Moving Target Engagement

Of the five subjects taught in the revised ARM training program, more research has been devoted to issues surrounding moving target engagement than any other. This relatively greater emphasis was partly due to the fact that an ongoing range modernization program would soon enable soldiers to engage moving personnel targets with live fire. Rifle marksmanship simulators of the era were also beginning to feature moving targets for the first time.

Previous doctrine (Field Manual 23-9 of 1974) outlined four different points of aim for laterally moving personnel targets. Determining which of these four lead rules to use required soldiers to estimate the range and speed of the target. This approach appeared too complex for most soldiers to acquire with limited training.1 In the few seconds a moving target might be exposed, one would have to detect the target, estimate its range, estimate its speed, select the proper lead rule from memory, and then apply it properly while tracking the target.

In an attempt to simplify these procedures for moving target engagement, nine different lead rules were subjected to a trigonometric analysis to determine the theoretical locations of bullet impact with each lead rule.1 16 Various combinations of target speed, angle of movement, range, front sight post width, and projectile velocity were examined. A lead rule requiring the shooter to place the trailing edge of the front sight post at the target's center was found to work fairly well for all targets out to 200m. The advantage of this lead rule is that it automatically increases one's lead as the range to the target increases. Later experimentation with soldiers confirmed the theoretical advantages of the single lead rule concept under live fire conditions.1718

Additional research focused on comparing two methods for engaging laterally moving targets: tracking and trapping.1719 Tracking involves moving the barrel of the rifle to match the speed and direction of the target, as closely as possible. A lead is maintained throughout the firing process. In contrast, trapping involves steadily holding the barrel ahead of the target's anticipated path, and then firing the moment the proper amount of lead is seen through the sights. In an experiment based on rifle marksmanship simulator performance, trapping was found to be a better approach for those with a relatively low level of marksmanship ability, while tracking was found to work better for those having a relatively high level of ability.19 This experiment also

suggested trapping may work better for relatively close targets moving at faster speeds, while tracking may work better for more distant targets moving at slower speeds. The participants in the experiment preferred to use the method that gave them better results. Later experimentation under live fire conditions was inconclusive, though soldiers preferred to be taught both methods of moving target engagement."

Unit Training

Unit rifle marksmanship training must consider both individual and collective firing proficiency.' The individual portion of the unit marksmanship program was designed to insure skill retention and progressive improvement, while the collective portion of the program focused on the application of those skills in a group tactical environment.20 Unit marksmanship programs must also be flexible, to support the particular training environments of various units.21 22 Because time, facilities, and ammunition available for training vary among Active and Reserve Component units of the Army, unit training programs must be responsive to such variation.

Building upon improvements made in the BRM and ARM programs, selected components of a unit training program were successfully pilot tested in 1981 and 1982 at Fort Bragg, Fort Riley, and Fort Benning.'20 Following a two-day instructor training program, a 24-hour unit marksmanship program was conducted. On a 25m timed fire exercise using scaled silhouette targets, substantial increases in performance were measured after only the first eight hours of training.1

The collective skills portion of unit marksmanship training was less standardized than the individual firing portion, due to differing mission requirements across units. To support customization of unit training, ARI developed a Unit Rifle Marksmanship Training Guide that contained over 40 separate sections on a variety of marksmanship training activities.2122 It was designed so that individual sections could be selected and implemented by a unit as its training schedule permitted. It was published by the USAIS as Field Circular 23-11 in 1984.21

Equipment Research

In designing a rifle marksmanship training program, it is essential that both the positive and negative operational characteristics of the service rifle, as a man-machine weapon system, be fully understood.1 For this reason, ARI conducted a systematic and comprehensive equipment research effort concurrent with the early stages of its program development activities. This equipment research focused on the adequacy of

M16A1 rifle performance and its implications for marksmanship training.'5 Findings from this research guided the design of the BRM, ARM, and unit training programs in several important ways. In particular, they helped to determine which human performance variables were crucial to hitting targets and which were not. They also guided the establishment of instructional standards and helped to validate a new and easier method for zeroing at 25m. Later, another research effort examined features of the M16A2 rifle and described their implications for marksmanship training.23 It also provided numerous recommendations for improving the design of the service rifle.

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