On soldiers with no shooting experience...


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Beethoven
October 12, 2005, 04:22 PM
True or not, I've read many times how such-and-such agency or the military tries to procure smaller caliber weapons in order to accomodate both recoil-sensitive people and those who haven't shot much and might be put off by the recoil of a larger-caliber weapon.

Two questions:

1) Is this true in any way?

2) If this is true, why doesn't the military (ESPECIALLY the military) solve the problem by simply making recruits shoot more? A LOT more. Why don't they simply make all new recruits shoot A LOT?

In fact, the more I think about it, the less sense that concept makes; SEALs don't have any special SEAL skills before training; the military teaches them stuff!

If a recruit has not shot much or at all prior to enlisting, so freakin' what?

Teach him how to shoot!

Isn't that the purpose of training; to learn to do something you didn't already know how???

What's your take?

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BulletFan
October 12, 2005, 04:34 PM
I've never heard of the military actually teaching shooting skills on calibers smaller than a .223. I mean how much smaller could someone ask for? .17 mach? Too expensive. .22 caliber? Too inneffective. ANYONE can handle the felt recoil and noise of a .223, especially when it comes to an AR. And as far as agencies under the defense umbrella, I highly doubt that too. Any agent looking to carry a gun in the field typically has prior experience in the gun carrying department i.e., Law enforcement, military etc. You just don't get picked as an agent and issued a weapon without the confidence of your superiors to shoot somebody.

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 04:37 PM
We do teach soldiers to shoot. And we spend a lot of time in simulators and combat theaters -- where shooters face combat scenarios.

But we also face a population where more and more young men have never even held a rifle, let alone fired one. I suspect the modern recruit would be terrified of the '03 Springfield.

Ohen Cepel
October 12, 2005, 04:47 PM
The only times I have dealt with a sub-cal adapter (.22lr) for the M16 was for use on indoor ranges that wouldn't handle the 5.56 round.

I'm not aware of any other sub-cal training for small arms.

Now there are some for the bigger toys. Get's expensive to fire too many AT-4's in a day.

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 04:55 PM
One of the problems of the .22 adaptor from a training standpoint is that the sights are so high above the bore that when the rifle is sighted for one range, and you present targets at varying ranges, you must aim over the near targets and under the far targets. So for any kind of a scaled combat range it teaches you the opposite of what you should be learning.

Kurush
October 12, 2005, 05:02 PM
Well, it's definitely true that the FBI downloaded and eventually dropped 10mm Auto in favor of .40S&W because of recoil issues with less robust agents. I guess they decided it wasn't worth all the extra training and after all if the agent develops a bad flinch it doesn't matter what bullet they're shooting.

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 05:10 PM
Well, it's definitely true that the FBI downloaded and eventually dropped 10mm Auto in favor of .40S&W because of recoil issues with less robust agents.

It is a known fact that a cartridge which will not do the job in the hands of a six-foot, 180 lb male will kill reliably when fired by a 5'2", 105 lb female. :rolleyes:

Gordon Fink
October 12, 2005, 05:12 PM
But we also face a population where more and more young men have never even held a rifle, let alone fired one. I suspect the modern recruit would be terrified of the '03 Springfield.

I wonder how states that don’t recognize the RKBA have ever managed to field effective armies.…

~G. Fink

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 05:24 PM
I wonder how states that don’t recognize the RKBA have ever managed to field effective armies.…


By and large, they don't. But it often doesn't show, because they go up against other nations in a similar situation.

Amongst developed nations, there are three solutions -- one is to use masses of manpower, the second is to use masses of supporting weapons, and the third is to create a professional army and train it well. All of these are very expensive solutions -- the first in terms of lives, the second in terms of material, and the third in terms of money and limited capability.

Powderman
October 12, 2005, 05:58 PM
Matter of training? I suppose so.

But the problem is NOT the Army; it is the recruit. As it has been said, the average recruit nowadays has NEVER fired a rifle before.

Also, it is a financial consideration. Consider this: (caveat--I have no idea how they train now)

When I was in the annual qualification was a total of 80 rounds of rifle ammo. If you estimate an average of 90 soldiers in a peacetime company sized element, 80 rounds per soldier, at about $2.50 per 20 rounds (gov't price), that's $900 per year, per company.

$4500.00 per Battalion.
$13,500 per Brigade.
$121,500 per Division (assuming 3 maneuver Brigades, Combat Support, Combat Service/Support, Armor, Artillery and Air Defense Units attached)

Now, that's per year, in M16 ammo alone--and that's just for qualification time! Never mind that the average soldier will also shoot ammunition for zero and familiarization, night fire, training with NBC equipment, KD ranges, etc. That's a lot of cabbage to consider.

Add into that the rounds for 7.62, .50, 9mm, .45 ACP, hand grenades, 40mm grenades, etc.

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 06:02 PM
When I was in the annual qualification was a total of 80 rounds of rifle ammo.

And when you get right down to it, that isn't even training -- it's just a test to see how bad we are.

To train a rifleman from scratch takes literally thousands of rounds.

Of course with the simulators we have now, you can "fire" a lot for little cost, and do it in many varying scenarios.

Hawkmoon
October 12, 2005, 06:14 PM
Youngsters, the 5.56 (.223) IS the down-sized round. Whether or not that had anything to do with it's supplanting of the M14 I can't say. But I was in at the time of the transition. I trained on the M14, was assigned for awhile to a unit Stateside that had M1 carbines, and I saw my first M16 after I arrived in Vietnam.

During basic training, there were a LOT of fellow trainees who flinched ... badly ... when the M14 went off. It wasn't an issue for me because I grew up shooting and I loved guns, but for those who came from different backgrounds, it was a severe problem.

Langenator
October 12, 2005, 06:58 PM
The problem with adding more shooting, and thus more time on the range, to initial entry training is not the most obvious one-the cost of ammo. Uncle Sam pays somewhere between $0.005-$0.01 per round for 5.56 ball.

The problem is actually one of personnel and facilities. Adding more range time, and thus more time overall, to basic training means that each basic training company is able to train fewer batches of new soldiers per year. This means you need more companies (and battalions, etc), and more facilities for them to live in/train on, to train the same number of soldiers.

Building more barracks is relatively easy, though it requires $$$ and a few years to actually get them built. Ranges are slightly more difficult, requiring land (and a good bit of it) for the SDZs. The long pole in the tent is the drill sergeants and other cadre-the Army is short NCOs and officers as it is, without pulling more out of the line to fill more basic training units.

Gordon Fink
October 12, 2005, 07:04 PM
By and large, they don’t. But it often doesn’t show, because they go up against other nations in a similar situation.

Then the poor marksmanship of American recruits shouldn’t really be a problem. :D

~G. Fink

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 07:09 PM
Then the poor marksmanship of American recruits shouldn’t really be a problem.

Unless, of course, we want to win our wars.

James T Thomas
October 12, 2005, 07:32 PM
There is another problem too, and I believe that they are related.
That is the infantryman who when under fire, will not return fire; that is correct, there are those who for whatever reason, simply will not fire their weapon at all. Or if they are under scrutiny by their foxhole buddies, will fire over the enemy's heads. The ratio I had heard was as much as 1:4.

It is for these people that the lighter rounds have been tried, just to "encourage" all the riflement to engage the enemy. The theory may be that if enough firing is done that someone will be struck in all that hail of bullets. The reason for the full automatic selector, used during my tour of duty in Vietnam.

Surprise: even at close; jungle range, almost all of the automatic fire hit nothing but the bushes. The noise is comforting when you are scared to death, but the enemy is not too impressed. I had to restrict the men I was responsible for to well aimed semi-auto fire, and with that we became quite proficient.
Here it is right here: We would have been better off ammo wise and kill wise also to have used bolt action rifles which require aimed single shots, or at least the semi fire of the M14.
Our military is correct in changing the mode to three round bursts on the newer M16 models.

The problem is not all in marksmanship.

I have no idea of the mindset of such individuals; wishfull thinking that if I don't shoot at you, then don't you shoot at me. See, I'm a "good guy"!
(That is -liberal, I suppose) Perhaps screen out those with that world viewpoint from the combat arms for the sake of those who will bear arms.

Please give your replies combat vets.

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 07:51 PM
There is another problem too, and I believe that they are related.
That is the infantryman who when under fire, will not return fire; that is correct, there are those who for whatever reason, simply will not fire their weapon at all. Or if they are under scrutiny by their foxhole buddies, will fire over the enemy's heads. The ratio I had heard was as much as 1:4.


Those figures are from SLA Marshall's long-discredited "studies." Marshall faked his data.

Certainly in Viet Nam we had no problem with troops shooting in action -- and that included 95-lb Viet Namese binh sis armed with M1 rifles.

confed sailor
October 12, 2005, 07:57 PM
I suspect the modern recruit would be terrified of the '03 Springfield.

hmmm up at great lakes they handed us poor boots a air powered mossy simulator.
My RWS break barrel pellet rifle kicked harder.

though on the subject of recoil im all for protection

WarMachine
October 12, 2005, 08:10 PM
With a military that spends millions and even billions on R&D and production of aircraft alone, I would think that ammo costs wouldn't even be an issue.

entropy
October 12, 2005, 08:25 PM
I found as a range NCO that soldiers with only Basic Training experience, no prior rifle handling, were more easily trained becuse there were fewer if any bad habits to overcome. Those that had developed a flinch with the M16A1's we were issued usually had not been taught proper shoulder placement and cheek weld; combined with dime drills [dry firing flame suit *on*] and ball and dummy drills, this was often overcome within 10- 15 minutes on the range. Adding in the psychological assertation that one should concentrate on what the rifle (or pistol; I had to coach officers and aviators on the M1911A1's and M10 revolvers before we were issued the M9 popguns [Increase flamesuit to full power] ) will do to the target, not the shooter, and that you'll never feel the recoil in combat (or hunting for that matter), most soldiers were able to overcome any problems with recoil. As for those that believe in the 3 round burst limiter, that should be built into the soldier, IMHO, not the weapon; When I was in, (86-89) this was just starting to be retaught, although it was mostly a moot point as the A2's were being issued.
As many have already observed in this thread, far too little range time and far too few rounds are alotted for training our soldiers, sailors (to include CG), airmen, and marines. :(

enfield
October 12, 2005, 08:45 PM
I went to annual qualification with my new Army Reserve unit and got a little trophy for Worst Firer, 1971. I have an Rifle Expert's badge hanging from the little guy's gold arm (won at Fort Polk, LA, 1971).

Vern Humphrey
October 12, 2005, 09:19 PM
I found as a range NCO that soldiers with only Basic Training experience, no prior rifle handling, were more easily trained becuse there were fewer if any bad habits to overcome.

Poor or inadequate training -- which is what most kids get when they learn to shoot these days -- can indeed have a negative impact. The technical term is "proactive inhibition" -- what was learned earlier inhibits later training.

But that in itself is a consequence of the state to which the art of the rifle has fallen in this country. Johnny Junior can't shoot because Johnny Senior, who introduced him to shooting, can't shoot either. And neither can Grandpa Johnny.

Hardtarget
October 12, 2005, 09:57 PM
I've never been in the Army. I've had two men ( WWII age group) tell me of rifle training. I've seen both of these men shoot off and on, starting back in the sixties, and they can shoot. They both said the Gunnery Sgt. stated he had never had to teach a recruit from Tennessee how to shoot. That was then...this is now. I'm sure things are different today. Both of these men hunted , (and target shooting), before enlisting so that explains some of it. They both were in units with guys from big northeastern cities that had never shot rifles before Army training. Maybe its just a greater percentage now. Think what it would be like if your FIRST rifle was a M1 Garand :what: and today they're whinning about M16s! Its almost too funny!
Mark.

Rufus Pisanus
October 12, 2005, 11:23 PM
Originally posted by hardtarget:

Maybe its just a greater percentage now. Think what it would be like if your FIRST rifle was a M1 Garand

My first rifle WAS an M1A Garand (in 7.62 NATO)! I loved it!

goalie
October 13, 2005, 01:29 AM
I found as a range NCO that soldiers with only Basic Training experience, no prior rifle handling, were more easily trained becuse there were fewer if any bad habits to overcome.

+1

Lupinus
October 13, 2005, 01:30 AM
It is easier to train someone from scrath then to try and retrain someone

tater_salad
October 13, 2005, 01:55 AM
There have been many good posts on this thread already, the way I have understood it, the military uses the 5.56 for several reasons; 1 cost, 2 ease to train new recruits, 3 the typical infantryman already carries 60-70 lbs on his back depending on gear load. A larger round (7.62 for example) would add more weight to this load when you already have to consider long missions/patrols, heat and water, etc. The 5.56 round is really not all that bad. It is acurate to long range (I've personally witnessed a Marine shoot and knock down an Iraqi at about 800m with the ACOG on a basic M16-A4). And for the type of war we're fighting right now (non-formal military/insurgency) we do not have to worry about penetration issues, as most of the insurgents wear only a thin man dress, and only the crooked MPs or INGs that sold or kept their body armor have that. Factor in that most of the combat in this theatre is done at short range (<300 m because when the insurgents DO actually engage our troops with small arms fire, their rifles and light machine guns only have an effective range at a point target to about 300-500m - with a lot of combat being confined to city streets and buildings) and the 5.56 caliber becomes even more effective, without as much overpenetration as you would find in a larger round. Now figure in that for most missions and just about any post, you will also have machine gun support which will include M240-G gun teams (7.62 medium machine gun). While it would not be prudent to outfit every last rifleman with a 7.62 caliber rifle, there is still plenty of high-powered support where needed. Hope this helps.

Red Dragon
October 13, 2005, 02:12 AM
people who can't handle the recoil of an M-16 with its whole buffer assembly shouldn't be picking up a weapon in the first place. Though I do think they should have let us shoot a lot more often. After basic training and military police school, the only shooting we did (on duty that is :D ) was the qualification refreshers and the occasional FTXs where we were firing blanks.

pete f
October 13, 2005, 02:39 AM
I have personally witnessed a 12 year old 69 pound boy shoot a ruger no. 1 in 3006 with no problems. My then 12 year old daughter third pistol to shoot was a 45 acp in a paraord p13. she loved it.

ANYONE who feels a 223 in a full size rifle kicks has not spent much time with rifles.

that said, 22 lr and or airgun practice while maybe not perfect for miliary training does have its place in todays world, just as paint ball does.

With a truely good 22 with a good trigger, much can be learned about breath control, hold, triger squeeze. etc. and it can be done in very confined surroundings. I used to shoot a good deal in my basement with just some bundled phonebooks as backstop. a ten meter lane was very helpful.

I was speaking with local cop who had done both the laser and the paintball training in house clearing excercises and felt that paint ball provided a better trainer. The paintballs hurt, and you practiced much more realistically knowing if you "eff-ed" up it was going to sting.

Most recoil flinches i have seen are developed by sound and flash than by phsycal impact. good ear protection and good eye coverage really cut down on the flinching.

Sleeping Dog
October 13, 2005, 06:54 AM
Unless, of course, we want to win our wars.
Vern, that brings up a good point. It seems we go into war lately for a lot of different reasons, but "winning" doesn't seem to be a goal.

Korea, VietNam, and the series of "vague wars" (war on poverty, war on drugs, war on terror), all of them "no win" wars. Nothing to do with individual marksmanship or military tactics. With a few exceptions, our military won every encounter. We seem to lose them for other reasons, the media, the educators, the politicians. We send in the troops, break things, then decide to make nice.

It seems obvious to say that Yes, we want to win our wars. But it doesn't really seem that way.

Heck, some days it seems like we oughta take up Saddam Hussein on his offer to negotiate. There's one guy who could hold that country together.

Regards.

Oldtimer
October 13, 2005, 08:42 AM
The rangemaster that I had in boot camp (1966) said that approximately 1/3 of all the troops had previously fired any sort of weapon. That seemed strange to me, but I found out that the number was close to that!

I also noted that the guys who bragged about their civilian shooting skills were either reluctant to go along with the training or had trouble adapting to the military style of shooting. Several of the previously non-shooters turned out to be excellent shooters through the military training, and it didn't take any extra time at the range for them.

On my first day in South Vietnam, rifles were in short order, and I was initialy issued an M-2 carbine. That was hilarious, for I was 6'5" tall and weighed 220 pounds....for several South Viet soldiers, who were about 5'0" tall and 100 pounds were armed with M-1 Garands that were almost as tall as they were!

I was never a military shooting instructor, but one of them pointed out a few things of interest. The training we were going through was set up to do several things: First, to "break" the individual, so that a re-building process could be done. Second was to instill "teamwork" in the individuals. Third, and this really hit home, was to build up self confidence. Looking back on those days, unless someone REALLY "fouled up" bad at the range, they were usually treated fairly. As the range scores got better, it became obvious that most of the guys were feeling more confident with their newly acquired skills.

ME? I kept my mouth shut, went along with the program, and actually enjoyed the training and shooting at the range. I never told anyone that I had been shooting since age 6, and had dropped numerous deer between ages 8 and 17. What the heck, I had never fired a full- or even a semi- automatic rifle before....just rim- and center-fire bolt-action rifles.

entropy
October 13, 2005, 04:12 PM
+1 re my own Basic Training experience....when asked if I'd ever shot before I replied "a bit..". ;) I did have some semi and FA experience,though. :evil:

PeteRR
October 13, 2005, 10:13 PM
I took a West Point Senior who was going into the MPs out pistol shooting. He told me he doesn't get to shoot at school. Seemed crazy to me. He especially wanted to shoot a 1911. I was glad to oblige. He should be with his platoon in the 101st by now.

Stevie-Ray
October 13, 2005, 10:25 PM
In fact, the more I think about it, the less sense that concept makes; SEALs don't have any special SEAL skills before training; the military teaches them stuff!
We took a prospective SEAL shooting with us to familiarize him with all sorts of guns. He had virtually NO experience with guns whatsoever. What he had was a third degree black in Aikido, and he spoke 3 languages. The SEALs wanted him badly. He went from no service directly into SEAL training.

C-grunt
October 14, 2005, 01:20 AM
In my platoon we have only about 6-7 ( out of 27 ) who did any real shooting before they joined the Army. I was amazed when I came in because I thought the infantry would be full of gun nuts, but Im definitly a minority here.

The problem I have noticed with marksmanship is not the training but the budget. In basic almost everyone shot pretty good, but when I got to my unit I noticed that many were horrible shots. I dont know about light but in the mechanized infantry most of our money goes to the Bradleys. Transmissions, Ive been told, cost around 100K alone. Also 25mm ammo costs a lot more than 5.56. Ive done more training in Iraq ( shooting wise ) than I ever did at Ft Benning or in basic.

The recoil issue must be with females or support personel. I have NEVER met an infantryman who thought the M16 kicks to much. The only time I have heard recoil complaints was with the shotguns- light Moss 500 with magnum buckshot- and the .50s.

Dragun
October 14, 2005, 03:50 AM
bring on the .223 flame: can you say poodle shooter?

scout26
October 14, 2005, 10:52 AM
I learned to shoot left handed in basic.

In addition to following the advice of my father and brothers (Don't be first, Don't be last, and DO NOT volunteer for anything!!!) My borhter who had been a Marine told me, "shoot left handed". I went :confused: , he said, you have developed bad habits shooting. The Drill Sergeants will break you of those bad habits and make it extremely painful. but if you "start from scratch" by shooting left handed, it won't be as painful. You'll also learn soemthing new. "Basic can get mightly repetitive and boring, this will give you something to work on."

I shot 38 out 40, and since I had to listen and learn how to shoot "The Army Way", I now shoot better and can shoot ambidextrous. :cool:

Vern Humphrey
October 14, 2005, 12:58 PM
I have NEVER met an infantryman who thought the M16 kicks to much.

If you ever do, check for lace on the hem of his battledress.:p

Maybe we ought to start out with a session with the '03 Springfield, and then go to the M16.

I have a friend who was a captain, and got out and went to work for me. I took him to a high power match and, since he didn't have a suitable rifle of his own, I told him to go to the club armorer and draw an M1.

He came back holding it, with his eyes round as saucers -- the only rifle he'd ever fired was an M16. I couldn't resist telling him, "In my day, we had real rifles. And real men to shoot them.":neener:

wrangler5
October 14, 2005, 03:26 PM
I've read that the 5.56 was developed after evaluation of actual combat in WWII and Korea revealed that MOST infantry combat occurred at 300 yards or less. I believe the 30-06 (and its nephew, 308) were spec'd for 600 or 800 yard effectiveness, as were the rifles designed for them. A smaller, 300-yard-effective round allowed rifles to be smaller and lighter, and more ammo to be carried for the same weight. (I don't recall that lightening the soldier's ammo load was a factor - lighter rifle, yes, but more ammo for the same weight is what I recall, but of course I'm older now. . . .)

I've also read that the switch to 9mm from 45 was due in part to the difficulty of training soldiers to shoot the 45 well, but that the (much) larger push was ammo standardization with NATO and the logistical benefits that would follow if a battle in Europe with the Russians had ever actually developed. And on the theory that it's better to hit with (many) pebbles than to miss with (fewer) rocks, we settled on the Beretta.

Old Dog
October 14, 2005, 04:47 PM
I'm sort of wondering why all this seems to be perceived as an issue at all. I can't speak for the Army, but I can vouch from experience that those in the Navy and Marine Corps who will end up doing shooting for real, tend to get some pretty good practice in beforehand ... While it's most definitely the case that during basic training no one gets to shoot enough, the fact that the military has a lot of folks with no previous firearms experience before coming on active duty is a total non-issue.

As far as positing that the military went to the 5.56mm because it was easier to teach people to shoot with ... hogwash.

He went from no service directly into SEAL training. Well, that's not quite how it works.

I still got to use the M-14 ... although my last deployment, my unit got to take its new M-4s (ugh ...)

Moondoggie
October 14, 2005, 06:40 PM
As a DI in the Marines (74-76) I went to the range with recruits 8 times.

The concept that it is easier to teach marksmanship to someone who has never shot is generally true. They don't think they know everything and have nothing to prove. The DI's build up the range as the monster under the bed to the recruits...failure to qualify is the ultimate disgrace. I don't care who you were as a civilian, virtually no one 18 YOA has any experience on a 500m KD range using iron sights with 250+ shooters in 5> relays. It's a pretty big show, and the individual novice shooters have to be managed carefully. Safety is paramount.

We had some "creative" methods to cure problems with individuals from time to time. Usually had to distract the Officer's attention elsewhere while this was being implemented. A common "cure" for flinching was to apply a loading board (small length of 2x4 with holes drilled in it to hold rounds for slow fire) to the back of the grape just as the shooter flinched. They learned soon enough that the rifle would not hurt them, but the coach would. Folks who jerked the trigger habitually normally had their finger tip "lanced" repeatedly with a sewing needle to reduce the desire to apply excessive pressure on the trigger. We tried more traditional coaching methods and other types of remedial training first, of course, but we almost always got the job done.

Those who didn't qualify during the normal 2 week range cycle spent an additional week of remedial marksmanship training while the rest of their platoon was on mess/maint duty.

It's important to note that annual requalification scores are factored into "composite scores" that determine who gets promoted for E-5 < in the Marine Corps. The Marines don't take advancement tests like the Navy & AF.

I've qualifed with M-1's, M-14's and M-16's....if you can't master basic marksmanship with an M-16 you're pretty hopeless, it's by far the easiest to shoot.

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