is the most important aspect of marksmanship. If the gunner has a good zero, correctly aims his weapon, and properly applies a steady hold in firing a burst of automatic fire, the first round of that burst hits the target at the point of aim. However, this procedure is not necessarily true of the second and third rounds. The first round hits the aiming point the same as when a round is fired singularly. The recoil from the first and subsequent rounds progressively disturb the lay of the weapon with each round of the burst. The relationship between the point of impact of the first and subsequent rounds of the burst depends on the stability of the gunner's position. His body, directly behind the weapon, serves as the foundation, and his grip serves as a lock to hold the weapon against the foundation. The better the body alignment and the steadier the grip, the less dispersed the rounds of a burst of automatic fire will be.

b. Aim. To aim the machine gun, the gunner must align the sights, focus his eye, obtain a correct sight picture, control his breathing, and maintain trigger control.

(1) Sight Alignment. To obtain correct align, the gunner centers the front sight post in the aperture of the rear sight. For a correct sight picture, the gunner centers the target over the front sight post so that it appears to rest lightly on top of the sight. The aspects of obtaining an accurate initial burst through sight alignment and sight picture, trigger manipulation, and zeroing are the same for tripod training as for bipod training

(2) Focus of the Eye. A good firing position places the eye directly on line with the center of the rear sight. The gunner must focus on the tip of the front sight post. The natural ability of the eye to center objects in the rear sight and to seek the point of greatest light aids in providing correct sight alignment.

(3) Sight Picture. A correct sight picture has the target, front sight post, and rear sight aligned. The sight picture consists of sight alignment and placement of the aiming point on the target. The gunner aligns the front sight post in the center of the rear sight and then aligns the sights with the target. The top of the front sight post is aligned on the center base of the target (Figure 4-2).

Figure 4-2. Sight picture.

Figure 4-2. Sight picture.

c. Breath Control. When firing in bipod-mounted mode, two types of breath control are used. When firing single shots, as in zeroing, the gunner stops breathing after most of the air has been exhaled during the normal breathing cycle. He fires before he feels any discomfort. During automatic fire, ideally, the gunner exhales and stops his breath when pressing the trigger. He does not have time to take deep breaths between bursts. He must hold his breath before each burst or adapt his breathing by taking quick shallow breaths or taking deeper breaths between several bursts.

d. Trigger Control. Pressing the trigger straight to the rear and releasing it helps control the number of rounds in each burst and prevents disturbing the lay of the weapon. For this the gunner must learn how to manipulate the trigger so, that he may get the desired burst he wishes to obtain.

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