7-14. UNASSISTED NIGHT FIRE TRAINING
Trainers must consider the impact of limited visibility on the soldier's ability to properly apply the fundamentals of marksmanship and combat firing skills. During limited visibility, a firer cannot generally use his sights in most situations and without artificial illumination the sights block his field of vision. These fundamentals and skills include:
a. Operation and Maintenance of the Weapon. Handling the weapon, performing operation and function checks, loading and unloading, and maintenance are all affected by nighttime conditions. Movements are slower, tasks take longer to complete, vision is impaired, and equipment is more easily misplaced or lost. Because combat conditions and enforcement of noise and light discipline restrict the use of illumination, soldiers must be trained to operate, service, and clean their weapons in total darkness. Although initial practice of these tasks should occur during daylight to facilitate control and error correction, repeated practice during actual nighttime conditions should be integrated with other training. Only through repeated practice and training can the soldier be expected to perform all tasks efficiently.
b. Immediate Action. Under normal conditions, a soldier should clear a stoppage in three to five seconds. After dark this task usually takes longer. Identifying the problem may be difficult and frustrating for the soldier. A hands-only technique of identifying a stoppage must be taught and practiced. Clearing the stoppage using few or no visual indicators must also be included. The firer must practice applying immediate action with his eyes closed. Dry-fire practice (applying SPORTS) using dummy or blank rounds under these conditions is necessary to reduce time and build confidence. Training should be practiced first during daylight for better control and error correction by the trainer. Once the soldier is confident in applying immediate action in darkness, he can perform such actions rapidly on the firing line.
c. Marksmanship Fundamentals. The four marksmanship fundamentals apply to night firing. Some modifications are needed depending on the conditions. The firer must still place effective fire on the targets or target areas that have been detected.
(1) Steady Position. When the firer is firing unassisted, changes in his head position and or stock weld will be necessary, especially when using weapon-target alignment techniques. His head is positioned high so that he is aligning his weapon on the target and looking just over the iron sights. His cheek should remain in contact with the stock. Repeated dry-fire practice, followed by live-fire training, is necessary to learn and refine these modifications and still achieve the steadiest position.
(2) Aiming. Modifications to the aiming process vary. When firing unassisted, the firer's off-center vision is used instead of pinpoint focus. Both eyes are open to gather the maximum available light, and are focused down range.
(3) Breathing. This fundamental is not affected by unassisted night fire conditions.
(4) Trigger Squeeze. This fundamental is not affected by unassisted night fire conditions. The objective is to not disrupt alignment of the weapon with the target.
d. Unassisted Night Firing Positions. The recommended firing position for use during limited visibility is the supported firing position. This position, when used during limited visibility, differs slightly from the supported position taught in earlier periods of instruction because the firer cannot use his sights during limited visibility; in fact, the sights block his field of vision. To effectively engage targets during limited visibility, the firer assumes a supported firing position, establishes a raised stock weld (looks 2 to 3 inches above the sights level with the barrel), points the weapon at the target, and fires in the semiautomatic mode. To obtain optimum results, the firer should keep his eyes open, and his head, arms, and rifle should move as one unit.
e. Unassisted Night Fire. The firer must detect and engage targets without artificial illumination or night vision devices. Potential target areas are scanned. When the target is detected, the firer should engage it using a modified quick-fire position. The firer should take a few seconds to improve weapon-target alignment by pointing slightly low to compensate for the usual tendency to fire high (Figure 7-22). Tracer ammunition may provide feedback on the line of trajectory and facilitate any adjustments in weapon-target alignment.
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