Muzzle discipline in BAND OF BROTHERS


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Quoheleth
September 7, 2009, 12:07 PM
Band of Brothers has been airing on Spike TV the past few nights and I've been able to watch it (the wife is out of town for the weekend, giving me sole TV rights).

Now, I realize that there are lots of things going on: it portrays a war zone, combat situations, some things were horribly chaotic (last night's episode, for example, was Bastogne) and - FOREMOST - this is TV. But, I've seen several scenes - and not all in the middle of hot & heavy combat - where guys squat down to confab for a minute and a gun muzzle is pointed right at or very near another soldier, or a gun barrel is used to gesture a direction and it sweeps past another soldier, et. al.. I realize in combat, when lead is flying, muzzle discipline probably takes a back burner. I am willing to give a soldier a pass if he's diving for cover to save his arse. But even in scenes of soldiers on foot patrol, weapons frequently sweep others.

Was muzzle discipline taught, emphasized and enforced in WWII combat areas? Or, is this the typical hollywood goof.

Any WWII or Korea vets who can speak to the question? (I include Korea, b/c much of our Korea tactics were right out of WWII).

Q

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Winston_Smith
September 7, 2009, 12:12 PM
Watching it right now Quoheleth and noticed the same thing. I just assumed it was a risk associated with war. Think about guns mounted on vehicles, wouldn't it be very difficult control the muzzle? I am interested to see what vets have to say about this.

I hope you decided to order your Garand from CMP. If not, watching this will make you send it in. :).

Justo
September 7, 2009, 12:20 PM
I was noticing that most of the spilders had there fingers in the trigger guards almost the whole time. Even when they were in camp

EHL
September 7, 2009, 12:51 PM
Was muzzle discipline taught, emphasized and enforced in WWII combat areas? Or, is this the typical hollywood goof.

This is a very good and interesting question. I'll be watching this thread to see what comes of it.

DougDubya
September 7, 2009, 12:51 PM
Meanwhile, at least in Kelly's Heroes, Eastwood had his trigger finger on the frame of his Thompson, straight trigger discipline.

Saw it again last night, and Clint was the only guy who didn't walk around with his finger on the trigger.

Telly Savalas' muzzle discipline was the worst!

Quoheleth
September 7, 2009, 01:04 PM
Glad I've finally come up with a question that is entertaining & interesting to others.

I was noticing that most of the spilders had there fingers in the trigger guards almost the whole time. Even when they were in camp

Yes, this is true. But on this board and others, people have a cow, a calf, a whole herd of pigs, and two chickens if someone even MENTIONS that they MIGHT HAVE accidentally allowed the muzzle of their weapon - finger on the trigger guard, frame, or "other" - to track past their own body parts or another person. If we have a coniption fit over such a thing if someone describes it happening at the range, was it a concern then?

I hope you decided to order your Garand from CMP. If not, watching this will make you send it in. :)

Yep. Mailed it in about 2 weeks ago and got the email confirmation that it was received last Monday. Now comes the worst part: 173 days to go and counting (Service Grade wait time is at 180 days). The latest TSRA newsletter seems to indicate that CMP is getting caught up, so I hope it comes out to be less than 6 months...

If BOB leaves you hankering for the "Ping" of your own Garand, check out this game: http://armorgames.com/play/3582/palisade-guardian. You even get the ping. IMHO, go Tommy Gun, Carbine, and then save up for the Garand, and then the Bazooka. Woo-hoo!!!

Q

ezypikns
September 7, 2009, 01:25 PM
I wondered if I was the only one who noticed that.

I'm thinking that in firefights it might have been a liitle different, but this is when the GI's were moving or standing around.

Anyone with combat experience care to comment?

SharpsDressedMan
September 7, 2009, 02:09 PM
Ane the answer is: Muzzle discipline wasn't a catch word in 1942-1945. We were at war, millions being drafted/enlisting, guys being trrained in a matter of weeks. Accidents happened (including guys shooting each other in training), and they moved on to the next important thing to do. My dad was a WWII vet, Borneo, Phillipines, Occupational Japan, and he never mentioned any training devoted to such safe handling. They were more focused on marksmanship and tactics. Guns were loaded, and common sense (not all that common now), seemed to be the call of the day. Obsession with gun safety and muzzle discipline is more of a recent (last 20-30 years with modern techniques of firearms, civil liability, lawsuits, and professional awareness basically MANDATING such things for accident prevention, etc.

desidog
September 7, 2009, 03:04 PM
Saw the same thing here...Great (&safe) minds think alike!

My grandfather taught me gun safety when i was little, and he learned in the Army before hitting a number of well-known beaches in the Pacific. He was very clear, and said it was very clear when they taught him...so i imagine its a bunch of liberal Hollywood actors who don't know better.

I'd love to hear from someone who went through BT in WW2...

Hummer1
September 7, 2009, 03:12 PM
Safety was a big issue in the sixtys when I was in the Army,they also told us that recruts were cheep they could call the draft board and get one free but if you lost your rifle it cost $78.

rcmodel
September 7, 2009, 03:14 PM
Obsession with gun safety and muzzle discipline is more of a recent (last 20-30 years with modern techniques of firearms,
I agree with that!
And Glocks had a lot to do with keeping your finger outside the trigger guard.

It also might be noted that the M-1 Garand safety is inside the trigger guard.

That is where I would keep my finger in combat too.
You have to have your finger in the trigger guard to take the safety off in a hurry.

rc

rocky branch
September 7, 2009, 03:17 PM
I think they are a bit lax in the movies to say the least.
Even in absence of formal training, common sense and knowledge of more experienced people will prevail.
Actual dummies get corrected pretty quick.
Guys who do that for a living catch on pretty quick.

What gets me in movies is guys walkng patrols strolling along scratching their asses and hollering at each other. Noise discipline is fairly important.

I spent 18 months as an advisor to CIDG in SVN.
My camp had a combination of Viets, Cambodians and Montagnards.
It was a remote area with relatively primitive practices.
A combat operation usually consisted of two Americaans and 10-20 Indig.

You had to watch out-I don't recall anybody getting shot, but it seemed like their first reaction to contact was closing their eyes and ripping off a magazine.

45Badger
September 7, 2009, 03:29 PM
..so i imagine its a bunch of liberal Hollywood actors who don't know better.

Was muzzle discipline taught, emphasized and enforced in WWII combat areas? Or, is this the typical hollywood goof.

I would bet they got it pretty right. Basic training is one thing, being in a combat zone, on patrol, and under fire is quite another. Add hungry, cold, and scared s$$$less and the perspective changes even more. Think drivers education vs. downtown Chicago or the Jersey Turnpike. ALL of the basic safety rules are still true, but their application is seriously inconsistent. And (miraculously) 50 people don't get killed in car crashes every day on either of those roads.

One of the nice things about the "four rules" is that they are redundant and provide a bit of "layered" security. If you break one (or two or three), you can still avoid killing somebody by accident. We have the luxury of being anal because we are shooting at paper and the worst thing that could happen is that you shoot somebody (or yourself) at the range. Think of it this way-

sweeping- bad
sweeping with known loaded weapon- very bad
sweeping with known loaded weapon, finger on trigger- super bad bad

So far, no damage but soiled undies

sweeping with known loaded weapon, finger on trigger, pulling trigger- That is the baddest and can put holes in people.

I suspect that getting shot at by enemy soldiers is worse (and more probable), and that my safety priorities and their practical application might change a wee bit. And yes, let's not forget that there are enough friendly fire incidents in combat to make us all think twice;).

jakemccoy
September 7, 2009, 03:41 PM
Here's a thought. A director may take several shots of a particular scene. Some shots are kept. Some shots are scarpped. Good acting prevails over adherence to proper trigger finger and muzzle control. It's unlikely that both the director and all the actors will have trigger finger and muzzle control down to muscle memory. Accordingly, even if the actors are told to keep the finger off the trigger and to have muzzle control, much of the best acting captured on film will inevitably have multiple violations of the Four Safety Rules.

goofy grape
September 7, 2009, 03:52 PM
I know that Clint was in the Army during Korea, so maybe that's why he had his finger outside the trigger guard. I was watching BOB on Spike the first night it was on. I have the series on VHS but my sister in law borrowed it and hasn't returned it yet. After I watched the whole thing in one sitting after buying it, I had to get a Garand. I found one (not on CMP, they were sold out at the time). It's 59 years old and still shoots reliably and accurately. I love it so much, I nicknamed it "baby."

Okay, maybe I have issues.

Mandolin
September 7, 2009, 04:48 PM
If the saftey is in the trigger guard, then there is not much point in haveing your finger off the trigger.

You had to watch out-I don't recall anybody getting shot, but it seemed like their first reaction to contact was closing their eyes and ripping off a magazine

No wonder it took thousands of rounds to get a kill in Vietnam! On the other hand, marksmanshipp is near-useless in a jungle where you can't see 10 feet. blasting off a magazine is a fairly good respone to ambush, but only if you keep your eyes open. And what is it with peolpe carrying M60s over their shoulders in vietnam war movies? theey can't fire it that way.

russ69
September 7, 2009, 04:59 PM
From what I see on the news from Iraq, stuff like that is a constant thing. I see guys kneeing and the guys behind shooting just over the top of the other guys helmet. War is dangerous and people get shot by their own guys. It's messy.

Thanks, Russ

Tim the student
September 7, 2009, 04:59 PM
I was always taught that muzzle discipline is paramount. If you flagged someone, you got pretty tired (in training at least).

In combat, muzzle discipline was still important. Even when we left our patrol base, our gunners on the towers lifted their muzzles to not flag us.

I can't recall flagging anyone, being flagged, or seeing it happen.

rondog
September 7, 2009, 05:39 PM
I've often wondered how often Garands in WWII were carried with the safety on?

SharpsDressedMan
September 7, 2009, 07:02 PM
I guess the question still remains: If you are trying to be period correct, would your soldiers from WWII be focussed on "muzzle discipline" and "trigger safety" (having not had tons of such conditioning during training), or would the film be more accurate as we see it (reckless, uninformed gun handling)? "Band of Brothers" can be a contemporary training film, where all new gun handling procedures are displayed, or historically correct. You can't have both. I have seen a WWII movie where no one is smoking (polictically correct), and it just wasn't RIGHT!

Quoheleth
September 7, 2009, 07:14 PM
reckless, uninformed gun handling

Whoa...I didn't say that. I don't see "reckless" - what I see is comfortable and casual. They are in a profession of arms - albeit, unwillingly - and, between training and combat they are comfortable.

Maybe that's the ticket, huh? I recall one scene last night with a new LT who's so by-the-book that he could stitch barbed wire with his rear end. Contrast that with some of the seargants who were in Anzio - they were by-the-book when needed, but as a rule, not so uptight about it.

I think much of this is our perception - as someone mentioned about cigs: it was how it was; today, it's verboten.

Anyhow, keep the conversation going!

Q

MTO
September 7, 2009, 07:26 PM
In the peacetime US Army of the latter half of the 80s, I remember the muzzle and trigger discipline was lax except on live ranges. And on live ranges, the extent of our safety instructions were, "keep it pointed up and downrange."

In fact, I recall that the muzzle/trigger discipline was far more rigid in high school JROTC with inert drill rifles since an intentional violation was grounds for expulsion from the program.

As a guess, I would imagine that such laxness under actual battle conditions would quickly yield numerous friendly casualties due to NDs and that the powers-that-be would adjust doctrine to prevent this.

I don't recall whether it was depicted in the miniseries, but Ambrose's book recounted that one of the lieutenants was shot badly by a nervous sentry (while they were in Holland, I think), and during the Battle of the Bulge, one paratrooper ND'ed himself in the femoral artery with a captured trophy Luger. I would think that a proper mindset backed by the four rules that would make you mindful of where your muzzle is pointed would make you think twice before sticking a loaded pistol in your trousers.

MTO
September 7, 2009, 07:33 PM
Sorry to do this quick follow-up: I want to make absolutely clear that I am not being critical of the Army or the soldiers with whom I served and who came both before and after me. I know that I am most certainly not fit to shine the boots of the men of the 101st in WWII.

I think of it much as Quoheleth has illustrated with the point about cigarettes. That was then. This is now. Seat belts, bicycle helmets, and child safety seats, anyone?

ezypikns
September 7, 2009, 10:59 PM
if you served your country.



I know that I am most certainly not fit to shine the boots of the men of the 101st in WWII.

PandaBearBG
September 7, 2009, 11:16 PM
As someone from the modern era of the military looking at those boys, given how they were quickly trained and pushed to limits and expectations no one would ever think about placing on the shoulders of our troops today, into one of the greatest (and by that I mean large scale, truely world changing war, I am not a fan of our boys dying for anything) I think muzzle awareness was low on the priority list. Not saying that it is a bad practice, I swear by solid muzzle control, and that other troops didn't accidently friendly fire, its just that Easy Co. were well documented and I'm sure as historicly accurate as the series is that acting didn't obscure facts or mannerism of those older troops. Easy Co made themselves an elite and effective fighting force literally by battle, they were smart and brave and I'm sure their ultimate safety (their finger) knew when their rifle would go bang. Men like that do not make dangerous mistakes.

Of course these are the men that the troops of today strive to be like, fortunatly for the most part, it was a peace time world for troops, with the exceptions of Viet Nam and Iraq, where the flaws and inefficiencies of training could be tweaked and itemized down to every action and move. Doing push-ups in a "correct" manner, "correct" pull ups, etc.
The military is an evolving machine, it's gotta start somewhere.

Dr. Fresh
September 7, 2009, 11:28 PM
I don't recall whether it was depicted in the miniseries, but Ambrose's book recounted that one of the lieutenants was shot badly by a nervous sentry (while they were in Holland, I think), and during the Battle of the Bulge, one paratrooper ND'ed himself in the femoral artery with a captured trophy Luger. I would think that a proper mindset backed by the four rules that would make you mindful of where your muzzle is pointed would make you think twice before sticking a loaded pistol in your trousers.

Both incidents were in the miniseries.

mljdeckard
September 7, 2009, 11:30 PM
I think it illustrates how we all must enforce all of the rules, all of the time, regardless of rank. I told my seven year-old: "If you see someone breaking the rules, tell them, I don't care how old they are."

There are two ways to look at this:

There is a reason there are four rules. You have to break all four of them for something bad to happen, right?

OR

It doesn't matter how they did it in WWII, it doesn't matter how your uncle who was a marine in Vietnam did it, it doesn't matter if I was in Impact three days ago and one of the staff flagged me with an X-frame S&W. We all are responsible for enforcing all of the rules all of the time. If muzzle discipline is better now than it was in WWII, we can take credit for better education in general, better forces, better equipment, better training, and the fact that all levels of training and discipline are better now than then, or even during the first Gulf War. We are responsible for making it a better force than our fathers and grandfathers had.

When I see safety violations, it depends on how severe they were. If it was small, I bring it up in the AAR. "I saw a few soldiers sweeping with their muzzles." I also make sure I say something when I DIDN'T see any safety violations. If it's someone who significantly outranks me, I will do it in private. If it's a legitimate situation where they were just doing a lot of things at once, getting in or out of a vehicle, something like that, I pull them aside and tell them. "Man, you flagged me with your muzzle, just wanted to make sure you know." If it's someone who's just effing off, and it's not the first time I've warned them, I will let them have it in public. HARD.

Harve Curry
September 8, 2009, 03:56 AM
Awhile back I posted the question about when did trigger finger forward along the frame become a taught safety practice. The consensus was around 1980.
So far no answers from WWII or Korean veterans.

Trebor
September 8, 2009, 05:00 AM
WWII was a different time. Everything I've read indicated that they were much more lax about what we'd consider to be fundamental safety assumptions like "keep your finger out of the trigger guard" and "don't sweep with your muzzle."

Read thought GI accounts of the war and you'll run into references to accidental shootings in training, in base camp, and sometimes in combat.

Jeff Cooper was a WWII Marine vet but he didn't really codify and publicize his "Four Rules of Fireams Safety" until after the war. And his Four Rules were seen as kind of revolutionary at the time in that they explicity stated what was supposed to be "common sense" up until then.

As to the fingers outside the trigger guards, that's also a more modern thing. Heck, even U.S. cops routinely put their fingers on the trigger pretty much whenever the gun was out of the holster up until the 80's or so.

earlthegoat2
September 8, 2009, 06:01 AM
I can think of a not so clever term to describe much of the observations here.

Armchair quarterbacking.

Not only was WWII a different time but the mid 1900s were a different time where common sense ruled and lawyers were acually allowed to defend the innocent. There were not three thousand and twenty four people on hand to judge what went wrong and right and who was responsible for it all AFTER THE FACT.

If I had 20/20 into the future none of this would be a problem for the people who love to be able to see 20/20 into the past.

This is a thread that is parallel to the threads about muzzle discipline in a gun store. It is a good theory but it just is not going to happen. There is too much going to on and the practicality behind it is a waste of time.

It is not that muzzle discipline takes a back seat. There are bigger things going on than firearms safety in the middle of a war zone. This might be revolutionary to some and I will probably make a few enemies here but muzzle discipline is not the end all be all of firearms safety as a whole lot of green firearms enthusiasts just love to point out all the time such as: "This total A Hole swept me at the gun shop, man I told him..." or better yet "the muzzle was pointed up at the sky, if that gun had gone off the bullet could have come down and killed someones puppy..." Keep your finger off the trigger and your muzzle pointed away if that is the practical thing to do.

ar10
September 8, 2009, 08:03 AM
It also might be noted that the M-1 Garand safety is inside the trigger guard.

That is where I would keep my finger in combat too.
You have to have your finger in the trigger guard to take the safety off in a hurry.

Exactly. But if you are being shot at, running, on patrol, exhausted, tired, dirty, and in an all out war, muzzle safety is not the most important thing on your mind, common sense is. In boot camp, (60's era) you're taught basic safety on the range but hitting the target was the major objective.

Zach S
September 8, 2009, 10:12 AM
This is a thread that is parallel to the threads about muzzle discipline in a gun store.
I've never been under fire from an MG42 while looking at a pistol...

mljdeckard
September 8, 2009, 12:19 PM
So, earlthegoat2, you think there are times it's ok that the staff of a gun store points a gun at you? What IS the most important thing at that time? Would you care to delineate your set of asterisks for when it's ok to throw out the safety rules?

In my house, on ANY range or field of fire I am on, make no mistake. The four safety rules are absolutely the be all end all of firearms handling.

Harve Curry
September 8, 2009, 01:26 PM
Original posters questions:
Was muzzle discipline taught, emphasized and enforced in WWII combat areas? Or, is this the typical hollywood goof.

Any WWII or Korea vets who can speak to the question? (I include Korea, b/c much of our Korea tactics were right out of WWII).

I for one would love to hear from a veteran who was there, not likely as they are disappearing fast :(and probably not online.

Quoheleth
September 8, 2009, 03:03 PM
Thanks, Harve. Anyone know a WWII or Korea vet? I have two in my congregation, but one was in the Navy (USS Idaho) and the other...well, with all due respect, I'm never sure how much of his stories are pure malarky and how much are true. I don't just mean his war stories, either...

Seriously, if you ever have the chance to sit down with the old timers and listen (talk less; listen more), buy 'em lunch or breakfast and do it.
Go to a Veteran's Hospital or nursing home. Find a lonely man in the lobby and buy him a cup of coffee. Even if they don't tell combat stories, just let 'em know they are appreciated.

And, if you get an answer to the original questions, post 'em here.

Thanks,
Q

rocky branch
September 8, 2009, 03:18 PM
My dad was in the 506th all the way thru.

In teaching my brother and me about handling firearms muzzle discipline was foremost.

Again, as a combat vet, my experience was that people got corrected pretty fast.
Some things get almost instinctual with the proper atitude.
If you are a liability it will be brought to your attention.

Actual shootings were rare and generally involved somebody royally screwing up.

Kleanbore
September 8, 2009, 06:24 PM
Obsession with gun safety and muzzle discipline is more of a recent (last 20-30 years with modern techniques of firearms, civil liability, lawsuits, and professional awareness basically MANDATING such things for accident prevention, etc.

Maybe where you live. I started shooting in 1956--53 years ago--and one bad muzzle sweep at a military academy range or in the armory would result in disciplinary action, and a second would get you expelled.

Nothing about civil liability or lawsuits--the idea was to prevent people from getting killed.

I wouldn't characterize it as "obsession."

Dodahdude
September 8, 2009, 07:36 PM
"Hot Lips" Houlihan always had her finger on the trigger......

earlthegoat2
September 8, 2009, 08:30 PM
*************

Hammerhead6814
September 8, 2009, 08:46 PM
I don't know about you guys but if I'm being shot at by Nazi's, I might just slip up and use my gun to point at something. Hell, I may even leave my trigger finger on the trigger!

SharpsDressedMan
September 8, 2009, 09:37 PM
Just spoke to my father-in-law regarding the topic, and he stated that during training and qualification ON THE RANGE in basic, safety, muzzle control, and finger off the trigger , etc WERE the norm, 1n 1944. Movement of troops in basic was by marching, with gun slung, and unoaded. No "at the ready" carry, etc. Infantry troops (which he was not) probably got patrol techniques instruction and packed guns at the ready, practicing assaults, ambushes, etc, but I have no info on those gunhandling rules. He did say that in theater, the handling of weapons was a lot more serious, in that they were loaded and ready, and transported in hand or on vehicles a lot, but unless someone was OBVIOUSLY reckless, not a big deal was made...they didn't chastise each other constantly over gun handling. I would have to think anyone recklessly aiming his weapon at other guys would result in the other guys getting in the fools face quickly and beating him up. For the record, while in the Phillipines, my dad tried to kill a sergeant after the sergeant sent him out on an observation patrol with a BAR with no firing pin. The two man patrol spotted some high ranking Japanese officers come out of a cave on the side of a mountain in the Phillipines. When they went to take a shot, the BAR malfunctioned, and was field stripped on the spot. When my dad found the gun was without a firing pin, he knew the sergeant was trying to get him killed (they had had differences in the past). My dad said he didn't remember what he did next, but he remembered "seeing red" all the way back to camp, and was told he grabbed an M1 (rifle) out of a rack, and chased the sergeant and tried to kill him, emptying the Garand. When he was empty, guys held him down, and he was arrested and courtmartialed. Result? The sergeant admitted doing it on purpose, was busted to corporal, and my dad lost two months pay (this was typical "punsishment" in theater, war in the Phillipines, 1943-1945). There was a war to fight, and these little "incidents" were probably not that uncommon to men serving in the jungle for 2.5 years. (A little off topic, but you might see how "muzzle discipline" wasn't even mentioned in my dad's attack on the NCO..........)

wvshooter
September 8, 2009, 10:34 PM
How about "fragging"? Which is one soldier throwing a live and armed grenade or, more commonly, a disarmed grenade into an area where a target fellow soldier or soldiers is located. Or one soldier intentionally shooting another soldier when the opportunity presents itself. I don't know how common this was during the WWII European campaign but I know some of it did happen. I do know of a fragging that occured in Kuwait during Gulf 1 that killed one soldier. I read about an intentional dud fragging that occured in Vietnam. Just intended to scare the victim on a serious level. My guess is this stuff would be pretty common in the intense combat environment that went on and on month after month. I don't think sweeping with a weapon would be much of a concern during the extended combat that is portrayed in BOB. Just my .2 cents. I've never been there.

ScottG1911
September 8, 2009, 10:54 PM
I do remember hearing about troops complaing about being flagged by shoulder holstered guns, but failed to be concerned about a drop leg holster gun still pointing at them while the person was sitting down. It is definatly taught today.

My grandpa was in the army in the 40's, I will try to remember to ask him about this tomorrow for you all

NotSoFast
September 8, 2009, 11:54 PM
I was in the Navy during Vietnam. Nothing was ever said about muzzle discipline at any time we were handling small arms that I remember, even when I was receiving one-on-one training with the .45. The only thing I remember is being told to keep the muzzle downrange when on the range.

Maybe some other Vietnam vets who were there can tell us more.

mljdeckard
September 9, 2009, 12:58 AM
I did my basic training in 1991, in a field where rifle handling was not emphasized. (Armor.) I don't think I ever got the 'four rules' lecture, just a lot of 'up and downrange' repetition.

medmo
September 9, 2009, 04:06 AM
My Grandfather was a Marine Corps WW1 vet. I don't remember his muzzle discipline but he could field strip a Springfield '03 and put it back together in a jiffy. My father a WW2 era enlistee and a Korean War Vet in the Marine Corps definitely understood and enforced muzzle discipline. Myself an eightees enlisted Marine and Desert Shield/Storm vet was trained in muzzle discipline and can testify that muzzle discipline was practiced. My uncle a Vietnam Veteran who served in the US Army checks/double checks a firearm to ensure that is unloaded and then sweeps the muzzle across the room and everything in it. Maybe it breaks down to the individual branch, unit, officer, noncommissioned officer and private?

ar10
September 9, 2009, 06:29 AM
I went through USMC basic in 1962. all our weapons were M1's, BAR, WWII and Korean vintage equipment. We were not issued "modern" .308 rifles until after Vietnam started, (the Corp were always the last branch to be upgraded. A good example is while the Army and Air Force flew to Vietnam we had the pleasure of going on WWII troop ships).
Range safety was always strictly enforced but when we ended up in our first actions common sense took over. Our weapons were part of us, we slept with them, ate with them, cleaned them, and just about everything else. Sometimes they were loaded and sometimes they weren't, but most of the time they were locked-n-loaded. Cleaning was the biggest chore we did, mainly because of the environment, it was either wet or hot with high humidity, and no matter how tired, dirty, or lazy you were you kept your weapons clean. As an 0300 grunt our days were always cya days and wondering where we were going or doing next.
As far as muzzle safety, no it wasn't the most important issue we thought about, we had a lot of other things to think about.

Phil Lee
September 9, 2009, 12:21 PM
In the late 1950's I attended a military high school. That school was staffed with several regular army enlisted men and officers to train us. A Korean war vet trained us in handling firearms. One element of the training was viewing the 1945 training film "The late company B (http://www.ihffilm.com/721.html)". That film presents a number of examples of careless weapon handling that could lead to death. The film certainly shows that the Army was concerned about accidents with firearms and was training for safety.

Our trainers did not talk in terms of the four rules, but they did train muzzle pointing awareness. Mostly, it was keep your muzzle up in the air or pointed down at the ground or toward "the enemy" (down range).

Because the M-1 safety was designed to move from outside the trigger guard (ready to fire) away from the muzzle (rearward) to inside the guard (on safety) it would not be bad discipline to keep your finger inside the guard if the rifle was in safe. In that position a quick thrust forward would make the rifle ready to fire and firing would begin with rearward movement of the finger.

There may have been more trust of safeties in those days (I never heard of a properly maintained M-1 having a failure of the safety).

In the "Band of Brothers" they do show an example of careless handling of a firearm leading to death. In this case a Luger is handled by two soldiers without clearing and it fires while one of them is putting it away.

LouisianaMan
September 10, 2009, 05:10 PM
Interesting question! I sent it to my uncle & will post his answer if possible. He served in an SP field artillery unit in the ETO 1944-45.

As for me, I'm like many other posters here, in that I served in the military in a more modern era (1981-2005) & not in combat. Among other things, I ran security on a nuke weapons site in Germany & emphasized muzzle control a LOT. . .but it was also obvious that it was more than my soldiers had experienced before :-) We got a lot of "up & downrange" and "finger off the trigger" on the range, but units, soldiers & their leaders varied greatly when not in a range environment.

In my environment, we had a German entry controller wound himself seriously while "clearing" his P1 (aka P38). The German troops also remembered very well that they had an MG-3 (aka MG42) ND'ed into a platoon formation a couple of years before I got to that unit in '83, and 1-2 killed and 2-3 wounded in the incident. A fellow officer, serving on a US-Italian nuke site, lost a US soldier killed by an Italian entry controller's ND (fast-draw practice gone wrong).

In other words, my experience was (a) modern, and (b) applied in an environment where ND was a far bigger threat than hostile action by terrorists, etc.

With all that said, I observed that well-disciplined units, especially combat arms units, had a higher standard of safe weapon handling that went along with their obviously high comfort level with the weapons. I would bet that a similar dynamic shaped the combat troops of WWII, in that they would use their weapons with great familiarity if experienced and well-trained in a good unit. Hastily-trained replacements were notorious in that war (and I think in every war) for getting themselves/others hurt in every possible way, however. What I was trying to do in my unit was to get my people accustomed to safe but competent/confident weapon handling in peacetime, rather than simply waiting for the Grim Reaper to teach us the hard way if we ever went to war.

One poster questioned the use of safety catches while on patrol. . . .I've read a bazillion memoirs (I'm a history type & taught it at USMA for 6 yrs), and lots of evidence indicates that the guy(s) in the very forefront make their own decisions about that, but that anyone not in extreme threat of immediate, close-range contact with the enemy tended to keep his weapon on safe. Too much chance of AD otherwise.

Like others, though, I look forward to anything we may hear from actual combat vets of the WWII era.

KBT1911
September 10, 2009, 05:53 PM
I was in the Army in the mid 1990s and trigger discpiline was more or less an afterthought. Muzzle discipline was only enforced on ranges.

JonF
September 11, 2009, 02:47 PM
Since we're on the subject of actors exhibiting strange movie prop firearm handling behavior, i always thought it was funny when people in old 50's era gangster and other such movies would thrust the gun forward when lighting off a shot. It was always with some DA revolver too.

Sunray
September 11, 2009, 03:01 PM
It's a movie. What you see in movies isn't real. It's a bunch of actors, most of whom don't know one end of a firearm from the other, playing make believe. Most of the weapons are non-firing props too.
Even on military ranges, muzzles get pointed where they shouldn't. Buddy of mine was on a CF SMG range. Gun jams, FNG turns his whole body, with a loaded mag, finger on trigger, to tell everybody. Sterling was pointed at my buddy's stomach. He calmly took the SMG away from the guy, then explained the error of his ways.

LouisianaMan
September 11, 2009, 09:48 PM
I posted #49 yesterday, and here's a response from my uncle, who was in SP 105mm howitzers in 3rd Army.

"I DON'T BELIEVE THAT I EVER HEARD THE TERM - /MUZZLE DISCIPLINE- /BUT WE WERE MOST CERTAINLY DRILLED IN THE PRINCIPLES THAT I INTERPRET TO BE THE MEANING OF THIS EXPRESSION, AND THAT IS TO BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL AT ALL TIMES , INCLUDING COMBAT SITUATIONS, TO INSURE THAT YOUR WEAPON-WHETHER IT BE OUR SMALL ARMS (CARBINES, 45 CAL PISTOLS, THE ** 45 CAL** GREASE GUNS, THOMPSON SUBMACHINE GUNS), THE 30 CAL MACHINE GUNS, THE 50 CAL MACHINE GUNS, BAZOOKAS OR EVEN THE 105'S- DID NOT POSE A THREAT TO FRIENDLY FORCES. THIS CONCEPT WAS HAMMERED INTO OUR SKULLS FROM BASIC TRAINING TO DEPARTURE FROM BASE IN ENGLAND EN ROUTE TO NORMANDY. ALTHOUGH ENFORCEMENT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A BIT LAX DURING SOME HARRIED TIMES, TWO INCIDENTS, DURING ACTIVE COMBAT, ARE PERMANENTLY ETCHED IN MY MIND. A MEMBER OF A GUN CREW ACCIDENTALLY DISCHARGED HIS CARBINE-KILLING THE GUNNER OF HIS SECTION. HE WAS COURT MARTIALED AFTER BEING REMOVED FROM GUN CREW. THE OTHER OCCURENCE WAS THE FAILURE OF A SECTION CHIEF OF A 105 GUN CREW FAILING TO ASCERTAIN THAT THAT A FIRED PROJECTILE WOULD CLEAR TREES IN HIS FIELD OF FIRE-RESULTING IN THE WOUNDING OF FRIENDLY FORCES WHICH WE WERE SUPPORTING. HE WAS IMMEDIATELY BUSTED FROM BUCK SARGENT TO PRIVATE AND ASSIGNED TO AMMUNITION SECTION. I HOPE THIS ANSWERS YOUR QUESTION. YOU MAY USE IN WAY YOU SEE FIT-INCLUDING THAT OLD ROUND FILE 13."

cuervo
September 11, 2009, 11:54 PM
I don't know if this will be posted as its own thread, but here is something I just saw on Fox--gun handling at it's worst.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,549421,00.html?test=latestnews



RALEIGH, N.C. — Lance Cpl. Patrick Malone was relaxing on his bunk at an Iraqi combat base when a direct superior interrupted his late-night movie.

It was time for a game Marines sometimes play to build confidence in colleagues: Point a gun at a comrade and ask, "Do you trust me?"

Cpl. Mathew Nelson raised his weapon — and the 9 mm pistol went off, striking Malone in the head. The higher-ranking Marine rushed to the wounded man's side and tried to perform CPR, but Malone was mortally wounded.

The game, which has cropped up in barracks across Iraq and Afghanistan, is supposed to make a serviceman feel comfortable enough with a comrade that he would stare into the other Marine's gun barrel. But it violates the military's basic weapon-safety rules.

"I can't believe the Marines, these professional soldiers, are playing these games," said Damian Malone, father of the slain 21-year-old.

The younger Malone "was willing to put his life on the line every day, and when he came back to his unit he wasn't supposed to have to worry about his safety."

On Thursday, Nelson pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and seven counts of reckless endangerment for the shooting at Combat Outpost Viking in Anbar province just before midnight on March 9.

Nelson, 25, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was sentenced Thursday to eight years in Camp Lejeune's brig, demoted to the lowest rank in the Marines and given a bad-conduct discharge.

"From the beginning, my client has been eaten up with remorse," said Vaughan Taylor, a civilian lawyer who represented Nelson.

Taylor said the two Marines had finished the trust game, and Nelson turned away. His subordinate, from Ocala, Fla., called out to tell him he was going to attend to the unit's vehicles outside.

The corporal turned back, pulling the trigger on the weapon he didn't know was loaded, Taylor said.

The game typically begins when one service member partially inserts a bullet magazine into the handle of a pistol and pretends to pull back the gun's slide to make it appear that the weapon is ready to fire.

He then points the weapon at a fellow service member before either pulling the trigger or lowering the gun. Typically, even if he pulls the trigger the weapon will not discharge because a bullet is not in the chamber.

"When you give high-powered weapons to young men, once in a while bad things are going to happen," said Gary Solis, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and attorney who teaches on the law of armed conflict at West Point and Georgetown.

"You have young men, bored, killing time with a gun. That's not a good mix," Solis said. "I don't think the Marines have any corner on this. I think it happens in the civilian community as well."

The Marine Corps Times reported this week that the game had similar deadly end in 2007, when a Kentucky Army National Guardsman shot and killed a fellow soldier.

The guardsman who fired the fatal shot later said he learned to play from other members of his unit while deployed to Iraq in 2006.

Damian Malone believes his son's unit hid the game from their superiors and claimed they were building trust within the team. But the practice amounts to a form of hazing that should be wiped out of the military, he said.

Patrick Malone joined the Marines in 2007 after a year at the University of South Florida and another year at a community college closer to home. He went to Iraq in October 2008 as an anti-tank missileman.

"I guess there's a little closure on this because you meet who this guy was and you see what happened," Damian Malone said after attending the court-martial with his wife and other family members. "Now we want to expose this game, wherever it is."

chuckusaret
September 12, 2009, 01:31 PM
You have to take all movies with a grain of salt because they are produced by idiots like Michael Moore, use high ranking ex- military officers as consultants who, in most cases have never been in combat or in a combat leaders role. I laugh at the way the rank and brass is misplaced on the uniforms in most movies, even the lowest private would know better.

I spent 24 years in the military, in both peace and war, and never saw or heard of "Trust Me Games" with weapons.

Units that have incidents such as these have very poor leadership from the asst. squad leader to the commanding officer. In my day there would have been many people relieved and diciplined. If the officers that were in command did not resign, would most likely have been forced out of the service because of the bad efficiency report that they would have received because of the incident.

In Vietnam there were incidents where a scumbag would attempt or kill a leader. The first thing after the investgation was completed, in most cases, the officer in charge was relieved of duty and transfered. Very few people that carried out a crime like this were every caught. Some that were never lived to be tried by a military court.

divemedic
September 12, 2009, 02:47 PM
It doesn't take much of a gogle image search to find such pictures today, even. Tell me the guys in the following pics aren't sweeping anyone:

http://www.justnews.com/2009/0221/18767344_240X180.jpg


http://www.finalcall.com/artman/uploads/1/afghan_us_troops03-31-2009b.jpg

http://www.openhere.com/images/newsimgs/afp_iraq_us_troops_03jul08_190.jpg

bigalexe
September 12, 2009, 07:14 PM
IMHO I think when you are in a combat situation pretty much 100% of the gun rules go out the window and your safeties are the thing between your ears and how that interacts with your hands.

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