MMG RANGE COURSES AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
1. This appendix contains the instructions essential for firing the Vickers Machine Gun and should be read in conjunction with Small Arms Training, Vol V, War Supplement, Small Arms Ranges Layout, Safety and Equipment 1945.
2. Range Practices 1 to 9 will be fired during the training of recruits and thereafter such practices as may be required for further training as circumstances permit and ammunition allows.
3. Subject to the soldier passing tests of Elementary Training Nos. 1 – 11 as laid down in Lesson 60 he will be practised in Parts III and IV and also be eligible to be tested in the Skill-at-Arms practices as laid down in Appendix III.
4. The training value obtained from firing with ball ammunition will depend on the thoroughness with which the preliminary training has been carried out.
Particular attention is directed to the following:-
- (a) Tests of elementary training.- Range practices are a waste of time and ammunition unless those taking part have reached a certain standard of efficiency.
- The tests of elementary training give the required standard. They are designed to:-
- (i) Ensure that men have reached an efficient standard before they begin range practices.
- (ii) Prevent any detail of elementary training being over-looked.
A record of the results of individual tests will be kept by company commanders and inspected periodically.
It is important that teaching should not be confused with testing. In the former, men are instructed by explanation and demonstration, following by execution; in the latter, men are questioned or ordered to carry out a certain test, after due warning, without assistance, and they either pass or are put back for further instruction. The conditions of each test will be explained to individuals before it is carried out.
5. An officer will normally supervise the firing point at all times, but in exceptional circumstances where no officer is available, commanding officers may give authority for supervision by warrant officers, or, if they are not available, by qualified NCOs not below the rank of sergeant. Duties in the butts may be carried out by NCOs.
The supervising officer, warrant officer, or NCO is responsible that range standing orders, particularly with regard to safety, are complied with.
6. Exercises with ball ammunition on the field firing range are the culmination of weapon training. The field firing range provides conditions most nearly akin to war and all shooting on other ranges will be regarded merely as a means to obtain efficiency in this final test.
Officers responsible will visit the range and prepare the practices, having regard to the lessons to be taught, target facilities, safety precautions and ammunition available. The value of the exercise will depend on sound preparation, clear explanation to those taking part, and a well-conducted criticism at the conclusion. Simple problems should be designed do that all actions of the fire unit are such as would be possible and likely in war.
Officers or non-commissioned officers will be detailed to each fire unit to watch its action and act as umpires, they should conform to the movements of the section. They will be responsible to the officer superintending for safety precautions, but, apart from ensuring that these are observed, they will not interfere with the actions of firers or leaders.
Times taken to pick up a target and bring it under effective fire should be recorded and the number of hits obtained also checked.
At the conclusion, a conference will be held. The officers or NCOs who accompanied each sub-unit as umpires should deal with detailed points. The superintending officer, after obtaining the necessary information from the butts and from the umpires, should explain the enemy action, comment on the means taken to combat it, and bring out the main lessons of the exercise.
Exercises should be restriced to sections and platoons.
- (a) Firing will not take place until the danger flags are hoisted and look out men posted according to the bye-laws and standing orders.
- (b) A red danger flag will be hoisted at the butts as a warning to cease fire. The flag will be kept up until the whole of the butt party is under cover. No one will leave the butts until the cessation of fire is required, the superintending officer at the firing point will normally give the order.
- (c) A red flag will be hoisted at the firing point when no firing is taking place. It will always be hoisted when the danger flag is flying at the butts.
- (d) No one, except the firers, the instructors and the officers on duty, will be allowed on the firing point.
- (e) If firing is suspended during a practice, or whenever the danger flag is hoisted at the butts, locks of machine guns will be removed from the lock guides (guns clear).
- (f) No one will be in front of the feed block when the gun is firing.
- (g) After firing, live rounds will be separated from empty cases and collected, under the orders of the superintending officer.
- (h) An officer will inspect all guns and equipment before they are removed from the firing point, to ensure that they are unloaded and that the men are not in possession of ammunition. A further inspection will take place before the company or party leaves the range, and AF B 159A will be completed.
- (j) Repairs and replacements will not be carried out until a gun is clear. No one except the gun numbers authorized to be on the firing point by the conditions of the practice will be permitted to touch the gun without permission when a stoppage occurs.
- (k) No guns will be loaded without orders from the superintending officer.
- (l) Drill cartridges will not be taken on the range, except for use in stoppage practices. In this case the drill cartridges will be taken to and from the range under the orders of the company etc, commander.
8. 30-yards range.
- (a) No more than four machine guns will be fired at the same time on the standard 30 yards range.
- (b) During the firing of machine gun practices, the superintending officer may make special arrangements to call those waiting to fire up to a position from which they can hear the instruction and criticism, but even then they must be at least five yards in rear of the firer.
- (c) No target will be placed within four feet of the sides of the bullet catcher.
- (d) Representative targets will be placed at the bottom of the bullet catcher.
- (e) Landscape targets will be placed so that the skyscreen is at the bottom of the bullet catcher and the picture below it.
- (f) Steel plates and moving targets are not allowed on a 30-yards range.
|1||Service bursts||Stop butts||50||Aim: To give the firer experience in firing service bursts.
||It should be explained that this is the normal burst on Service, though such bursts are not fired during Part I.|
|2||Application of service bursts
||3 coloured plates||75||Aim: To give the firer further practice in the application of service bursts, also to give him confidence in himself and the weapon.
||This practice should be carried out as soon as the firer has had practice in Lessons 35 and 52.|
||Landscape Tgt. See details of MMG tgts Fig II.||75||
|3||Traversing||Horizontal and oblique lines on a white screen. See details of MG targets serial No. 2||100||Aim: To practise the firer in the regulation tap for traversing a horizontal and an oblique target.
|4||Indirect fire practice||White screen with aiming mark. See Details of MMG Targets Serial No. 1||15||Aim: To practise the firer using the dial sight.
||Immediation Action (Day)||White screen with aiming mark.||20||Aim: To practise immediation action by day.
||Accuracy in relaying will be judged from the size of the complete group.|
||Immediate Action (Night)||Plain white screen||20||Aim: To practise immediate action by night.
|Total Part I||355|
|6||Registration||Prepared patch on stop butts||75||Aim: To register the correct range and wind allowance before applying fire.
||If observation of strike is difficult, the position of the MPI of each burst, with reference to the centre of the patch, will be signalled from the butts on a 4 foot target hoisted for this purpose.|
|7||Obscuration of target||4 feet||25 to be fired in one burst||Aim: To test the man in engaging a target using an aiming mark.
|8||Tapping Right and Left||Coloured screen. Details of MG targets. Serial No. 4||125||Aim: To test the practical application of fire on a target of little width.
|9||Service application||4 feet||75||Aim: To test the firer in mounting his gun in the lowest service position and engaging a fleeting target.
|Total Part II||300|
|Serial No.||Name||Details||Remarks||Practices for which required|
|1||White screen with black aiming mark||Dimensions about 3 ft 6 ins long by 2 ft 6 ins high||
||4 and 5(a)|
|2||White screen with horizontal and oblique black lines||Dimensions of screen about 3 ft 6 ins long by 2 ft 6 ins high. For details of lines, see Fig 1||
|3||Prepared patch on stop butts||4 ft square prepared with cinders and sand to give observation of strike. One metal plate in centre as aiming mark||If observation of strike cannot be obtained as many plates as are desired may be used provided the area is not greater than 4 ft square||6|
|4||Coloured screen||24 ft long and 6 ft high, divided into three equal sections of 8 ft. Centre section coloured grey. Flank sections white.||These targets are most conveniently constructed in three sections each 8 ft long and placed in sockets in stop butts||8|
|5||4 ft||4 ft classification target||7 and 9|
PARTS III AND IV
FIRE CONTROL AND TACTICAL EXERCISES WITH AMMUNITION
1. If time and ammunition are available the Parts III and IV of the medium machine gun course should be fired.
2. Field firing ranges will always be scarce, and it is essential that the time spent upon them is not wasted.
Very careful previous reconnaissance by the commanders concerned is therefore necessary.
3. Battle order will be worn by all ranks taking part in Parts III and IV.
4. The aims of this part are:-
- (a) To practise fire unit commanders and their understudies in obtaining fire effect rapidly, by direct and indirect means, by day and by night, and in making corrections from observation of strike.
- (b) To exercise the personnel in section and platoon drill, fire discipline, and the maintenance of the guns in action.
- (c) To practise rangetakers in taking ranges and in observation of fire.
- (d) To cultivate team work in the fire units.
- (e) If time and ammunition allow to stage demonstrations of fire control, beaten zones etc.
5. In sub-alloting the available ammunition, consideration will be given to the following:-
- (a) The machine gun is primarily a direct fire weapon. Therefore the bulk of the ammunition will be allotted to direct fire exercises.
- (b) A high average standard of efficiency is to be aimed at, and not the training of a few experts. Consequently every potential fire unit commander should be exercises, and the Numbers 1 and 2 at the guns frequently changed over.
- (c) The ammunition available may not be sufficient for the platoon to carry out all the methods of indirect fire.
When firing indirect it may be necessary, owing to a shortage of ammunition, to fire with the two flank guns of a platoon only though the whole of the drill should be carried out by the centre guns.
- (d) The value to be obtained from the exercises is greatly increased if the fire controller is able to observe the strike of the bullets. Observer and tracer ammunition, when available, are a useful guide as to whether or not fire effect has been obtained.
- (e) Continued repetition of Part III exercises will not produce results in proportion to the expenditure of ammunition, especially if conditions where observation of strike is not possible.
Once the NCOs and men have been exercises in fire control and fire discipline in accordance with these notes, further ammunition available for Part III is best expended in exercises on a competition basis.
- (f) Demonstrations in methods of fire control, trajectories, beaten zones, safety limits, etc, are a valuable means of teaching the characteristics of the weapon. Such demonstrations require a proportion of tracer ammunition. If tracer ammunition is scarce, priority should be given to fire control exercises and not to demonstrations.
- (g) Every effort will be made to produce conditions resembling, as far as possible, those of active service. Where departure from service positions is unavoidable the reasons must be fully explained to those under instruction to prevent false lessons from being learnt.
- (h) Some of the sercises should begin with the guns on the carriers at the RV, so that the fire unit can be practised in the procedure for coming into and out of action.
- (j) It is suggested that as many as possible of the following should be exercised as fire controllers:-Direct fire
- .- Five per section, ie. section commanders, Nos. 1 and two others (preferably to include the rangetaker).
- .- Two per platoon, ie. platoon commander and platoon sergeant.
6. Before the day of firing.
- (a) The platoon commander carries out a reconnaissance, and selects firing areas to be used by the platoon for direct and indirect fire.
- (b) The platoon commander decides on the targets to be engaged by each fire controller and the stage from which each exercise will begin. Targets should be selected mainly in areas which are likely to give observation of strike, and should vary in shape and range to bring out the various methods of fire.
Each exercise will be designed to bring out a definite lesson.
- (c) Two range cards will be prepared for each firing area, one for use by the officer conducting the exercise and the other for the fire controller, when it is desired that he shall commence the exercise with a range card already prepared.
7. On the day of firing – Direct fire.
- (a) The platoon commander describes the arc of fire, safety arrangements, etc. All personnel to be exercised as fire controllers then assemble under the platoon commander and the remainder of the platoon under the platoon sergeant.
- (b) As far as possible the personnel of each section should be exercised together. Each fire controller should work with his own rangetaker, though all rangetakers of the platoon should be exercised in observation of fire.
- (c) The platoon commander selects the fire controller to be exercised, and indicates by means of a director the target to be engaged. The fire controller then proceeds to engage the target, his actions and orders being watched and heard by the other fire controllers. At the conclusion of the exercise the platoon commander discusses and comments on the action and orders of the fire controller. It may sometimes be advisable to stop the exercise temporarily to discuss certain points.
- (d) At the same time the platoon sergeant details the necessary gun numbers, who are frequently and systematically changed to ensure that they are all exercised. Throughout the exercise he takes charge of the spare gun numbers with whom he discusses, and comments on, the action of those actually manning the guns.
8. On the days of firing – Indirect fire.
- (a) The procedure for exercising the platoon in indirect fire is the same as for direct fire as detailed in para 7 above.
- (b) All rangetakers not actually being exercised assemble under a qualified instructor and practise observation of fire.
9. The aims of Part IV are:-
- (a) To practise the carrying out of tactical machine gun roles using ammunition.
- (b) To provide platoon commanders with a means of testing the standard of field duties, fire control, fire discipline and drill reached by their sections.
10. Part IV is the final stage of platoon training.
The number of exercises which can be usually carried out is limited only by the amount of ammunition available or by the time for which a field firing range can be alloted.
11. The phases of the battle which may be practised include the following:-
- (a) Attack – covering fire, consolidation and flank protection.
- (b) Defence.
- (c) Withdrawal.
- (d) Any special form of warfare for which the unit is training, eg:-
- Mountain warfare.
- Desert warfare.
- Static warfare (harassing and counter-preparation tasks and the firing of barrages).
All exercises should be directed by the platoon commander.
Framing the exercises
12. An early reconnaissance of the area allotted should be carried out by the platoon commander. Each exercise will be based on a simple tactical situation.
13. The practical work of all schemes should open with the issue of the machine gun platoon commander’s orders at the place at which they would be given out in war.
Range safety precautions and the safety of other troops taking part must always be borne in mind. The scheme should be so framed that the restrictions on the choice of tactical positions, imposed by these considerations, are reduced to a minimum.
14. If facilities exist it is most desirable that all sections in defence should dig in, be concealed, a detailed inspection of the position made, and shotting carried out on targets within the arc and on fixed lines.
15. Although the officer framing the exercise cannot normally order the occupation of direct or indirect positions, situations can be created which will influence the platoon commander to adopt whichever is desired.
Conduct of the exercises
16. Before the exercise begins, the opening narrative should be explained to all ranks taking part. Any assumed locations and movements of enemy and our own troops should be explained throughout the exercise. For purposes of co-operation, it may be desirable to represent headquarters of our own troops.
17. Special attention will be paid to the following subjects:-
- (a) Reconnaissance and issue of orders by platoon and section commanders.
- (b) Fire direction, fire control and fire discipline.
- (c) Section and platoon drill.
- (d) Care and concealment of guns, personnel, stores and vehicles during all phases.
- (e) Ammunition supply.
- (f) Tactical handling, driving and concealment of vehicles.
18. Where range facilities exist, it may be possible for a platoon commander to exercise all the sections of his platoon within a complete machine gun platoon plan. Such exercises must be timed and arranged so as to ensure:-
- (a) The safety of all sections taking part.
- (b) That the platoon commander or an assistant director is present with each section during its reconnaissance, occupation, and engagement of targets.
19. It may be found valuable for a number of exercises to be rehearsed before the sections carry them out with ammunition.
When range facilities allow a variety of different exercises to be staged, sections should act as spectators during any exercise which they themselves are not to carry out.
20. In order to produce conditions resembling as far as possible those of active service, problems dealing with or caused by, the following should be introduced occassionally:-
Casualties, protection from gas, the safety of our own troops, firing from camouflaged covering, ammunition supply, and administration.
21. Indirect fire and night shooting necessitating reconnaissance by day should be practised. In such cases the reconnaissance, as well as the shooting, must be carried out under active service conditions.
22. Among the targets selected for engagement should be screens camouflaged or hidden behind natural objects such as bushes, so that the amount of fire effect may be discovered.
Supervision of the exercises
23. One officer or NCO will be detailed to watch the action of, and hear the orders issued by, the platoon and each section commander taking part in the exercise.
24. One NCO will be detailed to watch the actions of the personnel of each section, other than the commander.
25. These officers and NCOs will also be responsible to the officer superintending for safety precautions, but, apart from ensuring that these are observed, they will not interfere with the actions of the commanders or sections whom they are watching.
26. If possible, officers and non-commissioned officers, detailed for supervision should be taken over the ground by the directing officer the day before the scheme takes place, so that they may be fully conversant with the probable actions of the commanders taking part.
27. At the conclusion of each exercise the directing officer should hold a short conference on the ground. All commanders, superintending officers and NCOs should be present. All points which require reference to the ground should then be discussed.
USE OF LANDSCAPE TARGETS AND HARMONIZED SIGHTS (30 yards ranges)
1. Landscape targets. The frame for these is 10 feet long and 5 feet high. Landscapes in sheets, 5 feet by 2 feet, are pasted on to the lower portion leaving 3 feet of blank sky-screen above to receive the shots.
The sky-screen should be of brown paper, in order to render the bullet holes invisible to the firers.
2. Harmonization of sights. In firing at landscape targets, weapons should be given extra elevation, to ensure that the bullets will strike the blank sky-screen, even if the aim is taken at an object at the bottom of the landscape; this extra elevation necessitates the weapons being harmonized in order that they all shoot to the same height above the point aimed at.
Harmonization is carried out as follows:-
- Put aiming marks at intervals of about 12 inches on a horizontal line at the bottom of the blank sky-screen. (See Fig. 2).
Draw two horizontal lines 26 inches and 28 inches above the aiming marks. These lines must be visible from the firing point. Set the sights to 1,400 yards. The weapons should then be fired, aim being taken at the aiming marks, and the sights adjusted until every gun places the shots between the two lines.
The elevation for every weapon harmonized should be entered on the elevation board in each 30 yard range.
3. Apparatus and method of scoring:-
- (a) Concentrated target. A measuring rod 27 inches long is required. When fire has been concentrated on any point on the landscape target, the rod is held vertically, the bottom of it on the point of aim. A mark is then made on the blank sky-screen at the top of the rod, and 5/8 inches to the right; this mark shows where the centre of the group should be.For competitions, two concentric wire rectangles, 5 inches by 4 inches and 2½ inches by 2 inches will be used to determine the score. The centre of the rectangle is placed on the mark with the longest sides of the rectangle vertical; every shot in the inner rectangle counts two points; every shot in the remainder of the larger rectangle counts on point.
- (b) Distributed target. When fire has been distributed between two points on the landscape, a mark is made 27 inches vertically and 5/8 inches to the right above each, as already described; these two marks are joined by a line parallel to that long which fire has been distributed.This line is then produced 1½ inches beyond the marks at either end. A line 1½ inches above and another 1½ inches below are drawn parallel to the first line. The ends of these are joined by vertical lines passing 1½ inches outside the two marks (see Fig II). The extra 1½ inches at each end is to allow for the width of the cone of fire of the section.
All shots in the rectangle count one point each to the total score of the section; any shot in a rectangle over and above the number ordered will not count. Shots on the dividing lines count in one rectangle only.
- (c) A miniature replica of the landscape target in use should be available on the firing point. The instructor will mark by means of pins the position or the extent of the target on the replica. The fire controller having identified that target on the landscape, he will give the section a fire control order.The fire controller should give his indicator from a firing position in the section, without further reference to the replica.