Round count

I was scanning through the May 2011 issue of the American Rifleman before I threw it away and read the following (Page 56 in the article Military Marksmanship):

According to the Army standards and training manual, PAM 350-38 (2009 version), a Regular Army light infantryman should fire about 1,200 rounds a year, assuming he participates in everything: basic marksmanship, day-night qualification, unit live-fire exercises, shooting in NBC gear, thermal and infrared (IR) sights, etc. His Guard and Reserve colleague should expend 660 rounds. But interviews show that almost nobody comes remotely close to that figure. Furthermore, for “plain vanilla” soldiers with access to shooting simulators, and who do not use thermal or IR sights, the specified annual expenditure is 490 rounds for active and 294 for Guard and Reserve.

1,200 rounds per year? If I shoot in just one USPA or Steel Challenge match per month I will go through that many rounds in a year. And that doesn’t count the rounds I expend in practice. I have gone though that many rounds in a single day in practice. And “nobody comes remotely close to that figure”? Wow! And I feel I don’t get enough range time in. And we are sending our troops off to war with this level of training?

Those anti-gun people who claim it is a fantasy to believe the gun owners could hold our own against the Federal Government are totally clueless and whistling past the graveyard. We outnumber them, we can outshoot them, and that doesn’t even take into account that most of them would be on our side anyway.


17 thoughts on “Round count

  1. I also read that with astonishment back in May. I know jr shooters that go through 500 rds a year. Why in the world would we think that few shots down range would make a soldier proficient. I bet a more interesting stat would be the number of rounds your local law officer fires per year for training….< 50 rds a year?

  2. When I went through boot at Great Lakes I was astonished that the only marksmanship training we got was putting 10 rounds downrange form a 1911 with a .22 conversion kit. The training consisted of the range officer telling us “If you point that gun anywhere but downrange I’m killing you.” That was in 1988. Absolutely nuts. All branches should have a real marksmanship program, and hand-to hand. We got great instruction on how to wash those damn leggings and fold our underwear though.

  3. In my many years in the uniform of my nation, I never got to shoot as many rounds in practice and qualification as I would have liked. In combat zones you can shoot a lot of ammunition, but then the unit doesn’t give you time, maintenance of vehicles and building stuff takes priority. The other problem is reliance on automatic fire for suppression of the enemy and their crew served weapons. You have competition as your reason to practice more, and the military is waiting on air cover, or artillery and mortars. We will kill it, and I think the people with rifles that want to hit their targets take the time to make the shot. But little real data, they have said only ten percent of the unit is actively engaged in killing competently, the other ninety percent want to hang around because they are afraid to be alone on the battlefield.

  4. Yeah, it’s the “crew served weapons” thing that worries me; that and area denial weapons, like mines and gas.

    Joe, we only win if we can stay ahead of them, pick ’em off before the get dug in and set up. The armed citizen is a better marksman but lags badly on C^3I and big stuff.

    Impossible to govern, sure. But that’s not the same as winning. How long did Vietnam run?

  5. I hope that many of our soldiers like to shoot. Like us, they are spending their own time and money because it’s fun.

  6. That is really horrible, they buy their own gear half the time when they deploy and on top of that we don’t supply them with the most basic -basic- tool necessary for them to stay alive.

  7. When I was a Detatchment LPO getting ammo/range time set aside was always a pain in the ass. The brass just didn’t consider it a priority. It was a lot easier to schedule unit-level PT and then take everyone to lunch and a public range, the downside of course being that we had to pay for our own ammo.

  8. Having talked with some of the snipers that go in harms way, I believe it. They tell stories of having to buy their own ammo for training, or relying on retired soldiers who help them out by reloading quality .308 for them to use during their qualifications, because there simply wasn’t enough M118LR for them to even qualify. They talk about tearing down machine gun belted ammo for practice.

    I don’t shoot a heavy F Class schedule, and I shoot 2 times that much 7mm WSM ammo a year. I shoot 4-5 times that much Grendel, and 4-5 times that much 5.56 as well.

    I don’t shoot as much pistol as Joe, but I still shoot at least that much pistol!

    Not good, not good at all!

  9. Let’s see; what would it cost, at current contract prices, to provide an additional 1K rounds of 5.56 and another 1K rounds of 9 mm per enlistee per year? I have no idea.

  10. Well, this article (an interseting read) might shed some light on the issue. It could be a production capacity problem more than a budget problem. If there are 3 million active and reserve personnel; that would require an extra 3 billion rounds of 5.56 annually. The output of Lake City is only around a billion rounds of 5.56.
    Lake City’s sales in 2007 were $1.28 billion which totaled to 1.375 billion total rounds for an average of $0.94 per round (18% of that was larger than 5.56). So whatever the actual price would be, (at least for rifle pracctice), it’s less than $3 billion for the ammo itself. Maybe they should build some more ammo production facilities.

  11. I saw something on “Shooting USA” while they were covering a pistol competition put on by the US Army. They said (Jim Scouten) “the competition is even a great refresher course for the Army’s pistol shooters who usually only get a day or two at the range per year”. That is not a direct quote but just from memory. I remember it because it stunned me.

    We really should do better by our own soldiers. This is a disgrace.

  12. “We really should do better by our own soldiers.” or let them do for themselves. If we use the model put forth by the founders of the U.S. they’ll be practicing on their own time with their own equipment, using their own ammo, until called upon to serve in active duty.

    Guns and ammo were often sent to individual soldiers by friends and family throughout W.W. II.

    So Lake City puts out ~1.4 billion rounds/yr? How many rounds are assembled by individual reloaders? Total primer sales alone would be a good enough meter. Maybe some of the military bases could afford several progressive presses and some loading rooms. Still of course someone has to make the components.

    Take special note that in all these cases we are not supposed to trust one another enough to make these sorts of things possible. I can already hear the protestations from all sides.

  13. I grew up an Air Force brat, and every base we were stationed at had a “Rod and Gun” club, and if it was legal within the locale, they all had reloading rooms. As I recall, they had notices up on the wall about “group buys” (which I didn’t understand at the time.) We were never stationed on an Army facility, but both Air Force and Navy bases, and they all had them.

    I would guess that virtually all the bases have such facilities, at least those in the US. But…its spendy for active duty guys. They don’t make a lot of money to spend on buying ammo or even components, and many of them don’t even own a personal firearm.

    I’m not sure about using handloaded ammo in military firearms.

  14. Jason,
    Thanks for the article on US ammunition production. Very good reading.
    The Army has done a pretty good job with the Rapid Fielding Initiative(RFI)that buys kit Soldiers would otherwise spend their money on. What they buy isn’t the best for everybody and every area of operations, but it works well for the average soldier. Maybe an expanded clothing allowance would be better. Just my own opinion, something or someone will always be at a disadvantage regardless of the army policy.
    I have gone through several bulk packs of 22lr with two different rifles. It finally resulted in an expert rifle qualification. Any of the laser simulators in the army could be used for great marksmanship training, but the simulator room must be dark to work right, stations break, and in general it is annoying to use. I shudder to think how painful it would be for even one company to shoot that much in a year whether with 22lr or 5.56 with all the weapon and ammo safety procedures the army uses now (and how bad some units are at following the rules and doing the paperwork).
    in my opinion the most practical answer is get used to the simulators. but giving soldiers space to use their personal 22s for practice or units try to shoot more and practice doing the safety dance faster would help.

  15. In the runup to my National Guard unit’s deployment, the only live rounds we shot (in the year prior) were re-zero and qualification. Probably 100 rounds total from our personal weapons. The unit is mechanized cav scouts (19D) so there was a bit of crew served shooting too (but not more than another 300 rnds). I purchased my own AR15 so I could get more trigger time, but that was the exception, not the rule.

    Even while deployed there is a hard time convincing officers and senior NCOs to set up and run ranges, they have better things to do (I guess) and so the lower enlisted guys who are actually going outside the wire get fucked, as usual.

  16. Your average competitive shooter will out shoot your average Soldier. No doubts about it. However your average competitive shooter hasn’t trained to fight as a team, nor trained to conduct a night jump into the thick of it and begin raiding, or crawl through a mile of mud to get into a position of advantage. So while I agree that most Soldiers are on the side of the angels, it isn’t a fair comparison to use only shooting skill as a metric to predict “who would win.”

    Not to be combative, but do you know how to set up a linear or L shaped ambush? Do you know how to provide good security around an objective, sealing it off with an inner and outer cordon? Do you know how to coordinate efforts between a mounted, dismounted, and aviation elements? Do you know how to echelon fires so that even if there is a sniper with a rifle capable of hitting a target at a thousand yards you can keep him effectively suppressed until you are in halitosis range using artillery, mortars, close combat aviation, and small arms fire? Do you know how to use recon elements to pass off observation of a mobile target? Do you know how to mix recon platforms to provide positive target identification? I’m not saying that marksmanship isn’t important, just that warfare is much more than just marksmanship. Throughout history there have been those who try to simplify war into formulas, and invariably the people who follow those formulas lose to people who don’t. Clausewitz and De Jomine set us up for failure in Vietnam.

    In Afghanistan the Soviet kill to loss ratio was staggering, estimates put the Mujahadeen death toll between 1 and 3 million (estimates only) but the Soviet losses were less than 16,000 if I remember correctly. In Iraq and Afghanistan combined we have lost less than 10,000 Americans to an active, internationally backed insurgency. So even if only 1 in 10 Servicemembers fought against American Patriots, the numbers say that the loss of life will be staggering.

    If you really want to stand a chance against an Army in the field you need to get organized, you need to practice working together, and you need to accept that a lot of good people will die no matter how much support you can get from the international community. But if the choice becomes freedom or oppression, then you really need to find out if freedom is worth dieing for.

    Like I wrote before, I don’t mean to be combative, but I do want people to know the reality of an insurgency and not let anyone fall victim to false hope of a “short victorious war.”

  17. Son told me that his entire handgun training in most of two hitches now has involved less shooting than we used to do in one day at the range, just fooling around. Which, rifles being the primary weapon, might not seem so bad. Except that, while they were stationed in a fairly quiet area his second tour in Iraq, they didn’t normally carry their rifle off base; you were issued a 9mm pistol and two loaded mags. So if your only training with pistols had been in the Army, and you had to use it…

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