Full-automatic: Why does it render gun owners stupid?

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“Let’s waste thousands of dollars on BATFE-restricted gear and ammo, and then destroy it for no reason. Everyone will love it!”

“This is a highly restricted, very expensive, difficult-to-obtain firearm. Let’s wreck it!”
“I don’t know what I’m doing, but the other idiots will love it!”

What I don’t understand is why someone would go through the hassle and expense to obtain Class 3 equipment while having no interest in learning gunnery or anything related to effective full auto use. It usually ends up being a big jerk-off giggle fest. Knob Creek is a stunning and sad example. Military training on this is rarely better, even though the principles are there to be learned by anyone literate enough to read them.

Myths about what is and isn’t suppressive fire are common.

Handheld full auto always sucks. I should put “almost” in there as absolute statements are always wrong (as the self-conflicting adage goes) because outliers and exceptions do exist. However, these are unicorns in this case. With the very rare exception of a very few highly-trained full-auto shooters, semi-auto fire is much more effective with handheld firearms. Basically, only people that compete in and win NFA submachine gun matches. Nobody in the military or police is this good and those that claim otherwise are breathing Dunning-Kruger graphs.

Side note: The first NFA match I attended was with a friend from my local USPSA club using his M1A1 Thompson. After looking at the courses, I asked if I could just shoot everything with the “Tommy gun” on the single (semi-auto) setting. “No,” I was told, “That would be cheating.”

Every class, match, or range event that tested this proved this true.

Handheld full auto fire is almost always less effective than aimed semi-automatic fire.

Acutal machine guns are a different matter but they are only effective when employed using gunnery concepts, tripods and T&Es, and a knowledgable crew. For all the bluster of full-auto fire, I still know of only one free, public video discussing this. Let me know if you can find another.

If you can find a better video giving a more thorough discussion of gunnery with machine guns, please share it!

What do you think? Why does full-auto fire render so many gun owners into idiots? Why aren’t people interested in fully-automatic firearms interested in learning how to employ them effectively?

Ash Hess: Army Marksmanship and MMTC


SFC Ash Hess (ret.) was one of the primary authors of the Army’s new Training Circulars. He was asked to speak before a recent graduating class at Marksmanship Master Trainer Course. Here’s a link to his original post and the transcript. Bold highlights were added to emphasize important points.


Speech for the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course

I want to start off by saying that I am honored and humbled to be here. When SFC Chain asked me to speak I checked to make sure he was messaging the right guy because honestly I never expected to receive that message. I immediately, upon that confirmation, jumped at the chance to speak to the graduates of the Master Marksmanship Trainer Course 03-18.

You see, the people in this room, guests, cadre and most importantly the graduates are the future of Army Marksmanship. One would be pretty naïve to assume that anyone could stand here and say that we don’t have issues in that realm. Five weeks ago, you may or may not have agreed that we are a couple of minutes of angle off across the Army.

During the course, you have learned better ways to shoot and train, things you never heard of, and things you learned in basic training and lost over the years. You slaughtered some sacred cows and destroyed perpetual myths centered on our service rifle. You are now part of a relatively small group of people in the Army that have attended an Army level class on marksmanship.

Until MMTC unveiled, the last formal, Army level marksmanship training was basic training. Think about the thousands of leaders and soldiers that have done nothing more than execute what their Drill Sergeants taught them over their careers with no chance of learning more.

If you were lucky, you had the privilege of attending one of the many Division Schools like I ran when I attended MMTC in 2015. While these schools were awesome training, they lacked one important element that MMTC does not. Army-wide recognition. We trained people and when they left the Division, that knowledge was often met with “that’s great, but here is how we do it. ”

When you walk out those doors you are not facing that challenge of trying to sell your skills. You have the backing of the Infantry School. You also have something else that is near and dear to my heart. That would be TC 3-22.9. By now you have been in that book and if you wondered who the good idea fairy was, well, that’s me.

That book was written under this simple guidance “write the book you needed while you were instructing” The course I ran for 10th Mountain graduated 1600 students under my watch. 1600 people learned and executed great things and went back to their units only to be hamstrung by an old book. My team and stakeholders from across the Army, active and reserve, set out to make a book that supported not only everything we have learned in the war but something that would support good marksmanship techniques and most importantly, teaching techniques.

We not only vetted the book within the Army, but we brought in several professional instructors from across the industry. Many of them have been teaching every weekend for 10+ years as their primary income. These pros helped us streamline the message and cleared up wording to make it teach more effectively. Believe that these guys are on your side and want nothing more than effective American Soldiers. Many times, business comes second and they gave the Army things that people would pay a lot of money to learn.

In our research, we found some things. Our weapons aren’t bad for what we are asking them to do. All of you fired issued weapons from five meters out to 600 meters. The ammunition is good enough for what we are asking it to do. You guys know this as you got hits. If the weapons and ammo aren’t the problem, what is?

Is it the caliber of Solider? If that were it, it wouldn’t cover 40 years of marginal performance

Is it the number of rounds we fire? Could be in some cases but if SFC Chain and the cadre had simply said, “here is 100,000 rounds; blast away” without any teaching would you guys have seen the improvement you made the past few weeks?

We decided that is was WHAT we were saying and how we were saying it. We relooked what we were providing to leaders and instructors to teach. Here at Fort Benning, you can’t present anything that isn’t in a book. No matter what we wanted to teach, the book was the book. I think we made big strides on fixing that.

So that leads to what you guys learned here in MMTC. For those in the room, you were successful. Some were not. The difference is the message that the cadre challenged and graded you on delivering. You had to group to higher standards than normal, get more precise zeros and get hits beyond what many of you were used to. You also had to teach back things that improved your own performance. You not only learned how to shoot better but learned how to make others shoot better, which is the big picture.

This is how we are improving Army Marksmanship. No more will you leave a school and not be able to use the information provided there because a leader asks one simple question, “What does the book say?” The knowledge passed on to you from the cadre cannot be undermined nor argued with by those who have always done it one way. When you go back to your units and later your next unit, that knowledge will still be relevant.

I close with a challenge. I challenge you, the MMTC graduates to transfer all the knowledge gained here to four people. You may get more than that but if you can get four people to the same level you are the result will be astounding. You and your subordinates need to get the message out to 1 million people as they fire 400 million rounds next year. You now know how to get all the rounds you and your Soldiers are allocated and the best ways to use them. Those rounds will be fired, we hope, but the question remains are they good rounds or are they fired the same way we always have done it.

I thank you for all you are doing and you have my support in your continued efforts.

MSG Norman Anderson: Being Of Service Rifle

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An interview with one of High Power’s greatest competitor and coach, MSG Norman Anderson.


3 Gun 4 Vets

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From MAJ Luke Gosnell

We finished up a 3-gun training class last night for two awesome Wounded Warriors who have for quite some time wanted to try the sport, but didn’t have the knowledge, equipment and friends that also wanted to try it with them. If any of you know of any vets that have not shot competitively before and would like to get free training with equipment and ammo provided, please share the link below or my contact info with them.



Combat and Competition


An overview of the similarities and differences of training for combat compared to competition as experienced by a combat veteran, sniper, drill sergeant, and competitive shooter with the U.S. Army Reserve Marksmanship Program.

An overview of the similarities and differences of training for combat compared to competition. Are there any actual bad habits or training scars caused by fixed, square range competition courses?

Here’s my take. I suspect “training scar” claims occur more from novice skill levels rather than learning a “bad” habit. When academy/basic training remains the totality of formal learning a person has, they’re more likely to repeat such things because it’s the only response available in a rather limited base of experience, especially when there is little to no history of performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results are measured and truly matter to them.

As the two military combat veterans in these videos explain, we shot a series of surprise courses at CAFSAC in the shoot houses at Connaught, Ottawa. Despite shooting these multiple courses after the fixed, square range courses (the sort that allegedly cause “training scars”) not a single competitor displayed any such mistake. None of the range officers reported anyone inadvertently remaining flat footed when they should have been moving, failing to use cover, unloading before finding and engaging targets, etc. It’s almost as if being more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand. Amazing!

Others have experienced the exact same thing:

Yep, despite not doing a “scan and assess” after shooting a stage, when it came time to replicate things in as real of environment as possible, I kept my guard up and kept treating it as “real”, even though it wasn’t.

It’s almost as if my mind and body know when I’m gaming, and when I’m not.



New Army Marksmanship Manual

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The Army’s newly-released rifle/carbine manual, TC 3-22.9:

Click to access TCx3-22.9.pdf

Approved for public release, distribution is unlimited.

Speaking of military marksmanship, the new rifle/carbine FM just dropped last night: https://rdl.train.army.mil/catalog-ws/view/100.ATSC/492701D5-25E9-40A7-9498-74C22831F268-1463059585416/TCx3-22.9.pdf

One thing that stood out right away is that it says in two places that trigger finger placement should be natural, since people have different hand sizes. Now where have I heard that before? Oh right, SARG, Kyle Defoor, Pat Mcnamara… Glad to see it finally make it into the official literature!

Still skimming through it to see what else is changed in there.

– Patrick T.

Cutting edge shooting technique and ideas that will be adopted by top private trainers and special operations a few years from now can be found in competition circles today. Big Army will adopt in a few decades later. Any “new” material in TC 3-22.9 was widely understood and used in the competitive communities decades ago.

This has been the trend since the mid 1800s when the Industrial Revolution made it practical to issue rifled firearms to the masses.

Highpower Service Rifle Living History

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Jim Laughland has more patches commemorating all the different years he’s shot at the National Matches than there are rounds fired in a LEG Match. The very friendly and excellent shooter shares some of his many stories and pictures in our interview below.


Service Conditions

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Personnel of low skill are fond of circulating the myth that competition has no value to real world use and that it is focused on competition-only equipment and technique.

Wrong. Examples of Service Conditions matches currently held throughout NATO, the Commonwealth, and other allied countries have been conducted for decades. Prior to this, shooting matches featured Skirmisher Matches dating back to the late 1800s. See the history of Bisley for examples. There are civilian versions of these matches in most countries where civilians can own centerfire rifles similar to those issued to military personnel. See DCRA (Dominion of Canada Rifle Association) main site (also here) and NZSRA (New Zealand Service Rifle Association) main site (also here)and SACRA (South African Combat Rifle Association) for examples.

Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship


The original link was here: http://www.benning.army.mil/mcoe/maneuverconference/ReadAhead/Marksmanship/Training%20How%20to%20Train%20Marksmanship%20Info%20Paper%20v06K.DOCX

However, the Army removed it. I anticipated this and saved a copy:

Shooting Team members have been saying this since about forever ago. I suppose it’s progress that somebody outside of the marksmanship programs finally noticed as well.

Subscribe now!

Note the authors of this paper failed to mention the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Training and Competitive Program (who largely staffed the Small Arms Readiness Group back when it used to be effective and relevant), the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, the All Guard Team, and the Guard’s state-level Small Arms Readiness Training Sections.

These exclusions are especially sad because the NGMTU, state-level SARTS, Guard and Reserve teams are officially declared by published military regulations. Most of the programs listed under paragraph 2d. are not.

I’d point out these exclusions just emphasize the paper’s point as even the authors of this document citing vast ignorance of effective marksmanship training are themselves ignorant of effective marksmanship programs throughout the Department of Army.

5 February 2014


Subject: Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

1. Purpose. To provide the current status

2. Facts. There is no current training available within the institutional base that instructs leaders specifically on “how to” instruct marksmanship. No formal instruction exists today that develops all leaders on how to adequately teach marksmanship skills, firing or engagement techniques, and methods.

a. NCOES. This includes the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) or any other course currently offered at the Maneuver Center of Excellence. No course includes instruction on the variety of training aids, devices, simulations, and simulators (TADSS) that support marksmanship instruction, or how to use them effectively to achieve any desired increase in Soldier performance.

b. U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School. The Drill Sergeant School does provide limited instruction on marksmanship training; however, it is tailored to the instruction modules for Initial Entry Training (IET) and is not available to all leaders Army-wide. In an Army Research Institute study, even the Drill Sergeant courseware required additional attention and that “a common theme identified was that many drill sergeants misunderstood parts of rifle marksmanship doctrine and / or inconsistently applied training techniques and procedures” (Army Research Institute, 2011).

c. Several courses, products, and publications have been developed in the past decade to support marksmanship training at the unit level. The Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE) course, the Small Arms Integration Book (SAIB), Short Range Marksmanship course, Long Range Marksmanship course, and Small Arms and Optics (SA-O) course, are examples of those previously developed and provided by the MCoE. These items are no longer supported or provided by the MCoE. Other Army organizations have filled the training gaps created by the loss of these items, such as the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU), the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), and PM Soldier, Sensors, and Lasers (PM SSL) which offer mobile training teams to small groups (10-20 Soldiers per class).

d. Operational and Army Reserve units have subsequently developed their own marksmanship programs to fill these training gaps, particularly as AMU, AWG, and PM SSL cannot meet the training demand. The following organizations have developed or are developing their own marksmanship instruction courseware to alleviate training shortcomings and the expected loss of MTT support by AMU and AWG in the future:

  1. 10th Mountain Division
  2. 82nd Airborne Division
  3. 101st Airborne Division
  4. 7th Army Training Command (USAREUR)
  5. Warrior Training Center (WTC, National Guard Bureau)
  6. Small Arms Readiness Group (US Army Reserves)

These courses vary in design, content, and duration, but each does reference and use FM 3-22.9, Basic Rifle Marksmanship and the specific weapon technical manuals.

e. The MCoE provided a restructured SAWE Program of Instruction (POI) to units as an exportable training package for unit use. This POI can be found on the Warrior University at: https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/training-wiki/-/wiki/main/sawe and can be accessed from any government computer (Maneuver Center of Excellence, 2013).

f. During the AEWE analysis in 2012, specific attention was made to the training shortfalls within Army units. “The Army should consider teaching not just marksmanship to its Soldiers, but formally developing marksmanship training skills for its NCOs” (Army Training Evaluation Center, 2012). The report went on to comment that senior Command Sergeants Major “provided an overwhelming support towards relooking at the Army’s training approach…of US Army NCOs and Officers” concerning instructing rifle marksmanship training skills to leaders.

g. In a white paper from the then 197th Brigade Commander, this position was further promoted to “aggressively pursue consolidation of the different marksmanship courses we currently offer to the field under the auspices of the Global War on Terror into one course that produces a Small Arms Master Gunner. This course needs to build upon the basic knowledge all NCOs get from attending IET, the Warrior Leader’s Course, the (then) Basic Noncommissioned Officer’s Course, and other specialized training they receive during the course of their careers” (Gregory C. Kane, 2009).

3. Recommendation: The Maneuver Center of Excellence evaluates its current curriculum structures and their inherent ability to support any additional training hours specifically dedicated to the instruction of how to train marksmanship. This includes:

  • NCOA assess feasibility of including additional instruction on small arms training.
  • USAIS assess feasibility of implementing stand-alone functional training course that is specifically geared to certification of instructors at Home Station for small arms weapons, optics, and illuminators.
  • NCOA inquire with the Sergeants Major Academy for the feasibility to incorporate small arms instructor training within the Warrior Leader’s Course.

Stephen Krivitsky/AZTD-TDD/6-1828

APPROVED BY: COL Richard Timmons


Army Research Institute. (2011). Research Product 2011-07, Rifle Marksmanship Diagnostic and Training Guide. Fort Benning: Army Research Institute (ARI).

Army Training Evaluation Center. (2012). Analysis Report for the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) – Bold Quest 2012. Fort Benning: U.S. Army.

Ellison IV, M. I. (2005). Current Inadequacy of Small Arms Training for all Military Occupational Specialties in the Conventional Army. Fort Leavenworth: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.


Gregory C. Kane, C. (2009). Forging a Coordinated Small Arms Training Strategy. Fort Benning: 197th Brigade.

Maneuver Center of Excellence. (2013). Small Arms Weapons Expert – Training and Educational Material. Retrieved FEB 03, 2014, from Warrior University: https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/training-wiki/-/wiki/main/sawe

Maneuver Center of Excellence, Directorate of Training and Doctrine. (2011). Analysis of Alternatives, Live Fire Training Strategies, Task 9. Fort Benning: Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Rand Corporation. (2013). Changing the Army’s Weapons Training strategies to More Efficiently Meet Operational Requirements (RESTRICTED DRAFT). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army.

Rob Mango: The Flow of Shooting

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Master Sergeant Rob Mango is a long time, national champion-level competition shooter, having shot with the USMC Rifle, USAMU Service Rifle, USAMU International Pistol, US Palma, USA Shooting (pistol), USAMU Service Pistol and all USAR Marksmanship Program teams.

Among his many marksmanship achievements, his most recent is winning the National Trophy Individual at Camp Perry during the 2013 CMP National Trophy Pistol Matches.

Here is what he has to say on “flow” as it pertains to a string of fire.


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