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  1. #1
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Marksmanship: Afghanistan and America

    I was on guard tower duty once again, and thumbing through a small-arms recognition training manual. The Army clearly has gun guys writing these things, since they like to drop in useless little historical tidbits about Mosin-Nagants and Lee-Enfields. Amusing.

    Anyway, the manual has these things to say about the marksmanship abilities of our enemies:

    Average Afghan fighters lack fire discipline and marksmanship skills, and most engagements with OMF feature relatively inaccurate, high-volume fire that could be described as "spray and pray."

    To date, OMF integration of snipers into...combat operations has been lacking.

    In the past, some Afghan fighters demonstrated an ability to fire accurately; however, since the start of OEF this has not been the case.

    OMF means "Opposing Military Forces."

    This is pretty much confirmed by the warfighters in my battalion, who have been in contact with the enemy many times. The only casualties my unit has sustained have been from IEDs rather than rifle fire. But this seems at odds with the tales I read growing up, about the mujaheddin freedom fighters cutting the Soviets to pieces with accurate rifle fire. Of course, in this war, the mujaheddin are thankfully on our side against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. So it seems that all the disciplined Afghan riflemen are either retired or on our side.

    I have often seen Afghan kids hunting small game with air rifles, and seen a few very good shots made in the hunting fields. As well, the one ANP guy I shot with was a skilled shooter. But apparently rifle marksmanship is a dying art in Afghanistan, if our enemies are any yardstick.

    I got to thinking about how this might be true in America, as well. It seems like most of the current rifle passion is going toward the latest neutered sturmgewehrs - ARs, AKs, SIG556s, Masadas, P90s, whatever. These are basically rifles meant for fast shooting at relatively close ranges.

    These are very good weapons for self-defense, of course, where the shooting is close and fast. Yet even in defense, rifles must be used with extreme care and caution due to their tremendous power and penetrative capabilities, so we still must shoot very accurately.

    Hunting demands good accuracy in the interests of humane kills. Rifles used in defense of liberty will require more accuracy than fast shooting.

    Are we, like the Afghans, steadily losing sight of the larger purpose of the rifle - precise application of power at long range - in favor of using semiautos basically like big pistols?
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  2. #2
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    American culture tends to favor those who take the easy way out. V8s are easy power, but who cares about gas mileage? America invented the V8. Automatic transmissions are easy shifting, just put it in D and slam the gas. America invented the automatic. Riding lawn mowers are easier on the legs. America invented the riding lawn mower.

    Don't get me wrong...I'm proud to be an American, and I'm very thankful I have the freedoms and priviledges that go along with being an American. However, many Americans, IMO, place lower and lower value on hard work, spending time and energy when it's not needed, etc. Sure, I fall into that category...I drive to class instead of walking a mile, I have pizza delivered to me so I don't have to leave my room to get it, and I use a 16' retractable leash on my dog so I don't have to stay within six feet of her. Luxury is something Americans have, and relish to the fullest extend. And there's nothing wrong with that, but consequently, the lack of need to put forth effort for a lot of tasks has plagued many Americans with pure laziness. And I don't see how that wouldn't bleed over into the firearms category. It's much easier to spray 30 rounds in someone's direction and hope that a few hit versus aim carefully and use one round. And if the spray-and-pray works, that's what will be used. I truly hope firearms that can fire more than one shot per trigger squeeze are never allowed for hunting...

  3. #3
    babs's Avatar
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    Wouldn't be much left that's worth eating of the deer, for sure.
    I'm a one-shot kinda guy from a tree-stand, if I can help it.

    Though for a home intruder, I'd probably go the expense of a couple extra rounds, just to make sure... But with the same attention to placement as if I had to rely on just one.. If I be so specific in that situation. Though not concerned about messing up a shoulder or tenderloin, for sure, compared to a deer-delski.

  4. #4
    dallaswood43 is offline Junior Member
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    hunters

    i think hunters generally still practice marksmanship. i know in the wide open western states where mule deer and elk are primary hunting targets the majority of hunters still use bolt action rifles and the average distance of a shot is fairly long. shot placement is emphasized due to the size of the animals as well. when i go shooting i like to take a shotgun with a clay pigeon thrower my handgun and a 22 to practice plinking with the rifle. it gets a little spendy to take out the 30-06 just for target shooting though. i've read that AR 15 model rifles can be made to fire accurately up to 1000 yards so that would be excellent shooting by any measure.

  5. #5
    babs's Avatar
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    Quite long distances actually and you're right.. generally high-power bolt actions.. My whitetail gun here in the south is a .308 which I love.. Out west, .300's and .338's aren't uncommon to reach way out and touch some elk a whole ridge over.. Lobbing lead I guess you could say.. And even at those 600+ yard distances, they can still knock down a 1500+ lb elk..

    mmmmmm...

    Just thinking I might have to raid my Dad's cooler and see if he's got anything left that used to own antlers and could be thrown in a roast bag with some carrots, onions, celery, garlic, etc then into an oven.

    Ok.. It's lunch time.. back soon.

  6. #6
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    MLB
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    I think the declining study of marksmanship is contributed to by a few things. As fewer and fewer veterans are around (no draft for many years), fewer are trained with firearms. This was likely the first intro to firearms many had.

    A longer range look suggests that it may be because it has little practical use from day to day. Long ago, hunting was a common way to get meat. Most men & women today could change thier own oil if they had to. We generally don't need to be able to shoot in today's society though.

    Makes me wonder if at the height of Roman civilization, that citizens lamented the common man's lack of sword handling skills.

  7. #7
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    I'd have to say that assault weapons bans and the threat thereof are big advertising vehicles for 'black' rifles. Better get yours quick or your ability to buy one will be gone forever....

    I'll admit this and a little nostalgia played a factor in getting my DSA FAL clone since I prefer the taste of Elsie over Bambi.


  8. #8
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Yes, I agree that increasing urbanization and the lack of a need to hunt will probably spell the end of real riflery in America. I further agree that the AWB pushed black rifles to heights of popularity they wouldn't have otherwise had. I also think the constant TV images of M4-armed soldiers in the last six years have affected the market.

    Still, when I go to public ranges or out in the desert, I always see guys hosing with ARs and AKs, hitting little but burning a lot of ammo and making a lot of noise. I'm sure they're having fun, and it's okay with me, but it just seems like they couldn't actually use a rifle for any practical purpose. Then again, as several people have basically pointed out, most people no longer actually need a rifle for any practical purpose.

    As for me, I sold all my black rifles since I don't really have any use for them. Obviously I have read too much Jeff Cooper.
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  9. #9
    submoa is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    As for me, I sold all my black rifles since I don't really have any use for them.
    Depends on your taste in black rifles. The way I figure it, 7.62 NATO is .308 Win, an eminently practical 'sporting' round (leaving no hiding behind cars, or cinder block walls... try that with a 5.56). Tuned correctly, FALs are great hunting rifles. At least that's how I rationalize it.

  10. #10
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by submoa View Post
    Depends on your taste in black rifles. The way I figure it, 7.62 NATO is .308 Win, an eminently practical 'sporting' round (leaving no hiding behind cars, or cinder block walls... try that with a 5.56). Tuned correctly, FALs are great hunting rifles. At least that's how I rationalize it.

    I don't expect to be in any running shootouts where I have to blast through cars or cinder blocks to claim my opponents. I'm not a cop or an action hero, just a regular guy. I suppose if - in some parallel "SHTF" universe - I needed to do that, my Garand would serve.

    I am not really fond of carrying anything as heavy as a FAL for hunting, and a year of carrying an M4 has really made me hate the unhandiness of protruding magazines and pistol grips.

    But I try not to rationalize. I have the Garand just because I like it, not because I might be an extra in Band of Brothers II.
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  11. #11
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    Saw a very interesting "Weaponology" show which featured an HK rifle.. The show was about weapons of the Green Beret's. I guess it was some kind of carbine.. (ok, yeah I don't know what a "carbine" is.. Ignorance admitted) But anyway this gun was amazing.. He unloaded a full magazine and was able to actually touch the barrel and pull the bolt/slide? and it wasn't even too hot to touch.. Don't know what model it was though. Of topic I know but I just found that amazing... I guess HK is a pretty serious gun designer, though I hadn't looked too closely at their pistols as they're freakin' pricey out the yin yang.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by babs View Post
    Saw a very interesting "Weaponology" show which featured an HK rifle.. The show was about weapons of the Green Beret's. I guess it was some kind of carbine.. (ok, yeah I don't know what a "carbine" is.. Ignorance admitted) But anyway this gun was amazing.. He unloaded a full magazine and was able to actually touch the barrel and pull the bolt/slide? and it wasn't even too hot to touch.. Don't know what model it was though. Of topic I know but I just found that amazing... I guess HK is a pretty serious gun designer, though I hadn't looked too closely at their pistols as they're freakin' pricey out the yin yang.
    Well, from what you say, my first guess would be the H&K G36 rifle/carbine. The pic below shows both; the carbine is in the foreground with two rifles in the background:



    BTW, a carbine is to a rifle as a compact is to a full-size handgun. It is simply a smaller version with similar space and weight advantages, similar aim and recoil disadvantages. Examples in the U.S. arsenal would be the M16 rifle and the M4 carbine:



    The M4 in this pic is the third one In this case the M4 just takes the M16 receiver and puts a shorter barrel and stock on it, but other carbines, like the M1 carbine from WWII, are different designs versus their full-size counterparts like the M1 Garand.

  13. #13
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    Unfortunately, diminished long-range accuarcy has as much to do with urban sprawl as anything else. I'd LOVE to go stretch the legs of my 308 Ruger M77 somewhere within an hour's drive of my house, but it doesn't exist. I shot a lot of "long range" rifle shooting growing up, at 200, 300, and 400 yards. My Dad had a Rem Model 700 .243 "Varmit-Master" with a bull barrel, and reach-out-and-touch-someone accuarcy at well over 300yds. We proved it frequently on pesky woodchucks from road-side ditches all summer long. The farmers hated them, because the huge holes they dug tipped over hay wagons...

    Zapping a woodchuck (10-12" tall) at 300 yards with a slight breeze, REALLY tunes your trigger skills. But with a 150gr boat-tailed spitzer out of my .308 at high pressure reload velocities... not much left to eat... hahaha. Pest control.

    Not much of that fun left in central FL...

  14. #14
    babs's Avatar
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    Member of the VSCA are ya?? Varmint Sniper's Club of America.

  15. #15
    DJ Niner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    (snip)

    I have often seen Afghan kids hunting small game with air rifles, and seen a few very good shots made in the hunting fields. As well, the one ANP guy I shot with was a skilled shooter. But apparently rifle marksmanship is a dying art in Afghanistan, if our enemies are any yardstick.

    I got to thinking about how this might be true in America, as well. It seems like most of the current rifle passion is going toward the latest neutered sturmgewehrs - ARs, AKs, SIG556s, Masadas, P90s, whatever. These are basically rifles meant for fast shooting at relatively close ranges.

    These are very good weapons for self-defense, of course, where the shooting is close and fast. Yet even in defense, rifles must be used with extreme care and caution due to their tremendous power and penetrative capabilities, so we still must shoot very accurately.

    Hunting demands good accuracy in the interests of humane kills. Rifles used in defense of liberty will require more accuracy than fast shooting.

    Are we, like the Afghans, steadily losing sight of the larger purpose of the rifle - precise application of power at long range - in favor of using semiautos basically like big pistols?
    Mike, I've also seen what you have described above, but the young-ish Delta-Force-wannabees aren't the only ones with rifles/carbines in America.

    First, it's been my experience that many/most serious long-distance shooters have a dedicated range or shooting area that is not readily open to, or seen by, the public (even other shooters). Long-distance marksmanship is serious business, and is difficult if not impossible to cultivate these types of skills while working around the crowd at the average public range facility; thus, you don't see these folks there. As said by JeffWard, above, the difficulty of finding decent long-range shooting facilities does have an impact on some shooters; but personally, I'd really like to see every serious firearms enthusiast have at least one well-sighted-in long-range weapon in the closet/safe, even if it's just a deer rifle.

    Second, I have to take minor exception to the notion that ARs can't be accurate (lumping them in with AKs! The horror! ). If you get a chance upon your return to the fine US of A, take an hour or two to observe a local hi-power rifle match, and the kind of results that can be had with a finely tuned AR loaded with low-drag bullets. If you aren't familiar with HP rifle guns/game, those little .223 mouse-guns might amaze you with their sub-MOA (Minute-Of-Angle for those unfamiliar with the term; about 1" @ 100 yards) accuracy. Less modified than the HP-shooter's guns, I have a 24-inch barreled hunting AR (photo available for viewing in the HGF Photo Gallery):
    http://www.handgunforum.net/gallery/...43&ppuser=1533
    that will shoot under one MOA out to 200 yards (5-shot groups); around one MOA at 300 yards; and will still keep 3 shots on a standard 9" paper plate at a laser-measured 440 yards (one-quarter of a mile) from a bipod-supported prone position. Other than a free-floated barrel, a match trigger, a Ballistic Plex scope, and some high-quality ammo, it is still basically a normal AR. I've seen many near-stock M1As and HK91s that would compare to it, accuracy-wise, and many of the fine FALs and other black rifles aren't far behind. Even most 16" AR carbines will shoot under 2" groups at 200 yards with their favorite ammo and a decent driver doing the bullet-launching.

    As far as the owners' shooting skills, well, perhaps there will be a silver lining in the big dark cloud of high ammo prices. Maybe when every pull of the trigger costs 3-5 times what it did 2 years ago, then some of these rifle/carbine shooters will stop "blasting" and start making every shot count. Col Cooper said it best (and I think I've heard it repeated here, by someone) -- "The purpose of shooting is hitting."
    Last edited by DJ Niner; 02-16-2008 at 04:01 AM.

  16. #16
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    DJ Niner, I am in agreement with almost everything you wrote.

    I have seen match-tuned ARs turn in stellar performances in High Power, but considering the number of target-grade ARs versus fighting-oriented M4geries - and similar guns - I see at SHOT Show (unless something radically changed in 2008), I have to think the Delta-wanna-bes are far more numerous than the serious High Power competitors. At least the market would seem to indicate that.

    I wonder what percentage of shooters actually belongs to a club where they can shoot at more than 100 yards. I suspect it is a small minority. If it is, then most of those accurate M1As and HK91s aren't being used to anything close to their full potential.

    Anyway, not bagging on American shooters or their choice of rifles. As long as people are having fun with their guns, I'm all for it. Just seems like the emphasis is changing to a "big pistol" mentality versus the more traditional uses of the rifle. As you and JeffWard pointed out, this may be largely because it's so hard to find a range with good long-distance facilities, at least in the east.

    Naturally, I agree wholeheartedly with your Jeff Cooper quote.
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  17. #17
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    I think the reason being, is that command sees battles moving more to the urban enviroment and the ranges aren't as far as say in the open field. We adopted the M-16 during Vietnam which was a jungle environment. I think your right on the lack of focus on marksmanship and more focus towards laying down fields of fire, which I believe is somewhat wrong in the fact that in an urban environment our shots should be more accounted for due to the fact that not everyone is the enemy.

  18. #18
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    My observation was more about civilians, but I get your point.

    On the other hand, American soldiers generally still shoot a whole hell of a lot better than the hajis on an individual basis. The skill of our snipers is absolutely fantastic, and our regular line-company Joes are a lot better on the whole than the guys they face through their Aimpoints. Army rifle training is far from perfect, but it seems to serve the purpose well enough.

    But really I was talking about civilians, for whom real-life occasions to use semiauto rifles as big pistols would seem to be few and far between. Rapid fire is fun for a lot of people...but sometimes I think a lot of us are "practicing" for the least likely scenario that might call for a rifle.
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  19. #19
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    Very True, I personally carry a 25-06 for most of my hunting and shooting, but I also have a 300 Weatherby that was passed down to me by my father which has a 30" barrel on it. Its great for hunting canyons while glassing but gets a little heavy when doing a lot of walking so I usually take the other rifle because it is a M700 Remington Mountain Rifle with the Titanium Action it weighs in at 7 1/2 lbs with scope and 24" barrel. The trajectory of both are about the same but the 300 has a bit more horsepower. I recently got rid of my AR because my friend wanted one really bad so I gave it to him as a Birthday gift. I may get another one but I use one mostly for Varmints like prarie dogs so I may get it chambered in 204 Ruger and just put it together my self. Saves me a bit of money.

  20. #20
    txpete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    I was on guard tower duty once again, and thumbing through a small-arms recognition training manual. The Army clearly has gun guys writing these things, since they like to drop in useless little historical tidbits about Mosin-Nagants and Lee-Enfields. Amusing.

    Anyway, the manual has these things to say about the marksmanship abilities of our enemies:

    Average Afghan fighters lack fire discipline and marksmanship skills, and most engagements with OMF feature relatively inaccurate, high-volume fire that could be described as "spray and pray."

    To date, OMF integration of snipers into...combat operations has been lacking.

    In the past, some Afghan fighters demonstrated an ability to fire accurately; however, since the start of OEF this has not been the case.

    OMF means "Opposing Military Forces."

    This is pretty much confirmed by the warfighters in my battalion, who have been in contact with the enemy many times. The only casualties my unit has sustained have been from IEDs rather than rifle fire. But this seems at odds with the tales I read growing up, about the mujaheddin freedom fighters cutting the Soviets to pieces with accurate rifle fire. Of course, in this war, the mujaheddin are thankfully on our side against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. So it seems that all the disciplined Afghan riflemen are either retired or on our side.

    I have often seen Afghan kids hunting small game with air rifles, and seen a few very good shots made in the hunting fields. As well, the one ANP guy I shot with was a skilled shooter. But apparently rifle marksmanship is a dying art in Afghanistan, if our enemies are any yardstick.

    I got to thinking about how this might be true in America, as well. It seems like most of the current rifle passion is going toward the latest neutered sturmgewehrs - ARs, AKs, SIG556s, Masadas, P90s, whatever. These are basically rifles meant for fast shooting at relatively close ranges.

    These are very good weapons for self-defense, of course, where the shooting is close and fast. Yet even in defense, rifles must be used with extreme care and caution due to their tremendous power and penetrative capabilities, so we still must shoot very accurately.

    Hunting demands good accuracy in the interests of humane kills. Rifles used in defense of liberty will require more accuracy than fast shooting.

    Are we, like the Afghans, steadily losing sight of the larger purpose of the rifle - precise application of power at long range - in favor of using semiautos basically like big pistols?

    mike first as kind of a new guy here I thank you for your service to our country.
    I ended up with almost 21 years all air cav.

    I hate to say to but times have changed here in the states.when I was growing up as a kid we had the boys club and sat morning we had rifle training with military 22's using our own range.we as kids were taught how to shoot the old sav and h&r's will military peep sights.it was alot of fun and well you had to wait on a list to get in.
    today those days are gone and it seems forever.the anti-gun and liberals here would freak today if this was still happening at the boys club.
    so today when a young boy get to shoot its probley with a 10-22 ruger and a dad that keeps filling the 10-50 mags and the boy gets to just blast away.I see it all the time at the range.there isn't any training going on cheek weld,breathing and proper sight picture or "how" to use a sling.iron sights nope its a scope it would seem that iron sights are part of the past also.
    after I retired I volunteered at the local range as a RO a few days a week.if it wasn't busy I got to shoot for free.
    it was endless there the guys that came out to the range totin their ar sks and ak47s.most would show up with a ammo can full and try and blast off as many rd's as fast as they could then walk out to 25-50 meter line to check targets.if they got M.O.R.(minute of russian 6'2") they were happy.
    these same guys were would watch me shooting my finn M-39 at 150 meters popping a coke can and were shocked.
    today it would seem most are just not into accuracy but just blasting away and looking kool.pretty sad stuff imho.I do think it goes back to the kid with the 10-22 scope and no training. I am sure the members here don't fall in that group I am talking about.
    again mike thank you for your service keep your head down and hurry home and god bless.

    pete
    txpete along time ago

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