1951: Chapter 12 – Visual Training


System of training

1. The methods taught in Infantry Training Pamphlet No. 2, Fieldcraft (All Arms), Chapter I must be the groundwork of the machine-gunner’s visual training. Owing to the fact that machine guns are fired at longer ranges than other small arms and to the closer grouping of the weapon, even minor inaccuracies in indication and recognition may result in the target being missed. Further, it is often necessary to fire machine guns under conditions in which any inaccuracy might endanger our own troops. For these reason, the methods taught in Infantry Training Pamphlet No. 2 are amplified here.

Standard of training

2. The following standard of training must be reached:-

(a) Officers, NCOs and rangetakers must be capable of:-

(i) Organizing an arc of fire.

(ii) Using range-cards.

(iii) A high standard of indication.

(iv) Issuing fire orders.

(v) Judging distance up to 2,000 yards.

(b) Gun numbers must be capable of:-

(i) Recognizing rapidly and accurately any target indicated.

(ii) Indication of simple targets.

(iii) Applying fire orders.

(iv) Judging distance up to 1,000 yards

Indication and recognition

3. The method of teaching indication and recognition and the organization of an arc of fire, to officers, NCOs and rangetakers is given in Lesson 66 of this pamphlet.

The method of teaching recognition and simple indication to gun numbers will be found in Infantry Training Pamphlet No. 2, Lesson 2.

It should be noted that the fingers-breadth and hand-span method is not sufficiently accurate for machine gun fire control and is replaced by the degree measurement method.

All gun numbers must know how to measure degrees by hand angles and should check their own personal hand angles at frequent intervals.

Instruction in recognition must only be given by NCOs who have reached a high standard in indication.

Judging distance

5. The method of teaching judging distance is given in Infantry Training Pamphlet No. 2, Lessons 4, 5 and 6.

6. Officers, NCOs and rangetakers should be required to pass the following test:-

(a) Judge the distance to two objects, both between 600 and 1,000 yards.

(b) Key range two objects not more than 1,000 yards away and not more than 300 yards from a known range.

(c) Key range two objects between 1,500 and 2,000 yards but not more than 300 yards from known ranges.

For test (a) the error should not exceed 50 yards.

For test (b) the error should not exceed 100 yards.

For test (c) the error should not exceed 150 yards.

Five out of the six rangers must be within the permissible error.

7. Gun numbers should be required to pass tests (a) and (b) only. Three out of the four rangers must be within the permissible error.

Fire orders

8. The method of teaching the issue of fire orders is given in Lesson 97 of this pamphlet.

9. The method of teaching application of fire orders is given in Lesson 55 of this pamphlet.




1. To teach how to indicate and recognize targets accurately and rapidly.

2. To teach how to organize an arc of fire.

Class and instructors

3. The lecture should be given by an officer to a class not exceeding 30. The practical period should be taught by squad instructors.


4. One 45-minute lecture.

One 45-minute period for practice.


5. For lecture:- Blackboard and chalks, landscape target and pointer staff.

For practical period:- Gun, tripod, director, pointer staff and hand-angle scale.


6. For lecture:- Draw diagrams to indicate clock ray, use of reference points and auxiliary reference points and degree measurement. Draw right and left of arc and near limit on landscape target.

For practical period:- Gun and tripod mounted. Select suitable targets and reference points.


7. Class to have binoculars.



8. Give the aim of the lesson and emphasize the importance of a high standard of indication and recognition in machine gun fire control.

Organization of the arc of fire

9. State that an arc of fire is an area of ground over which it is desired that the guns can bring fire to bear from a given position.

10. Using the landscape target, explain that the arc is defined by a “Right of arc” and a “Left of arc” which are imaginary lines passing through easily identified objects in the landscape on the right and left of the arc.

11. Using the landscape target, explain that on occasion a “Near limit” is indicated. This implies that only the ground beyond this line and within the arc need be considered.

12. Ensure that the class know what reference points are. State that reference points will be given short definitive names by which they can be rapidly recognized by all gun members.

Reference points should not be on the right or left of arc, the near limit nor the sky-line.

13. Demonstrate on the landscape target how to organize an arc of fire. It is usually done as follows:-

“Look to your front.

Half right a large wood – right edge, Right of arc.

Half left a prominent red house – Left edge, Left of Arc.

Near Limit – the river running across the front.

Reference points:-

Centre of arc – a church – right bottom corner known and CHURCH.

Quarter left, two poplars – right poplar known as POPLAR.

Preliminaries to indication

14. Tell the squad that the fire controller, before indicating a target, will decide on:-

(a) What he is going to call it, ie, what the target looks like to the naked eye. A fence may look like a dark strip, a red house in the distance may look black.

(b) The simplest, quickest and most certain method of indication.

Direct indication

15. State that whenever possible, the gun itself should be laid on the target to be indicated. If the situation allows it, this is the most efficient method of indication.

Alternatively an instrument such as a director or pointer staff may be used. If the object to be indicated is unmistakable, the approximate right, centre or left of arc can be of great assistance to denote a general direction.


“Right of arc – white house.”

“Centre of arc – bright yellow patch.”

Reference and auxiliary reference point

16. Show how to indicate targets using reference point. State that auxiliary reference points may be used in conjunction with reference points to indicate difficult targets. They should be easily recognizable and should be close to the target to be engaged.

17. Tell the squad that the last target may be used as an auxiliary reference point if it is near to the new target.

Clock ray method

18. Make sure that the class are conversant with the clock ray method (see Infantry Training Pamphlet No. 2, Lesson 2).

Degree measurement

19. Explain that the distance in degrees from a reference point or auxiliary reference point to the target may be of great assistance in indicating a difficult target. The distance in degrees can be measured with the graticules of the binoculars or by hand angles. Individual hand angles should be determined in all service positions, ie, standing, sitting or lying down.


Targets with width

20. State that when indicating a target with width, the words “Right limit” and “Left limit” will be used to indicate the extent of the target.



Depth targets

21. Tell the squad that with depth targets, the “Near end” and “Far end” are indicated in a similar manner to that shown in para 20.

Failure to recognize the target

22. State that if the No. 1 fails to recognize the target, he will report “Again” The fire controller must then decide whether the No. 1 did not hear the order or whether he failed to understand it. If the fire controller considers the No. 1 failed to understand the indication, he must indicate the target again by a different method.

23. Questions from the class.

24. Sum up main points.


25. Check the hand angles of the squad in all positions with a prepared scale.

26. Practise the squad in organizing an arc of fire. Detail a No. 1 and 2 to take post.

27. Lat the director on a simple target and let the remainder of the squad view it.

28. When the squad have decided on their indication, order one the squad to indicate the target. The No. 1 will lay the gun according to the indication.

29. Check the aim and discuss the indication given.

30. Practise the squad as above with all types of targets. The targets selected should be such as to employ the various methods of indication.


31. Questions from the squad.

32. Sum up main points and discuss progress.




1. To teach how to observe the strike of the bullets and then to correct the fire onto the target.

Class and instructor

2. This lesson should be taught to all ranks before firing Part III – MMG course. Class preferably not larger than 30 under an instructor.


3. One 45-minute lecture.


4. Blackboard and chalk.


5. Draw the diagrams given in the text of the lesson on the blackboard.



6. Give the aim of the lesson (see para 1 above). State that observation of fire means the estimation, by the strike of the bullets, of the position of the beaten zone in reference to the target. Ranging means the correction to elevation and direction required to lay the beaten zone on the target.

7. Tell the class that observation of fire and ranging are normally carried out by the fire controller. In heavy fighting, where the unit control may break down, control by the firer will become necessary. Except in favourable circumstances little reliance can be placed on observation by the firer at ranges over 800 yards. Although the rangetaker and fire controller are primarily responsible for observing fire, all numbers should report strike as and when they see it.

Observation of fire

8. Explain:-

The possibility of observation of strike will depend on a variety of factors of which the following are the most important:-

(a) The nature of the soil around the target. Sand, dry plough, water, short scrub, chalk subsoil and any powdery surface generally give good results, but damp ground, long grass, rocky country (except at short ranges) and undergrowth make observation more difficult.

(b) Visibility as affected by light, mist or mirage.

(c) The position of the sun; when the sun is low it is easier to pick up strike that when it is high.

(d) Wind: A high wind tends to blow away the dust caused by the strike before it can be observed.

(e) The range to the target.

9. The action of the enemy will often indicate whether the fire effect is being obtained, eg, cessation of enemy fire. It should be realized that, in battle, the smoke and dust caused by artillery and mortar fire will often impede accurate observation. In addition, if other units are engaging the target, it is not easy to identify the strike on one’s own guns; an appreciation of the time of flight of the bullets will help the fire controller to identify the strike of his guns.

10. It is a fundamental principle in observation of fire only to accept information that is definite or certain, and not to act on what is uncertain or no more than probable. Thus, before any deduction can be made regarding the exact position of a beaten zone with reference to the target, it is necessary to decide whether only a small portion of it is falling on the ground, which gives observation of strike, and, if so what portion of it.

In Fig 10 below, strike is observed on a sandy patch below the target. This may be the bottom of a beaten zone falling on the target or it may be the top of a beaten zone falling short of the target.


11. In the engagement of targets with width or depth, the beaten zone of the guns of the fire units are distributed over the target according to the method of fire employed.

In these circumstance it is not possible always to determine that full fire effect has been obtained, owing to the difficulty of checking each individual beaten zone.

12. It may sometimes happen that an area of ground close to the target is specially suitable for observation.

In the se circumstances it may result in quicker and economical fire effect to direct the fire on this area in the first instance, correcting it on to the target as soon as strike has been observed.

This method should not be adopted where the element of surprise fire is required.

13. Stress that when observing the strike, it is best to search an area around the target systematically, rather than look at the target.

14. Questions to and from the class.


15. Explain:-

It is required to bring the centres of the beaten zones into their correct positions on the target as soon as possible after the first burst. This task may entail corrections for elevation, or for direction, or both.

The general principles to be observed are:

(a) Only correct when it is certain that full fire effect is not being obtained.

(b) When making corrections, unless the correction required can be determined accurately, over estimate rather than under estimate, always provided the safety of our own troops allows it.

It should be appreciated, that when the target is on rising ground, the tendency will be to underestimate the corrections required. Where there is no guide to the amount of correction required, the fire controller should attempt to bracket the target, rather than creep towards it by a series of inadequate corrections.

(c) Corrections will always be given by the fire controller except when gun control has been ordered.

Corrections for line

16. States that observation of machine gun fire is usually carried out from a position near the guns. Corrections can therefore be measured accurately with binoculars or hand angles.

Corrections for elevation

17. It is rarely possible to estimate the exact amoiunt by which the beaten zone is falling over or short of the target. When the whole of a beaten zone is seen, it will be a useful guide to the amount of correction necessary, as the length of beaten zones can be found in the range tables. For example, it might be estimated that the distance between the cente of beaten zone and the target is twice the length of the beaten zone seen.

Displaced OP

18. When the observer is well to a flank of the guns, it must be appreciated that bullets which are falling over or short will appear to be falling right or left of the target. In these circumstances, to ascertain the actual position of the beaten zone with reference to the target, it is necessary to visualise the line guns-target and judge accordingly (see Fig 11 below).


Reporting strike

19. State that strike will be reported to the fire-controller as follows:-

“Strike on target”

“No strike”

“Strike 100 yards short”

“Strike 2 degrees left”

“Strike 2 degrees right and 100 yards high”

20. Questions to and from the class on ranging.


21. With the limited amount of ammunition available for training, practice in observation of fire and ranging cannot normally be carried out separately. Every opportunity should therefore be taken to practice fire controllers, gun numbers and especially range-takers whenever firing with live ammunition.


22. Questions from the class.

23. Sum up main points.

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