Darryl Davis – On the Subject of Marksmanship

Rifle marksmanship is a civilian attribute which is alien to the military environment. It must be introduced into the military by force and can be kept in the military only by ongoing active measures, else it will be eradicated and replaced by equipment familiarity.

– 14th Iron Law of Marksmanship

The military does not teach rifle marksmanship. It teaches equipment familiarity. Despite what the officer corps thinks, learning to shoot a rifle is not like learning to drive a car. Instead, it is like learning to play the violin. You can have coherent-appearing results after equipment familiarity training, but to get the real results, you keep plodding on. The equipment familiarity learning curve comes up very quick, but then the rifle marksmanship continuation of the curve rises very slowly, by shooting one careful shot at a time, carefully inspecting the result, and the cause.

How are we doing with rifle marksmanship? By Vietnam, wasn’t everything beyond 200 meters abandoned to crew-served weapons?

During Vietnam, troops pulled back from the line for R&R were tested to reveal that they could, on average, pump out 300 rounds a minute at a target 50 meters away at a rifle range, and they would average one hit per minute. During the American Revolution, the enemy advised their officers that even at over 200 yards the American riflemen will hit with their first shot, so officers should conduct themselves accordingly. Also that these riflemen could reach as far as 300 yards.

As flintlock riflemen can pump out a maximum of only four shots per minute, it is obvious that Vietnam troopers have 75 times the firepower of the flintlock riflemen of the Revolution. This is in terms of muzzle statistics. In terms of target statistics, the flintlock shooter has four times the firepower of the M16 user because he has the skill to make every shot hit and the M16 user cannot hit more than once per minute.