Shoot to wound, military mentality


Brian Williams
June 26, 2003, 12:31 PM
When did the "Shoot the Enemy to wound then it takes two more personel to care for him" philosophy come in to strategy of the Military.

Some guy on posted that the 45acp was created to wound and stop the charging Moros therefore requiring the Moros need to have people to care for the wounded. I know that the 45 acp was created to mimic the .45 LONG Colt blackpowder load, which was a proven Man killer and it worked on the Moros and very probablywould work on Mike Irwins Hottentots but he more than likely used his S&W Mod 19,..... Oh I just looked it up it was a "Lahti 20mm pocket anti-tank pistol" and some 5" guns.

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June 26, 2003, 12:44 PM
When did the "Shoot the Enemy to wound then it takes two more personel to care for him" philosophy come in to strategy of the Military.
I don't know that it ever did. I think it is more along the lines of a military urban legend. Like the "It's against the Geneva Convention rules to shoot at personnel with a .50 call. You can only shoot at equipment. There for you must shoot at a soldier's web gear, not at him" I was in the Army for 10 yrs and spent 4 of them as an M16 instructor for our unit. I can assure you that I was never taught, or tauhgt any of my students to shoot to wound. :D

4v50 Gary
June 26, 2003, 12:56 PM
I've read about shooting to wound as far back as the American Revolution. Don't recall reading about it in the French-Indian War though (I may have, but can't cite examples).

Another reason was that soldiers tended to shoot high and thus were told to "aim low" and shoot for the legs. Grossman would argue that soldiers shot high because they really didn't want to (or were conditioned to) kill another human being.

Mike Irwin
June 26, 2003, 01:07 PM
The guy on Greybeard is incorrect.

The idea with the Moros was to stop them as quickly as possible given the fact that the .38 Long Colt round was absolutely miserable at doing that.

As for the "takes more to care for the wounded...," who knows when that really kicked in as a viable military theory.

I sincerely doubt, however, that it has been an overriding consideration when forces pick their service arms.

If it truly was, then the Italians and Japanese would have stuck with their 6.5mm Carcano and Arisaka rounds, respectively, both of which were very good at causing wounds, but not so good at either stopping people or causing fatal wounds.

As for my 20mm Lahti pocket pistol...

Wow. I haven't pulled it out of the nightstand in a long time. :)

June 26, 2003, 01:20 PM
I heard this first hand from several knowledgeable sources who were front line infantry in WWII. Col. Rex Applegate also mentioned the doctrine in his "Close Combat Techniques." If you think about it, the soldiers do not make the policy, the bean counters do. Ball ammo tends to support this theory. Why do we want to "kill the enemy" any more gently? Any sense in this?

Applegate mentioned the moral impact of maimed back in the hospitals on the civilian population. Yep; War is hell.

Mike: I understand the Moros wanted to die with their genitals tied up like that. :uhoh: In a hurry to get to their 72 virgins.

George Hill
June 26, 2003, 01:25 PM
I think it's because of the M-16. 5.56MM more often then not just wounds. So they called it a "Feature" instead of an "Issue".
Kinda like Pee Wee Herman, when he fell off the bike. "I meant to do that."

June 26, 2003, 01:28 PM
As an Artillery forward observer, we trained to neutralize enemy forces rather than destroy them.

First, let me explain something. Destroy means 30% of the enemy is out of action, making the unit combat ineffective. Neutralize means 10% is out of action. The third option is 'suppression', which simply means getting the enemy to stop what he's doing, be it making him seek cover or making him decide to take another route of advance.

The theoretical reasoning for preferring neutralization rather than destruction is two fold.

One reason is because of the lower expenditure of ammo. Our old TACSOP (TACtical Standard Operating Procedure) called for 72 rounds of 105mm HE to destroy a T-72 tank. If however, you could take a few out of the fight because you killed the tank commander, the tracks, sighting devices, etc., you achieve good results with less ammo fired.

The second reason is related to the question of the thread. Let's say you have a 10 man infantry squad moving toward your position. If you kill or wound 1 man, then 1 or 2 of his buddies will most likely stop to give him aid. That puts the squad effectively out of action. If you kill or wound 3 of them, then it takes pretty much the whole squad to care for the wounded, but you've shot off a lot more ammo.

So, basically, in the artillery world, 'shooting to wound' has a definite appeal. Ammo is rarely unlimited, and resupply isn't always timely. Therefore, using less ammo to achieve suitable results is a good thing.


Ol' Badger
June 26, 2003, 01:57 PM

What if this is a real knock down drag out street to street fight. Name some place on the Eastern front of WWII. I read somewhere that the Russkies were told not to stop for the wounded! To keep advancing at all costs! I also read that VC didn't bother with the wounded until after the action was done with. If thats so, then the theory of "Shoot to Wound" is moot.

Sean Smith
June 26, 2003, 02:22 PM
The "shoot to wound" thing is pure mythology in an actual combat environment. Combat units seek to destroy everything in their path that is a threat, period, end of discussion. At the level of guy with rifles, you shoot threats till they go away (death, wounding, capture, retreat). Tell an infantryman or tanker about the "shoot to wound" theoretical B.S. you read on an internet forum and they will, on average, assume you are a moron.

The guy on who posted that nonsense about the .45 and the Moros needs to trade in his imbecillic theories for a couple of spare brain cells.

4v50 Gary
June 26, 2003, 02:25 PM
Moros went to battle intending to die and take as many of their opponents with them. The concept of "medic" was foreign to them. That's why they bound up their bodies at several places - so they wouldn't bleed out and could stay in the fight longer.

June 26, 2003, 02:34 PM
I was told by a Drill Sergeant that it was illegal to shoot at an enemy soldier with a 50 cal. if you had a lesser weapon to engage him with instead.
We were taught the motto "one shot, one kill". More often than not, the combination of alot of new shooters and a bunch of M-16's that had survived about 3,000 training cycles amounted to "three shots, one kill".
We weren't really taught to wound, but we were told that the 5.56 was sort of designed to wound instead of kill. Not really wound, but to take the enemy out of action.
I am quite certain that a 5.56 in the center of your chest would kill you, but your intention is not to kill per se, it is to stop the enemy.

Jay Bakerr
June 26, 2003, 02:46 PM
Next thing you know, some adherent of the "We'll just shoot to wound" urban legend, will post that soldiers (and cops) are taught to not only "shoot to wound," but to just "shoot the guns out of their hands".... as we see in movies and teeeeveeee.

So, let's see now. Soldiers (and cops) are taught to NOT shoot at the largest target --center of mass -- but to shoot at the enemy's rifles, and machine guns... or forearms... or index fingers... or toes.



June 26, 2003, 02:48 PM
Understand, this idea is not at the individual level. This is DOCTRINE from the muckety mucks in the Pentagon who never get within 3,000 miles of the front lines.

June 26, 2003, 02:53 PM
Don't know about shoot to wound and if this ever was a policy. Everytime I have spoken to a military person they were taught to shoot for center of mass. Hard enough to hit when the adreneline is pumping.

As far as the .45 goes, it's purpose was to drop the Moros in their tracks. With the smaller cal guns, they would get shot and keep on coming and could kill you even though they may be mortally wounded themselves. I heard they used to wrap themselves up in cloth and get all doped up and make a charge. The cloth kept body from flying apart and the dope, well sounds good to me. Made it so those .38's didn't hurt as much.

June 26, 2003, 03:08 PM
Mythe: However, if you
Shoot to kill ... then it takes 6 to bury them!

June 26, 2003, 03:11 PM
Maybe we are talking about two different things; there is probably no "SHOOT TO WOUND" concept, but there is a "limit effectiveness of weapons to produce wounds rather than outright kills" doctrine. Ball ammo certainly does not perform as well as softpoint except on headshots, for example. I could also argue the 1/7 twist in the M16 and further the adopting of the short bbled and fairly ineffective M4 are furthering this aim.

The frontline soldier is obviously just trying to stay alive and will kill to do so but the "military scientists" want to produce wounded to clog up the enemy logistics.

4v50 Gary
June 26, 2003, 03:58 PM
Speaking of wounding, some soldiers rejoice at the idea of helping an injured comrade to the rear. While personal loyalty plays a large part, sometimes it can be suspect.

So thought Capt. Doughtery of the 57th Mass (Civil War) at the Battle of Cold Harbor (June 1-5, but this took place on June 3, 1864). One soldier was injured and another began assisting him to the rear. Yet another soldier tried to "assist" but he was stopped by Capt. D. Capt. D. who marched the hapless soldier beyond the trench line where he proceeded to drill the soldier in full view of the Confederates whose lines were 800 yards away. The Confederates blasted away at the Capt. and the soldier and clipped the capt.'s clothing three times. When the Capt. was satisfied, he marched the soldier back to their lines and the safety of cover.

June 26, 2003, 04:22 PM
Up until World War II, a soldier was more likely to die of disease than combat wounds. I doubt that a policy of shooting to wound sustained these statistics.


June 26, 2003, 04:52 PM
There is no "shoot to wound" military policy that I ever heard of. In a fire fight you try to kill. There is a specific tactic of employing small land mines that generally cause severe wounds that require forces to be allocated.


June 26, 2003, 05:35 PM
It sounds like an unofficial rationalization for something that already happened. For instance:

Q: Why can't we use hollowpoints?
A: Well, it's prohibited as being excessively inhumane.
Q: But shooting someone isn't exactly humane.
A: Yeah, but a wounded guy takes x number of guys to tend him.

Mark Tyson
June 26, 2003, 07:04 PM
I think hollowpoints are not prohibited, but softpoints are.

June 26, 2003, 10:38 PM
The specific circumstances that make HP bullets legal are for snipers. They use BTHP match bullets. The hollow point puts more weight to the rear, which causes the bullet to perform better at longer ranges.
These are legal because the HP isn't for wounding purposes. That is the story I got out of it.

I will concede that they most likely weren't too worried about wounding each other during WWII. I will tell you that when I shoot anything, I aim to kill it. I have hunted since I was a kid. The thought of spilling some blood doesn't bother me enough to let someone kill me and mine. I did shoot for center mass, as I was trained to do. I did this on the range, and hopefully would have done this had I ever found myself getting shot at.
Let me clarify. You shoot for the center mass of the target. It is the biggest area, and you are trying to hit what you are shooting at. You don't shoot at the feet, hands, ears, etc. You are trying to hit the guy. An ear is a small target.
The difference is, you are using a .223. It loses some smack after that little bullet slows down, and the bullet is designed to just punch through anyway. It will punch a smaller hole than an 8mm Mauser would, and most likely damage less surrounding tissue.
A wound that would soon bleed you out with an 8mm MAY be repairable if the hole is 5.56mm instead.
That is where the wounding concept comes from. There are guys here who claim that the wounding thing is nothing but internet BS. That is incorrect. I heard this from drill sergeants with my own ears. If I was going to lie to you guys, I would come up with a better lie than that.

In combat, do you care about only wounding the guy?
But that is still what I was told. If you feel that is incorrect, then you should contact the higher ups at Fort Leonard Wood MO, and tell them that they are wrong.
As I said, it is what I was told.
When you are an E-1 and one of your drill sergeants tells you something, you agree. Even if they are wrong, they are right.

June 27, 2003, 09:03 AM
If I was going to lie to you guys, I would come up with a better lie than that. Same here.

While we all agree that in a firefight you are trying to put all the opposition down while avoiding perforation, the "planners" are rationalizing the operations into doctrine. Should rename Defense Dept the War Dept, raze the Pentagon and fire all the planners, convert the chairborne soldiers to 11B or out, imho.

EDIT: I just re-read the title and submit that "military mentality" is a contradiction in terms, like country music or govt worker. What a hoot! :D

June 27, 2003, 09:36 AM
The shoot to wound is a philosophy designed to pander to the media. Back in the day when I worked physical security assignments, we would have high level inspections to evaluate our policies, readiness and individual knowledge.
Part of the pre-inspection prepping we recieved from the leadership was that the inspectors were going to ask us questions individually if we were being observed. One question would almost always be what we would do in the event lethal force had to be used. Our pat answer was to tell them "I will shoot to wound", and local SOP stated those very words.
A lieutenant who gave us a pre-inspection briefing cleared it up by saying the answer is one generated to rob the media of anything controversial and to give the inspector the impression we weren't a bunch of nuts out to kill someone. Even if we were hosing down a terrorist in the chest with an M-60 MG we were still shooting to the chest.:D
You have to remember that all of the threats are not necessarily someone breaking in and stealing an item vital to national security. Some of the threats to security are nothing more than malcontent individuals without jobs, lives, or constructive things to do attempting to trespass on Uncle's property because they disagree with Uncle on particular items that are kept around in the interest of national security. Therefore in most cases lethal force would probably not be justified.
On the battlefield "shoot to wound" does not exist. On Uncle's property it's a buzz phrase designed to dampen controversy. Whether on Uncle's property or the battlefield any shooting that needs to be done is always center of mass. It's not taught any other way.

Mike Irwin
June 27, 2003, 11:14 AM
"The specific circumstances that make HP bullets legal are for snipers. They use BTHP match bullets."


The "hollowpoint" bullets used in sniper-style rounds don't expand, so they're not true HPs, or at least what we'd think of as hollow points.

The reason for the hollow at the nose is that the jacket is drawn from the rear of the case to the nose, which is the opposite of normal FMJ military ammo, which has an area of exposed lead at the base.

The ultimate reason for this bullet construction is that a perfect base is far more important to the bullet's accuracy than the nose is. You can damage the bullet's nose fairly badly and still get good accuracy, but if you damage the base, things start to go south very quickly.

Mike Irwin
June 27, 2003, 11:31 AM
"Geneva Convention"

You sure the shotgun isn't covered by the Hague Accords?

Geneva Convention mainly talks about the treatment of enemy prisoners.

June 27, 2003, 01:59 PM
I've heard, from someone who looked like he had been in a war, that the M16 was designed to be so accurate so you could shoot the enemies testicles off thereby demorilizing a whole company and effecitively ending the engagement. This apparently did not work in action as the average infantryman couldn't make the shot without squirming and disrupting his aim.

Or at least that's what i heard.

Im thinking of making up my own line of targets.

Ol' Badger
June 27, 2003, 02:49 PM
shoot the enemies testicles off

Where did you here that????

June 27, 2003, 05:01 PM
Where did you here that????

Ooops forgot the smilie :D

June 27, 2003, 05:20 PM
I have never heard that the military teaches you to shoot to wound but an enemy who is wounded and out of combat(a casualty) requires someone to take him off the field, treat him and so on. A dead enemy could of course require people to bury him but more dead people go unburied than wounded go untreated. Does a soldier or even a commander really care about wounding the enemy? No. If you do, good. If you kill him he is out of the battle anyways, so that's good.

June 27, 2003, 09:11 PM
I am no military expert, but I was in the military. I can assure you that we were never told anything about shooting to wound. On the rifle range we fired at pop up silhouette targets and we never once went forward to see exactly where we hit them. They either went down or they didn't. Although we were instructed to shoot COM.
Just to show you how ridiculous this whole thing is, think about this. In combat, the rounds are flying, you are scared to death. You are shooting at moving shapes, you are moving, you are ducking. And you think that someone is going to not just shoot back, but pick specific shots intended to only wound the enemy ? Please.

Why not start an offshoot of IPSC where you are penalized for hitting the A-Zone. Maybe you can adjust your sights so that you aim COM but hit way low or something.

June 27, 2003, 09:43 PM
What a load of crap. A wounded soldier can still return fire and KILL you. You dont shoot to wound, and I have never heard an NCO in the Marine Corps or the Army say anything of the sort. Does this ring a bell to anyone....

"To locate, close with and destroy the enemy....."

If wounding was the intent why doesn't this say "and wound the enemy"?

The 5.56 in it's original weight and twist was a killer. Dont blame a prefectly good weapon that was designed to kill for a bunch of REMF decissions to jack around with bullet weight and twist rates.

And THAT problem is being solved as we speak, by hook or by crook. The 106gr rounds we just got to take with us on our next little adventure were not meant to wound. These are designed to kill, plain and simple.

June 27, 2003, 10:02 PM
Interesting topic guys, as a youngster I first heard this when it was attributed to the M-16 being able to hit a target in the forearm and exit the torso due to "tumbling." I think those statements have been pretty well been discredited.

Next I heard it attributed to our enemies on how to deal with us - tie up our resources extracting the wounded and then demoralizing the home front.

In my opinion, this theory "may" have some merit when regular armies engage in a battle of attrition - but I can't imagine a Taliban, Al Queda, Fedayeen or Hamas death squad being too concerned over the health and recovery of their wounded comrads - better to leave the casualties to be picked up by the Americans, (who will probably try to save his life in spite of his politico-religious intentions.)

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