FOB MAREZ, Iraq – Special Forces Soldiers here began a four-day marksmanship course April 10 in Mosul for 19 Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Four USSF instructors led the Soldiers through various fundamentals to prepare them for long-range target engagement, such as enemy marksmen and suicide vehicle-borne IED drivers.
The primary instructor for the course explained the training was similar to sniper training in some aspects, but was not designed for certification purposes. The course was intended to arm the Soldiers with techniques they can use on the battlefield.
Course topics included basic marksmanship fundamentals, weapons familiarization, slightly exposed and moving targets, and adjusting optics for environmental conditions with unknown distances.
A USSF sergeant major familiar with the training said providing advanced marksmanship training for conventional forces is not uncommon.
“This training gives that conventional force commander a capability to employ; it gives the unit the ability to conduct their own sniper overwatch,” the sergeant major said.
Beginning with basic fundamentals, instructors taught the students how to use their weapon systems and optics for long-range marksmanship. Heading out to the range with M-14 enhanced battle rifles, M4 carbines and an M110 semi-automatic sniper system, students practiced what they learned by grouping their shots on paper targets.
The students also practiced aiming for targets with limited exposure. Instructors set up cardboard silhouettes at distances of 100 and 200 meters. The silhouettes were twisted on poles to reduce the time of exposure.
An instructor said that the targets’ exposure time is similar to that of someone emerging from an alley to throw a grenade and then going back – a situation often encountered in certain parts of Mosul.
Later during the course, students were tasked to engage thinner targets moving side to side, which simulated an enemy combatant running to a fighting position.
To fine-tune accuracy, instructors taught students to determine wind speed through observation and target distances using optic sights on the weapons.
“In order to effectively engage select targets at long ranges, it is imperative for a marksman to calculate and adjust for environmental influences such as wind, heat and altitude,” said the primary instructor.
To test the snipers’ fast-action response to moving targets, instructors allowed the students a few seconds to engage targets that appeared a limited number of times. In preparation for the final test, instructors set up steel targets on a hillside at distances ranging from 200 to 630 meters. Students then had a limited period to determine the distance of each target and wind speed, adjust weapons accordingly and engage the targets as many times as they needed to eliminate the simulated threat.
For the final test, with just two rounds per target, students used all they learned to engage targets at varying distances with limited time.
A Soldier with 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., said he was one of four Soldiers in his unit who volunteered to train on the unit’s newly issued M-14 EBRs.
Even though this was his first time firing a sniper rifle, he said he will be able to take what he learned from the course and teach other Soldiers in his unit how to use his new weapon system.