2018 USAR Midwestern: Wrap Up

Thanks to CSM Ted L. Copeland, Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve, for attending the 2018 USAR Midwestern Small Arms Championships. And thank you to all the Soldiers that competed and supported this event.

Event info and results:

Photo Album


The 2018 USAR Midwestern Small Arms Championships was designed to enhance combat marksmanship skills, recognize individual and team achievement, and to develop marksmanship trainers. Service Conditions matches enable Warriors to concentrate solely on marksmanship training under competitive conditions.

Individual Rifle

Rifle Match 1
3rd Place: SFC Mohamad Affandy
2nd Place: SFC John Furgiuele
1st Place: SFC Cheryl Morris

Rifle Match 2
3rd Place: SFC Timothy Mcdonald
2nd Place: CW3 Joseph Hayes
1st Place: SFC John Furgiuele

Rifle Match 321
3rd Place: CW3 Joseph Hayes
2nd Place: SSG Timothy Miller
1st Place: SFC John Furgiuele

Rifle Individual Championship Match
3rd Place: SFC Mohamad Affandy
2nd Place: CW3 Joseph Hayes
1st Place: SFC John Furgiuele

Individual Pistol

Pistol Match 1
3rd Place: CW4 Jerry Mannes
2nd Place: SSG Robert Thompson
1st Place: MAJ Tyler Waterhouse

Pistol Match 2
3rd Place: PFC Maxwell Schumer
2nd Place: SSG Robert Thompson
1st Place: MAJ Tyler Waterhouse

Pistol Match 221:
3rd Place: SSG Christopher Waite
2nd Place: MAJ Tyler Waterhouse
1st Place: SFC Bradford Griffith

Pistol Individual Championship
3rd Place: SSG Christopher Waite
2nd Place: SSG Robert Thompson
1st Place: MAJ Tyler Waterhouse

Other Individual Awards
Top Career Counselor
2nd place: SFC Cheryl Morris
1st place: SFC John Furgiuele

Top Drill Sergeant
2nd place SFC Craig Butler
1st place SFC Timothy Mcdonald

Combined Arms Individual Champion
Aggregate score of all the matches fired with the rifle and the pistol.
3rd Place: SFC Cheryl Morris
2nd Place: SFC John Furgiuele
1st Place: MAJ Tyler Waterhouse

Team Matches

Pistol Team Champion
Aggregate score of all Shooting Team Members for the individual pistol matches and the Team Pistol Match. All Team members stand and be recognized.

3rd place team
2-338 TSBN
SSG Waite (Team Captain)
SSG Wasson
SSG Gangler
SGT Richardson

2nd Place Team
2nd BN Knights
SFC Frazier (Team Captain)
SFC Henning
SFC Vardalis
SFC Rodriquez, Samuel

1st place team
MAJ Rodriquez (Team Captain)
MAJ Waterhouse
CW3 Hayes
MSG Phoenix

Rifle Team Champion
Aggregate score of all Shooting Team Members for the individual rifle matches and the Rifle Team match.

3rd place team
Wolverines 1
MSG Dickey
SFC Tennant (Team Captain)
SFC McDonald
SFC David

2nd Place Team
643rd Bravo
SFC Affandy
SSG Turull
SPC Cayten
SPC Ellis

1st place team
MAJ Rodriquez (Team Captain)
MAJ Waterhouse
CW3 Hayes
MSG Phoenix

Overall Team Champions
Aggregate score of all Shooting Team Members for all matches fired.

3rd place team
2nd BN Knights
SFC Frazier (Team Captain)
SFC Henning
SFC Vardalis
SFC Rodriquez

2nd Place Team:
643rd Bravo
SFC Affandy
SSG Turull
SPC Cayten
SPC Ellis

1st place team
MAJ Rodriquez, Daniel (Team Captain)
MAJ Waterhouse
CW3 Hayes
MSG Phoenix

Improving Rifle Qualification: Part 1 Zero

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6 improve zero range

The US Army has utilized the current version of Trainfire since the early 1980s. Even with changes in the new Training Circulars released FY16-17, the basic ideas remain the same. The concept is to teach a Soldier to reliably place hits somewhere on a silhouette a few hundred meters away. The current program concept is sound but the execution is often lacking.

First, let’s look at the prescribed training and qualification program. Soldiers begin with a grouping exercise at 25 meters. Shot location doesn’t matter at first as we’re testing marksmanship ability. The standard was two consecutive groups inside four centimeters (6 Minutes of Angle), the scaled width of a full-size silhouette 300 meters away. The current suggested standard is a single five-round group of 4 MoA in the new bullseye-type zero target. Up to 27 rounds were supposed to be available, allowing for remedial training and practice as needed.

With this accomplished, the Soldier zeroes by adjusting sights to move groups to center, firing groups to confirm and readjust as needed. On the old zero target, a four-centimeter circle subscribed in the silhouette indicates center and at least five rounds out of six from two consecutive groups must land there to be deemed acceptably zeroed. The current zero target has a 4 MoA/2.7cm circle surrounded by a 6 MoA/4cm circle with a one-inch white diamond to indicate center. Eighteen additional rounds were supposed to be available for this.

After success here the Soldier heads to a RETS (Remote Engagement Target System) to shoot “pop up” targets from 50 to 300 meters away that appear singly or in pairs on a time limit. A hit anywhere is supposed to knock it down and earns a point. With 40 total targets exposed the Soldier needs to hit at least 23 to qualify. The current qualification (Modified Barricade) course uses the same range by adds a barricad to shoot around and over in prone, kneeling, and supported standing positions with a timed delay in between each shooting phase.

This is a logical progression but it falls apart in practice. Too often, Soldiers view the preliminary training at 25 meters as something to get through quickly. The 25 meter range is often terribly inefficient. Problem is, the scaled range is the only place Soldiers get any feedback on their shooting. RETS targets are very reliable when properly maintained but may not always be perfectly so. Of course, most times a “bad target” is blamed for misses when a poor zero or bad shooting is the likely cause. Sometimes, a shooter with good slow fire group shooting ability and a solid zero has lackluster qual results due to an initial inability to work at speed; more so now that the entire current Modified Barricade qualification is shot as continuous phases. Even if RETS targets were guaranteed 100% every time we still can’t see where a miss went, much less why, and it costs 40 rounds to realize problems.

It is rare to find units willing to allocate the full amount of ammo authorized on the 25 meter range. Most understand the notion of getting shots inside the circle but undervalue the benefit from confirming a zero or shooting groups in general. This is the only place a Soldier can practice during live fire but grouping and zero is deemed complete when the designated rounds have been expended. If the first target is shredded to ineligibility range personnel will stubbornly refuse a new one. They’ll also refuse an additional three rounds to confirm zero. Even if offered a fresh target and additional ammo Soldiers often refuse it, possibly because they fear what they’ll learn.

Inexperienced personnel running the tower play an annoying game I call “Army Simon Says” except they overuse the phrase “at this time” instead. Even more absurd than the ridiculous amount of lock step commands under the false guise of safety is the incredible amount of time this wastes. Shooters are rushed through their 3-5 shots, instructors (if there even are any) have no time to converse with someone struggling and the line drags in Hokey Pokey fashion down and up range. An experienced coach may want an extra minute to explain something with the target in front of a struggling shooter but this holds the line up for everyone else. No wonder troops want to stumble off to the qual range with a “nearo” and get the ordeal over.

Qualification is a validation, not training. It would be folly to administer a standardized physical fitness test every day in an attempt to improve scores instead of intelligent, progressive overload and is is equally silly to repeat a qualification without remedial training. Increases in skill are only realized when shooters are in a learning environment offering feedback.

How can we improve these procedures to implement better training? The common “solution” is a call for more trigger time. Simply shooting more without having a plan combined with feedback of the effort accomplishes little. Experienced riflemen typically call for training on Known Distance ranges with target carriers and pits as a solution. While an excellent idea, solving the feedback problem and allowing shooting at full distance, the Army has let many of their KD ranges to dilapidate and most units simply don’t know how to conduct such a range.

The emphasis needs to be put back on training, teaching, testing and re-testing fundamentals. Sadly, the Army realized this but has spent the last three decades forgetting lessons already learned. The current program was implemented by 1982 as detailed in FC 23-11, Unit Rifle Marksmanship Training Guide. Trainfire improvements fixed failures known in the Vietnam era. Grouping exercises are to be conducted until the Soldier is proven to shoot well with remedial training offered as needed. Then we zero, which is a separate exercise with an additional ammo allocation. Following this we’re supposed to conduct a validation exercise with a timed and scored exercise. Only when passed is the Soldier finally sent to the RETS range to attempt qualification. In the last thirty years, the Army has eliminated (or ignored) the KD range and all established field firing/validation phases. Soldiers typically are quickly shuffled through an abbreviated group and zero exercise and sent off to the RETS range for qual as quickly as possible. We are devolved back to a failed program from the 1970s.

Fixing Qualification
New Zero Target

In the center is a 4 MOA diamond and dashed circle, surrounded by a 6 MOA (4cm) dashed circle, same size as old zero target. This is surrounded by 8, 12, MOA rings inside a 16 MOA bull (4 inch black circle, which scales the same as B-6 NRA bull at 50 yards.) Around this are 20, 24, 28, 32 MOA circles (5, 6, 7, 8 inches, respectively.) The entire target has 1 MOA grid squares. Soldiers are expected to learn MOA/mils and use as appropriate.

Notice the grid is in an even adjustment of one minute when placed 25 meters downrange, not for any particular sight’s adjustment. No cartoons or pictures show which way to turn the sight for a desired adjustment. The Army’s current doctrine for zeroing procedure demands Soldier understanding of their issue equipment. The Technical Manuals list appropriate offsets as needed. Of course, because the laws of physics haven’t changed, the data in the Small Arms Integration Book is still a valid resource. That will take research on your part.

Fixing Qualification
Efficient Zero Procedure

The failed Army approach is to clear the line for a cease fire after each fired group, with shooters allowed to go down range to check their target. This wastes huge amounts of time. Even the fastest attempts has the line cold for five minutes at a time and most ranges it’s over ten minutes. Shutting down the range for 5-15 minutes after each 60-90 second shooting period is a waste of time. Worse, coaches only have a brief window to work with shooters as nobody can handle weapons during the long, frequent cease fire breaks.

The fix: Break the unit down into buddy teams and put two shooters on each available firing point. Keep the total relays as small as the range will allow. Staple up as many zero targets as will fit on the backers. The more the better. Number them so they can be readily identified. Explain to all shooters that both they and their partner must successfully group, zero, and pass a scored validation exercise before going to the RETS for qualification. This motivates good peer coaching.

The range is conducted in 10-20 minute block times. The line is cleared and personnel go down range only to replace used targets as needed, preferably no more than four times an hour. Shot groups as normal, with peer coaches watching their shooters. Check the target as needed with optics. At 25 meters even cheap compact binoculars can see strikes. A quarter-inch bullet hole is one minute of angle at this distance and can often be seen with naked vision. Using an optic to do the walking instead of stopping the line every 3-5 rounds makes this range efficient. Peer teams can talk as needed or ask for an experienced coach without disrupting anyone else. Practice and dry fire, or letting the peer coach and shooter switch can be done without stopping the line.

When a target has too many holes to discern group location (after every three or four groups or so) the shooter switches to a clean one. Purchased in bulk, paper targets are pennies each. One round of ball ammunition is around $0.27. Trying to conserve targets is false economy!

When the shooter is confident their zero is good, it should be confirmed on a fresh target with no bullet holes. Zero should be also be confirmed with slow and sustained fire groups from unsupported prone, kneeling, and any other useful position based on time and ammunition availability.

This approach improves training while ultimately saving time and ammunition.

Helmut Hein

Helmut’s funeral:

Helmut J. Hein, soldier and friend, left us on 23 March. With his passing, soldiers lost a passionate small arms combat readiness advocate. Funeral information is:
Friday 6 April, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM with Rosary at 7 PM at:
Northside Chapel Funeral Directors & Crematory
12050 Crabapple Road, Roswell, GA,
Funeral Mass:
Saturday 7 April at 10:30 AM at:
St Michael’s Church715 Hardscrabble Rd, Roswell, GA.
Burial will be in the cemetery on the church property after the Mass.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Helmut’s name to either La Salette Academyhttp://www.lasalette.net/donate
or St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary
Funeral & Visitation directions & detail are found at:

Obituary for Mr. Helmut J. Hein

Helmut J. Hein, age 65, passed away on 23 March 2018. Helmut was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, the son and brother of immigrants from Germany.

Helmut enlisted in the Army in 1973 and served in Special Forces as a light weapons sergeant in 10th, 7th, and 12th Groups, ultimately attaining the rank of First Sergeant. At the time of his death, Helmut was vice president of Chapter 59, Special Forces Association.

After leaving active duty, Helmut served as a police officer in Cherry Valley, Illinois. He eventually left the police department to work for the Department of the Army in the field of small arms training. Helmut was a tireless advocate for military marksmanship and a staunch supporter of the Army Reserve competitive shooting program. Combining these passions, he made significant and innovative improvements to the Army Reserve Small Arms Training Program.

Helmut was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 and became fully involved in the activities at St. Michael’s in Roswell, Georgia, serving as the chapel coordinator.

Helmut was preceded in death by his father Leo and is survived by his mother Lydia, older brother Walt, wife Linda, sons Collin and John, daughter-in-law Pam, and grandchildren Michael, Ryan, and Katie.

From Mike Campbell:

Helmut J. Hein, soldier and friend, left us on 23 March, due to an auto accident. With his passing, soldiers lost a passionate small arms combat readiness advocate.

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Dry Practice and Drills

#USArmyReserve #WednesdayWisdom @USArmyReserve #WeaponsMastery #WalkthroughWednesday

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5 dry practice and drills

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Vietnam won their first-ever gold medal in ten-meter air pistol with Hoang Xuan Vihn’s victory. He was at a severe disadvantage compared to most of the other competitors because he was very limited in the amount of ammunition available to him prior to the Olympics.

Hoang incorporated a regimen of dry-fire, practicing thousands of repetitions of his shot process, and practiced honest self-assessment of what he was doing. These things are what allowed him to compete at the highest level and win. Dry fire drills work for an Olympic-level competitive shooter. They are more than good enough to work for Soldiers.

Dry fire drills are built around the following Principles: Mindset, Efficiency, Individual Tactics, and Flexibility.

Mindset is the Soldier’s ability to perform the functional tasks of operating the weapon under stress. Mindset is what will make or break your focus on your environment. Efficiency in reference to these drills is being able to use the minimal amount of time and resources to achieve the desired outcome. In other words, producing repeatable results in minimum time. Individual Tactics are done to maximize chances of survival and victory. Examples include choice of cover and standoff from the threat. Flexibility is realizing multiple techniques can be used to achieve the same goal.

The Drills

A dry practice plan is covered in current Army Training Circulars for small arms training. Appendix Delta covers these dry-fire drills.

Having covered principles, what drills should we use? While skilled shooters already have and regularly use useful dry practice drills (that’s how they became skilled) most Soldiers do not. Appendix D of all current small arms Training Circulars lists eleven recommended drills to get started. The A through K Drills are common to all small arms, modified as appropriate for each particular weapon and its intended role and application.

Drills Alpha through Charlie are the basic functional tasks that it takes to operate a weapon. These reinforce that the Soldier is the weapon’s safety.

Drill A the Weapon Check, an accountability check and visual inspection that it’s clear, conducting a functions check, location of the rail, data and zero dope, magazines, and noting all serial numbers. The weapon check is a visual inspection of the weapon by the Soldier, verifying at a minimum that the weapon is clear, serial numbers (weapon and devices) and attachments, Functions Check, and serviceability. This is initiated when first receiving the weapon from the arms room, storage facility, or stacked/grounded location.

Drill B is place weapon in action. With rifles and automatic rifles, this is Sling/Unsling, pistols is Draw/Holster, and crew-served machine guns it is the crew drill of mounting and emplacement. This tests the ability to change the location of the weapon on demand.

Drill C is an equipment check, a pre-combat check that the system is ready for action. This Pre-Combat Check ensures the aiming devices, equipment, and accessories are prepared. This includes any batteries are installed, that everything is secured correctly, that equipment does not interfere with tactical movement, and the basic load of magazines are stowed properly.

This builds in some redundancy from Drill A to ensure everything is ready to go. Note, this requires organizing and repurposing the issue Pogie Bait pouches and MRE holsters, otherwise known as “magazine pouches.” This provides a place to carry those spring-loaded bullet boxes, otherwise known as “magazines.”

Drills D and E are the basic functional tasks for handling the weapon in a combat environment.

Drill D is an ‘administrative’ load, done after Drill C as the weapon is placed into Amber or Red status.

Drill E is the Carry 5/3 which goes through five methods of carry three times. Five carry methods include Hang, Safe hang, Collapsed low ready, Low ready, High ready or Ready up). Moving through these as appropriate for your weapon at least three times show proficiency at basic handling skills.

A leader will announce the appropriate carry term to initiate the drill. Each carry method should be executed in a random order a minimum of three times.

The next drills cover moving into and out of useful positions.

Drill F is Fight Down, moving effectively and efficiently downward into lower firing postures. Starting from the standing position, on command the shooter moves into the next lower position as announced. This typically goes from Standing, Kneeling or Squatting, Sitting, then Prone in order. Variations of each position as appropriate to the weapon and conditions are encouraged.

Start standing. “Kneeling” (move and settle). “Sitting” (move and settle). “Prone” (move and settle.)

Drill G is Fight Up and is the same idea but done moving into higher positions.

Drill H is Go-To-Prone, which is ability to drop from a standing or crouching position to prone. This should also be done from a walk and a forward sprint. Standard time is below two seconds. This is time to drop, not to fire a hit if done with live ammunition or simulator.

The focus needs to be on natural point of aim and wobble zone so the position can be shot from accurately. These drills should not be done for time initially, as the Soldier needs to be able to self-assess their positions. Begin by announcing each position and allowing plenty of time to assume it. As shooters improve, increase the tempo of the drill to assume positions faster. This can be incorporated while walking and rushing. Add variations to the call and use irregular intervals.

Drill I is Reload. Executed from load-bearing equipment, working on quickly and reliably reloading from various positions, such as standing, kneeling, and prone. Soldiers must be encouraged to adjust ammunition pouches to facilitate this. There will be variations between personnel. Uniformity should not be considered, only performance. For machine guns, this also includes a barrel change as appropriate.

The first step is to organize the ammunition pouches and magazines so they can be reached from various positions as done in Drill C. To conduct a reload, sweep from center to the next ammunition pouch.

If a reload is needed and there’s no magazine in the pouch, then sweep until the next available magazine in your load-bearing equipment is found. It’s important to set this up so the reload is efficient. Uniformity among Soldiers should not be considered, only performance.

Drill J is Clear Malfunction. The best approach is doing whatever is required to make the weapon functional. This requires understanding the cycle of function and knowing what to do with it. Overly-simple approaches that previously attempted to avoid learning this have been found to be ineffective. Any reference to a game played with a ball is wrong because no single response can address every possible malfunction type.

The problem with an overly-simple, stepped mechanical fix is that no single procedure or approach can fix every possible cause. The better solution is to understand the cycle of function and then do the simplest, fastest thing possible.

The most common malfunction is a failure to fire and the most common symptom is a tell-tale click when a bang is expected. The fastest means to reduce this problem is the best approach here. Let’s say our shooter here has a failure to fire. He attempts to shoot by applying smooth trigger pressure straight to the rear and gets a click. To reduce this stoppage, the fastest thing is likely to ensure the magazine is seated and run the bolt.

Another form of immediate action is to transition to a secondary weapon.

If immediate action fails and no secondary is available, remedial action is likely best served by clearing the weapon to find the problem. Perform an Unload/Show Clear. This also happens to be Drill K.

Drill K is Unload/Show Clear. This is another ‘administrative’ drill, but important. The Soldier needs the instilled habit of making their weapon safe and clear, both to an instructor and for their own situational awareness.

These drills only work if they’re done regularly. It’s recommended that active duty and mobilized personnel should be doing these at least once a week. That won’t be enough for a high level of skill but it will create solid familiarity. Done dry or with a simulator, they cost nothing and can be done right outside of the arms room, or at home with personally-owned firearms. As with the APFT, a 300 is not possible without on-going work. The same goes for weapons mastery.

Improving Marksmanship Programs

Words of wisdom from John Tate

  1. Get competition instilled at the unit level – then post level, etc. I put this first – because it is the most important factor. Getting leadership interested in crucial. Get awards and/or commendations for commanding officers of small units when their people shoot well. If the brass appears to care about something, their minions will too.
  2. Instill competition. Just like PT should be, consider every qual session to be competitive. Post scored and give some sort of prize/praise to the top shooters. Castigate those at the bottom.
  3. Promote self-training. Use on-duty time to show proper techniques (especially dry fire techniques), and have troops practice on their own time. Don’t soldiers work on PT on their own time? Also, don’t you still own boots 24/7? In my day (1960s, 1/2 a century ago) not only boots, but regulars were yours 24/7.
  4. Publish the comparative costs of shooting against other activities that require consumables … like jet fuel for aircraft, guided missiles, projectiles for armor and artillery. I think you can make the case that small arms ammo is cheap. And, if you can copy some of the laser simulation systems, you don’t even need ammo, no worry about lead poison, and no worry about negligent discharges.
  5. Consider a practice from WWI through the VietNam era: Use .22 LR and airguns.
  6. Use reduced size ranges & targets. For rifle, long ranges are hard to use. They take up lots of space and preparation/mainatenance. They require target pullers. They require time just walking back and forth from line to pits. Consider reduced range work. Putting bullets in the same hole at 1,000 inches equates to holding the 10-ring at 600 yds.

Hang Tough – Keep the Faith – Watch your 6.

2018 All Army results

Three Army Reservists had outstanding performances at the 2018 All Army Small Arms Championships. SSG Fuentes took 1st place Multi-Gun and was the High Reservist. 1LT Brotherston took 2nd in Multi-Gun.

brotherston rosendorn fuentes

SFC Rosendorn earned his final points needed to become a Distinguished Pistol Shot. SFC Parker also earned more rifle leg points.


For Team events, Army Reserve Careers Division led by SGM Mauer was the High Reserve team.

They were followed by USACAPOC (A) led by CSM Running.




#USArmyReserve #WednesdayWisdom @USArmyReserve #WeaponsMastery #WalkthroughWednesday

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4 Coaching

Coaching is the process of actively observing a shooter during the firing process to look for shooting errors that the firer themselves may not consciously know they are making. Marksmanship requires the consistent and proper application of the elements of employment. It is about doing the right thing, the same way, every shot. The small arms trainer is also the validation point for any questions during employment training. In most cases, once group training is completed, it will be the firer’s responsibility to realize and correct his own firing errors but this process can be made easier through the use of a coach.

There are Experienced coaches and Peer coaches. Although each should execute coaching the same way, Experienced coaches have a more thorough understanding of employment, are more personally skilled, and have more knowledge and practice in firing than the shooters they are coaching. Knowledge and skill does not necessarily come with rank or MOS, therefore Experienced coaches must demonstrate a heightened level of ability and this almost always requires successfully shooting something more stringent than routine qualification along with a formal instructor background. Personnel serving as experienced coaches should be carefully selected for their demonstrated firing ability as many inexperienced personnel will proclaim ability and expertise they don’t possess. Just as important is proven personal skill is the ability to convey information to firers of varying experience levels.

Experienced coaches are short supply throughout the Army as most personnel have never proven their skill beyond completing qualification. Even “expert” qualification results often fail to demonstrate genuine expertise. This lack of experienced coaches usually leads to one experienced coach watching multiple firers dependent upon the table or period of employment being fired. It often helps the experienced coach to make notes of errors they observe in shooters and discuss them after firing that group. It is often difficult for the coach to remember the errors that they observe in each and every firer.

Peer coaching, although generally not as effective as using an experienced coach, is still a very useful technique. Peer coaches are Soldiers coaching each other. Observing others and having others observe them increases the experience level of everyone. Initial attempts at helping another shooter will likely result in bad advice, such as things repeated from Basic training and other introductory experience, but trying to talk another shooter through the process while observing the results creates a feedback loop. This also helps bring observations to an experience coach. The act of coaching and observing others may help learn from mistakes and learn what works. Many people grasp instruction more deeply when they are coaching others than when they are simply told to do something. Most Soldiers will be limited by their level of training, which is limited to elementary introduction as found in basic training.

However, except for aiming, the peer coach can observe most of the important aspects of the elements of employment. To determine the unobservable errors of shooting, the coach and the firer must have an open dialog and there must be a relaxed environment for learning. The firer cannot be hesitant to ask questions of the coach and the coach must not become a stressor during firing.

Coaching Positions

The coach must have the ability to safely move around the firer to properly observe. There is no one ideal coaching position. The following will demonstrate the elements of shooting and how best to observe them as a coach.

For Stabilize, the coach observes how stable the shooter is by moving to different sides of the shooter. To observe the shooter’s non-firing elbow (to ensure it makes contact with the ground), the coach will need to be on the shooter’s non-firing side. To observe the cant of the weapon (the sights on the weapon should be pointing towards 12 o’clock position, not 11 or 1 o’clock positions), the coach will need to watch the relationship of the front sight to the barrel from behind the shooter. The coach should look for all the other aspects of good positions as outlined in chapter 6 of this publication. The coach should also observe the total amount of weapon movement on recoil. A good stable position will have minimal movement under recoil.

For Aiming, determine the aspects of the firer’s aiming (sight picture, sight alignment, point of focus) with a dialogue between the firer and the coach. Often, a shooter will not realize his aiming errors until he discovers them on his own. The only method a coach has to observe aiming errors is to use of an M16 sighting device but this device can only be used on rifles with carrying handle sights. Without the use of a sighting device, the coach must rely on drawings, discussions, or the use of an aiming card to determine where the firer is aiming on the target, his focus point during firing (which should be the front sight), and where his front sight was at the moment of firing in relation to the rear sight aperture and the point of aim on the target. The technique of having the firer call his shots should also be used. This technique involves calling the point on the target where the sights were located at the moment of firing and matching the point called with the impact locations on the target. Calling the shot helps the firer learn to focus on the front sight during the entire firing process. When optics are being used, the shooter can tell the coach where he was holding. This is of particular importance with the RCO. Coaches must insure the 300m aim point is used when zeroing at 25-m.

For Control, the ideal position to observe trigger control is from the non-firing side because the coach will have a better view of the speed of pull, finger position on the trigger, and release or pressure on the trigger after firing. The coach can look from behind the shooter to observe the barrel for lateral movement caused by slapping the trigger during firing.

Coaching Factors

All firing happens at the weapon. This means that the coach should be focused solely on the shooter during firing and not on what is happening down range. Do NOT look downrange.

There is no way for a coach to observe only the bullets impact on target and know what errors the firer made. The coach must watch the shooter during firing to determine errors and use the impacts to confirm their assumptions.

For a coach to properly observe all aspects of firing they must be able to observe the shooter, safely, from both sides and the back. There is no prescribed coaching position.

Coaching requires a relaxed atmosphere with open communication between the firer and the coach.

Finally, shooting errors are almost never caused by breathing, especially during zeroing and other slow fire shooting. Only an unskilled shooter and a poor coach insists this is a likely problem. Those proclaiming to “watch your breathing” should be excused from coaching as unskilled and assigned a detail away from the firing line so as to not contaminate the shooters with their faulty, unskilled assessments.

Shot Group Analysis

Shot group analysis involves the firer correlating the shots on paper with the mental image of how the shots looked when fired. An accurate analysis of the shot group cannot be made by merely looking at the holes in the paper. It is more important to observe the firer while they’re shooting than to try and analyze the target. All firing takes place at the weapon. The holes in the paper are only an indicator of where the barrel was pointed when the rifle was fired. When coaches are analyzing groups, they must question the firer about the group to make a determination of what caused the placement of the shots.

Observing the shooter must be accomplished before analyzing the target can become effective. Bullets strung vertically almost is never due to a breathing issue, nor do bullets strung horizontally absolutely indicate a trigger squeeze problem. Coaches must learn to identify shooter errors during firing and use the bullet’s impacts on target to confirm their observations.

There are often several firing errors that can be the cause of certain misplaced shots. The key to good coaching is becoming a shooting DETECTIVE. The coach needs to observe the shooter, question the shooter, look at the evidence down range, question the shooter again, make assumptions based upon the evidence available, and then act upon the evidence. Coach and shooter must have a free and open dialog with each other in a relaxed atmosphere.

If a Soldier learns to shoot poorly they will only be capable of shooting poorly.