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Rifle practice for the Army?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Phantom Warrior, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. Phantom Warrior

    Phantom Warrior Participating Member

    Mar 7, 2003
    I'm going into the Army next June, as anyone who's been following my thread in RT knows. For those of you who don't, I'll be an 11X, Infantry Recruit. I'm interested in going to sniper school, among other things. From what I've gathered it sounds like part of selection for that depends on your marksmanship at basic.

    Is it or is it not a good idea to practice with an M-16 type rifle before basic? I've wanted an AR for a while, so I wouldn't mind buying one and if I could practice for the Army so much the better. If you thing it is a good idea what type of AR would you recommend? 14.5" M4gery or 20" A2? I've had my eye on a 16" (solid barrel, no flash thingy) carbine, probably w/ a removable carry handle. Would that fit the bill?

    Former Army people, your input would be appreciated.
  2. Dbl0Kevin

    Dbl0Kevin Participating Member

    May 26, 2004
    Well I haven't been in the Army, but I will say this about the subject. While in the police academy we were told numerous times that those who had prior shooting experience were harder to train, wouldn't do as good....blah blah blah. Well come range week all that turned out to be complete BS. I had been shooting since I was 14, and did not require any instruction and was one of the few people shooting perfect scores. Whereas the people who never touched a gun in their life were far behind the curve and had a lot of catching up to do. Some could not catch up fast enough and got kicked out cause they couldn't learn to shoot in a week.

    I've always found it stupid when people say that you shouldn't try to learn anything prior to formal training. Familiarity with something prior to training is always a plus in my opinion as you won't be as nervous, and can pick up more advanced tips and persepectives if you already have the basics.

    That's my .02. :)
  3. Trebor

    Trebor Senior Member

    Feb 15, 2003
    The Army is going to want to teach you the Army way. Personally, I think your time would be better spent on physical conditioning. Even if you are already in shape, I'm sure you can be in better shape and conditioning will help you much more than any marksmanship practice.

    The only marksmanship work that might help is to work on squeezing the trigger smoothly without disturbing the sight picture. It really doesn't matter what firearm you use for this. Even practicing with a .22 pistol can help you develop good trigger control.

    You'll train with the standard M-16A2 service rifle.

    The army will attempt to teach you everything they want you to know. Pay attention, even if it seems redundant at the time, and keep your mouth shut and your nose clean. A positive attitude will help you get selected for any future special training more than any self-taught familiarity with the AR that you brought with you.

    Good luck.
  4. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    NW Florida

    It wouldn't hurt to practice. If you do, get the 20" A2 version.

    I would also like to add that if your heart is set on being a 11B, then so be it, but I'd highly recommend that you go for something that has a civilian equivalent in the real world. There isn't much of a need for grunts in the real world. I found that out when I got out as a 13B. Not much of a need for cannon cockers. I got lucky and got out on disability, so I'm going through college for something better. A lot of guys weren't as lucky and are having to start from scratch when they got out. Shoot for a job as high as your GT score will qualify you for.

    Also, whatever you want, get the recruiter to put it in writing for you. If you want Airborne school....then get it in writing. Air Assault. Get it in writing. If it isn't in writing then it isn't valid. Sniper school is a bit different since the selection is from line units and not recruits. However, getting Airborne or Air Assault will definitely help get you into a unit where you can attend sniper school.

    Good Shooting
  5. threefeathers

    threefeathers Participating Member

    Jun 5, 2003
    As a retired 19D with half my career as an 11B I have to say to get in perfect condition. It is how you will be judged. Go online and study map reading skills. You have to be a PERFECT infantryman before they will even consider you for sniper school.
  6. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Well, I've been there, done that, so my opinion might have some weight. In fact, I've been thru the U.S. Army's Basic Combat Training twice. (I was out for 5 years, so when I went back in, I had to redo BCT.) Of course, you can always disregard my advice, afterall, you aren't paying for it.

    In my experience, those people who haven't shot a rifle before and who pay attention to what the Drill Sgts tell them, will do better than those who have previously shot a rifle, developed bad habits, and are too stubborn to listen to what the Drill Sgts are trying to teach them. Now, those with some weapons familiarity who haven't developed a lot of bad habits and are willing to learn from those who know more than they do, are going to most likely excell at Basic Rifle Marksmanship.

    If you're dead-set on getting a jump-start on BRM, do it right. Get ahold of the proper Army Field Manuals and find yourself an Army vet who is both willing AND capable of teaching you the RIGHT way. I say again, capable of teaching you the RIGHT way! Just because your neighbor down the street spent a couple years in the Guard and now plays Airsoft on the weekends, he may not be capable of teaching you.

    When I first went to Ft. Benning as an 11X, I thought I knew everything there was to know about shooting. Heck, I'd hunted deer in Montana with my old .30-30 and had even handled an M16A2 at a DEP function once. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. One thing that sticks in my mind was the day at the zero range, when I went to wrap my sling around my forearm as a way to steady the rifle. Drill Sgt. Harris was quick to tell me to stop what I was trying to do. Using a sling in such a way is great in competition, but it's not a good thing on an Army qualification range. Think about it, you're training to use your rifle in a combat situation, you most likely won't have time to wrap the sling around. You can't tell Hajji to stop shooting them RPG's so you can get your proper shootng stance.

    Besides, unless you have access to a Kevlar and Load-Bearing vest, you won't even be really replicating the way the you'll be shooting in Basic. Also, you'll most likely get some strange looks when you start digging a hole at the firing line of your local range in order to practice for the foxhole-supported position.

    In short, if you're willing to forget everything you think you know when you get on the plane to Ft. Benning, and to shut your pie-hole and open your ears once you get to Sand Hill, go ahead and practice now. (Although, I wouldn't recommend it.)

    However, if you know you're the type of person to assume you've already learned the right way, so what could that 10-15 year veteran with 2 combat tours teach you, then don't do it.


    PS - What others above have said about practicing PT instead of BRM is great advice. The Drill Sgts will be much happier having a PT stud around than having a expert rifleman around.
  7. Phantom Warrior

    Phantom Warrior Participating Member

    Mar 7, 2003
    Hmmmm...interesting. If the finances are really good maybe I'll look into it, but it sounds like a good pair of running shoes might be a better investment. :D Thanks for the advice guys.

    Regarding the other comments, I covered most of this in my other thread, but here's the thumbnail. I will graduate in May w/ two B.S. degrees and am probably planning to go to law school when I get out of the Army so I'm not really in for the vocational training. I couldn't get any training written into my contract because of my vision, because my initial medical rating is too low to put anything in my contract. It's good enough to get in and will be good enough for me to do Ranger or anything like that ONCE I'M IN, but I guess the initial exam is the one that governs the enlistment contract.

    I'm aware of my limitations and if I do some shooting before I go in I'll be sure to remember to go to basic w/ an open mind. Thanks for the advice.
  8. 444

    444 Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    This is just repeating what has already been said, but buying a rifle and taking it out plinking isn't going to do you any good.
    On the other hand, going to something like a CMP match where good shooters teach you the basics of marksmanship can never hurt. I went through basic over 20 years ago, so I don't know if this applies, but the shooting was not difficult at all and didn't require any extrodinary skill to shoot expert. But good quality instruction is never a bad idea. But it needs to be someone who really knows what they are doing or you are only learning bad habits.
  9. JamisJockey

    JamisJockey member

    Jan 4, 2003
    Northern VA
    speaking as an ex-Jarhead, not Army...but...

    Skip the M16 practice. Of course, make sure you're up on your good habits like not flinching shots, breathing, and saftey.
    It wouldn't hurt, however, to know some of the nomenclature of the M16 and how to take it apart/reasseble.
    Neither should be a priority. Instead....
    Spend most of your prep time on getting in top physical shape. Make sure that you are well within your allowed weight range. Pullups, pushups, situps, and running should be your top priority. Being in good shape will help with your shooting, by the way.
    Try and get your sleeping patterns adjusted to 6 hours, up by 0500 (5 am).
    Spend time with your family, you won't see much of them for the next few years.
    Good luck, and thanks for your service!
  10. goalie

    goalie Participating Member

    May 1, 2003
    Minnetonka, Minnesota
    If you have not been shooting highpower for years, it is too late to do much about the shooting before you go, although you have plenty of time to develop bad habbits.

    On the other hand, being in great shape when you go is an advantage that is hard to put a value on.

    Buy the running shoes.

    (FWIW, I was a Marine (infantry), not in the Army. I think the advice is still good.)
  11. haynhogdogger

    haynhogdogger New Member

    Sep 11, 2004
    Yup some good advice. Just a repeat but... Basics like breathing, slow steady squeeze, sight alignment, sight picture etc etc. would probably be the best thing to do and familiarity with the weapon of choice. like someone said earlier get some good manuals and someone to teach you the right way. make the first shot count one-shot one-kill...

    "PT PT EVERYDAY" just having a flashback hehehe!!! Oh Yeah buddy get in some PT work on your weaknessess whatever they may be running,pushups etc. not sure about the Army I was in the Corps but im sure it wont hurt any.

    And Yes, Thank You for your Service Good Luck and Godspeed!!!

  12. schromf

    schromf Active Member

    Jan 25, 2004
    I don't know about others but my rifle skills didn't improve any in basic.

    My first firing on the range, I grouped 10 on a quarter which my DI immediatly noticed. I spent the rest of the day sighting the rifle in and didn't repeat that group, as I was playing with my sights.

    All of this payed off and I did KP during every other range practice session in basic. My next day I shooting was qualification day. I had never done the quick fire portion of training, due to KP commitments, and blew my first shot, and remember to this day my DI saying slow down, look how much time you have left. I listened, and shot the next 79 right. Top score in my company. The guy who took number 2 was a and ol county boy from Louisiana, he scored a 78. Bringing the skillset with you pays off.

    I attribute my rifle skills to my father who was a hard nosed ol Colonel, who taught me right from the age of six, and had me spend many hours of my youth practicing riflemanship skills.

    Being exposed to shooting before your military training is good, but the quality of the training is very important. My father was a excellent marksman, and taught me the correct way, with no shortcuts. I was very familiar with military rifle ranges and technics thanks to him, it was top notch training, and yes folks gruelling for a 10 year old. Later it paid off when I won State Guard matches, and although my father had passed away by then, I can honestly say he worked as hard for those trophies as I did, and I wish he had lived so I could have given them to him.

    But my advise is if you know how to shoot before you get to basic, don't show it usless you like KP. And unless your training was very formal teaching all of the shooting disciplines listen and pay attention to what your being taught, your odds of success are a lot better.
  13. Langenator

    Langenator Senior Member

    Jul 30, 2003
    Ft Belvoir, VA
    Holy smeg, I might actually be something of an authority on a subject, seeing how I actually command a basic training company at Ft Jackson.

    Ditto what everyone has said about PT. PT, PT, PT. Pushups, situps, and 2 mile run. That's the PT test. When you practice your pushups, have someone watch you to check your form. Keep your back straight, and make sure your upper arms are parallel to the ground at the bottom. For running, the current PT program for IET (Initial Entry Training) consists of two ability group (soldiers grouped according to how fast they can run) runs and one sprint session per week, plus 2-3 sessions of muscle strength. So practice on both distance (for cardio vascular) and sprints (for speed.)

    As far as basic rifle marksmanship goes, familiarity with how to shoot helps, but just this cycle I had a female soldier who'd never fired a gun before in her life qualify expert (36 out of 40). She listened to the drill sergeants.

    The 4 Fundamentals you will be taught:

    Steady Position
    Sight Picture
    Trigger Squeeze

    Pay attention to what the drill sergeants are teaching, and don't spend your training time before you start on the ranges-and there's a good bit of it-dorking around. Use the time you're given.

    That being said, sniper school selection will be done by your unit. In 7+ years in the Infantry, I've never seen anyone less experienced than a senior E-4 with at least 2-3 years in the Army sent to sniper school. Units will screen really hard, because sniper school has a pretty high fail-out rate.

    Things you CO/1SG/PL/PSG will look at:

    BRM score (duh)
    PT score (ditto)
    Overall smarts (which you seem to have plenty of)
    Motivation and general stick-toitiveness. Have to be willing to work hard fo it.

    Most soldiers who go to sniper school are already part of the unit sniper team(s), and will get plenty of training in things such as stalking, target detection, range estimation, and sniper-type shooting, which is very, very different from shooting pop up targets at ranges of 330m or less with an M16/M4.

    Good luck.
  14. Greg L

    Greg L Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Northern KY
    You should find out if there are any vision requirements that might disqualify you from sniper training before you get your heart set on it (see if you can find the phone # to the sniper school & call them directly. Your recruiter already knows the answer that you want to hear....). A sniper who is out in the boonies with one other guy is in a much bigger world of hurt than one who is part of an entire platoon when your glasses break.

    As was mentioned above, the school is probably looking for the best infantryman who is a decent shot rather than a great shot who gets lost on his way to the bathroom. Your extra time now would be well spent out in the woods learning how to read a contour map & how whats on the paper translates to what you can see right in front of you. If you can get a local one with military grids on it great, but the grid system is easy to pick up on if not. The important thing is to get a local map (1:50,000 preferably) so that you can physically see what all those lines are.

    This is a good time of year as well to work on walking quietly while you are out in the woods. If you can move quickly and quietly through the woods (while not getting lost on the way to the bathroom ;) ) you will be noticed.

    See if you can pick up a Ranger Handbook somewhere. There is lots of good information in there that you will want to be at least somewhat familiar with. Also the requirements for the EIB (Expert Infantry Badge) will give you a very good idea of what you need to know.

    Learn a lot about camoflage, both how to use it & how to spot it. A sniper spends more time hiding than shooting.

    Just some random Monday morning thoughts from someone else with bad eyes who wound up being a REMF ;) . However it turns out though, thanks for at least stepping up to the plate.

  15. Shawn1

    Shawn1 New Member

    May 3, 2004
    New Jersey
    In basic they will most likely make you touch your nose to the charging handle while shooting like they did in my company. Are you going to Fort Benning? nThats where I was, Sand Hill, do some physical conditioning before you get there, it is hard work. I was in 1st Battalion 50th Infantry Alpha Company 1st Platoon.
  16. WT

    WT Participating Member

    Jun 11, 2003
    In a recent issue of PROCEEDINGS OF THE US NAVAL INSTITUTE (August 2004, p. 2) US Marine Corps Major Stanton S. Coerr of San Diego, CA said "the National Rifle Association's right-to-bear arms mantra is a joke ....."

    The September and October issues of PROCEEDINGS contained letters to the editor from other Marine officers taking strong exception to the misguided major. Personally, I think Coerr is a disgrace to the Marines and he would do well to review the Constitution that he swore to protect and defend.

    Anyway, some of the letters noted that active duty Marines, Soldiers and SEALs were seeking small arms training from NRA certified instructors. Others sought specialized sniper training in civilian schools. They did so, spending their own money, because they felt that their military firearms training was not adequate for the unconditional warfare they were fighting in Iraq.

    One letter noted that NRA instructors cared more about training our trigger pullers than did some "active duty leaders."

    Summation: you have time before your induction. Go get the extra training. Find a qualified instructor or a qualified school and use the time and instruction to make yourself a better Soldier.

    God bless you and stay safe!
  17. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Before you try to make yourself a BETTER soldier, it's probably a good idea to concentrate on BECOMING a soldier first. It's kind of like that whole crawl, walk, run theory. Don't start out trying to learn all the high-speed, low-drag, this-is-the-way-the-Navy-SEELS-Delta-Rangers-do-it stuff. Instead, allow the Drill Sgts to do their job. Afterall, Basic Combat Training is called Basic Combat Training for a reason - it teaches you the BASICS! No one has ever said (at least no one who knew wth he was talking about) that BCT was the end-all-to-end-all about combat training. Once you've figured out the basics (crawling) and are through with BCT/AIT/OSUT, then take some classes if you desire at Front Site, LFI, Thunder Ranch, etc., or learn from the NCO's in your unit (walking). Then you'll be ready for the two-way live fire (running).

    No, you don't need to be an MOS-qualified soldier to learn things at FS, LFI, TR, et al. However, that's just another opportunity to pick up those habits the Drill Sgts don't want or need you to have. The Army has been in the business of turning civilians into soldiers for a long time. Do they offer the best marksmanship training during BCT? No. But they do teach you enough to prepare you to go to a line unit and learn your job from your NCO's.
  18. Thumper

    Thumper Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Rosenberg, Texas

    'Course, you don't need an excuse to buy an AR...go ahead and do that anyway.

    Nice to have a CO's input, Langenator.
  19. ScorpioVI

    ScorpioVI Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    Heh, nice to see other Benning Alumni posting on this board. I chuckled when I read the words "Sand Hill", haven't read or heard those words in a while. The irony is that I'm currently working on another "Sand Hill", i.e. "Sand Hill Rd." in Menlo Park, CA.

    Anyways, I don't have any advice that these wonderful vets haven't already given. From my experience though, I went to Benning with hardly any shooting experience (lots of BB guns and paintball, but only a couple of "????-around" trips to the range with my brother). I came out shooting expert, just by listening to the instructors. So like the rest of these people have been saying, forget shooting and do PT instead.

    "More PT Drill Sergeant, MORE PT!"

    "Ex-11C" #246, Alpha Co./2-54INF "Hells Kitchen" 1996
  20. wmenorr67

    wmenorr67 Member

    May 14, 2004
    Tulsa, OK--Formerly Kansas City, Kansas
    Ditto what everyone else has already said. But I will add that if you already have two degrees and are looking towards law school I would check into going thru OCS and the Army may even pick up the law school tab. I do know that the National Guard is really short officers and I would guess so is the active side.
    Keep your head down and your mouth shut and you should go far.

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