Last night I ran across another thread over at Arfcom that I thought posed an interesting question. The poster asked members what skill level and standards do they think makes some one a competent and skilled “rifleman.” AS you know, this is an evergreen subject for me. For years I have pondered on this question and tried to have a framework of what i think makes some one a skilled rifleman. Below I am going to share some of the comments from the various worthies who gave their two cents in the thread for your consideration and discussion.
Before we get to that I wanted to set some parameters real quick for some reasons we will talk about in a second part. In this case lets think of Rifleman to be understood as skill with a rifle and ability to hit a target with a variety of rifles or even carbines. This ( for now) will not include skills or training that only defines the rifleman as a combat infantryman, i.e. small unit tactics etc. Also no military qual award that designates one a “rifleman” nor the use of an NRA skill level for something like service rifle or any highpower shooting sport. At least for now. In part 2 of this, I will give you my ideas of what abilities I personally consider a “rifleman” to have. SO lets take a look at some arfcom responses and as always I am eager to hear your thoughts in the comments because this time I will probably add them to my own in part 2.
So here we start off with the original posted questions
“What metrics would you use to gauge who is a good (not necessarily superior–but moderately accomplished/experienced) rifleman? Talking modern calibers here in a tight rifle. What position?
I’m thinking stuff like:
Be able to make a hit on a grapefruit, offhand, at 100yds.
Shoot a 2 MoA 3-shot group at 100yds from a field position given 2 attempts.
Hit a dinner plate at modest mid-range distances (say 400yds–something that requires correcting for elevation). “
1.” Be able to consistently hit a human torso sized target within the effective range of the rifle. Position is dictated by conditions (enemy fire, terrain etc) Prone is always superior for accuracy but not always available. “
2.” I like Pat McNamara’s BRM drill shot on B-8 centers at 50 yards.
5 rounds standing, 5 rounds sitting, 5 rounds kneeling, and 5 rounds prone. All four positions shot on their own target so you see what position needs work. No time limit.”
3.”Hitting a 10″ target at 100yd offhand.”
4.” From the Prone position, using Mark 1 Eyeball, I’ve hit ±85% (witnessed) at 400 yards”
5. “ Hitting what your aiming at makes for a good rifleman.” What seems like a smart ass remark really gets to the heart of the matter in my opinion
6. “Open sights. No scope. I’m classified as sharpshooter for NRA service rifle matches. 2 Bronze metals at Camp Perry for the Garand matches “ OK? very impressive for shooting known distance bullseye targets in a formalized sport with specialize equipment. Not so impressive in the real world though where targets are not in clearly marked lanes at exact known distance with sighter shots allowed before hand. Too specialized though I do respect the accomplishment.
7. ” Stop using groups for crying out loud.
What makes a “good” shooter? Hits on field targets in field conditions with no prior knowledge of course of fire and 1-2 rounds per target. Rating of “good” goes up as target size goes down and/or weapon system mismatch goes up. Higher rating for early hits. Start with torso targets and go smaller from there. Measures are relative to the conditions of the day and possible positions.
Some practical courses accomplish this measure, depending on level of gaming/comms/coordination possible between team members. Very few, if any “standardized” NRA games prepare shooters for these conditions, if you think about it. It’s really fun to watch top shooters with only NRA game or bench shooting experience show up to an event with these kind of practical penalties and get schooled by failure to read & adapt.” I like this guy’s thinking very much. Very much.
8. “My personal litmus test for myself is:
Pistol: Headshots at 10 yards, body shots on a 2/3rd USPSA steel target at 25 yards.
Rifle: Head shots at 25 yards, body shots offhand at 100 on a USPSA steel target, body shots prone out to point blank range on the 2/3rd size USPSA steel target.
This is what I consider the bare minimum of “good.” I know many folks who can do much better than that, but I also see even more people who struggle to shoot one foot groups at 50 from the bench with an AR15 ”
9. “From a “grab a gun” condition, be able to make the rifle ready and successfully engage a moving exposed human TGT within 50yds
* Same as above, on a partially exposed static human TGT after running to cover.
* First round hits on 18″ sils from kneeling position at 400yds
If you can do these things, you can fight, defend, and hunt – the 3 most practical uses for a rifle. “
10. “Be able to use their weapon to it’s maximum effective range in reasonable conditions and realistic positions. “They should be able to outshoot their rifle as a rack-grade. “
11 .“If you’ve never been an NRA-classified shooter (high master, master, expert, etc.) then chances are you’re not really fully developed.
A good rifleman? You need a reliable rifle, ammo, a sling/carrying strap, and cleaning gear at a minimum. It doesn’t matter what kind of rifle it is really. It must be sighted in and you must have a basic idea of its zero and it’s trajectory. You must be able to shoot from the bench, standing, prone, sitting, and crouching” ..No.
12. “A rifleman -He has a rifle when and where it is needed.
He knows how to use his rifle.
He can hit what needs to be hit when it needs to be hit.
He can get to where he needs to be to be effective, that includes running (or skiing).
He does the above while the adrenaline is rushing, his heart is pumping out of his chest and his lungs are sucking for air.”
OK, so there is some selected comments. Some good ones in there. I will link to the thread if you want to see them all, It’s a short 2 page thread. Let’s hear your comments and we will pick this up tomorrow or the next day for part 2.