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Functional Element Of Weapon Control

We are continuing our discussion on the functional element of control. Specifically, we will be addressing workspace management. The reference for this study is TC 3-22.9 dated January 2017.
TC 3-22.9 defines the workspace as a spherical area, approximately 12-18 inches in diameter centered on the Paratrooper’s chin and about 12 inches in front of it. In this space is where the majority of weapons manipulations take place. The picture below illustrates what this zone looks like.

The reason we use the workspace is so that the Paratrooper can maintain their eyes oriented towards the threat and still be able to conduct critical weapons tasks that require hand/eye coordination. In so doing this, the Paratrooper creates efficiency in their movements, getting the weapon fully operational in the shortest amount of time.

Keep in mind, the location of the workspace will vary depending upon the firing position being used. The only way to determine what is efficient for the Paratrooper is for them to actually get into the positions and attempt to manipulate the weapon through the dry-fire drills.

Many different techniques can be employed to make the workspace more efficient. An example is the placement of the buttstock, some prefer tucking it under the armpit, some prefer seating it in the inner portion where the forearm meets the biceps or leaving it on the shoulder. All of these may prove to be useful, depending upon the firing position being used.

There are several critical sub-assemblies of the weapon that the Paratrooper needs to be able to manipulate within the workspace. They are: Selector lever, Charging handle, bolt catch, ejection port, magazine catch, chamber check, and forward assist. We will discuss each one of these separately.

The selector lever is the secondary safety of the weapon, the primary being the Paratrooper. This should not be manipulated until the Paratrooper is preparing to engage a threat target, then it is manipulated back to safe as soon as the threat is incapacitated. Some people might say that this slows down the paratrooper, but when properly trained, it is just as fast as going without the weapon off safe through multiple threat engagements.

The Charging handle needs to be able to be manipulated smoothly to perform immediate action on the weapon. The Bolt catch needs to be able to be manipulated efficiently to get the weapon back into red status as efficiently as possible.

The Ejection port needs to be closed upon the completion of an engagement, but also needs to be observed during malfunctions and clearance of the weapon. The chamber also needs to be observed, looking for specifically for an empty chamber. And the forward assist needs to be able to be used during loading procedures and correcting malfunctions.

So to sum up, we’ve discussed workspace, what it is, and what sub-assemblies of the weapon the Paratrooper needs to manipulate in it. We will continue our discussion on control as we discuss calling the shot and rate of fire of the weapon.

Raymond Miller
82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.

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