How do I interpret a Zero Target?


For Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Thursday, we are talking about techniques for interpreting the New Army Approved zero target and coaching our Paratroopers. The reference for this discussion is Appendix E, TC 3-22.9, change 2, dated August 2017.

The new zero target has been discussed in previous posts. However, to use it effectively, you have to be able to determine what your shots mean. Like a doctor, the coach has to look at the shot group and decide what the Paratrooper is doing based on the ‘symptoms’ presented. To do this, the coach has to observe what the firer is doing first, in order to make sense of what is happening on the target.

The coach observing the firer can help the firer to discount rounds that they observe on the target that are outside the pattern of the other rounds (a ‘flier’). The coach cannot do this for the shooter if they do not pay attention to what they are doing, as opposed to looking at the target.

I hear every day on the Enduring range NCO’s say that a vertical group is a sign of ‘your breathing is off.’ But what they don’t realize is that it could mean many other symptoms. Picture one illustrates the major symptoms a vertical represents.


A horizontal group is traditionally associated with a lousy trigger squeeze, but it could be a shifting position, or changing sight picture. Picture two illustrates this for us.


The key to proper coaching is becoming a shooting DETECTIVE. The coach needs to observe the shooter, question the shooter, look at the evidence down range, question the shooter again, make assumptions based on the evidence available, and then act upon his assumptions. The coach and shooter must have a free and open dialog with each other in a relaxed atmosphere. Remember if a Soldier learns to shoot poorly they will only be capable of shooting poorly.

If you’re not sure if you are doing the right thing, have an experienced coach watch you, or at the least, have appendix E, TC 3-22.9, change 2 in the hands of an inexperienced coach to reference. I have a printed and digital copy on the range with me to look at and refer to and illustrate some points to new shooters.

Just remember, the rifle’s zero determines if you hit or miss your target. This is vital if you cannot live-fire confirm at true distance, like doctrine (and the zero target) says we are supposed to do.

If you accept being one inch off your intended point of aim by not marking groups and knowing for sure where your rounds hit at 25 meters, you will be off your intended point of aim by 12 inches at 300 meters. This is before I add in any other variables like the 12 additional inches of my 4 MOA group size at 300 meters, Bullet Trajectory, Wind, Trigger Squeeze, Unstable Firing Platform, etc. So sometimes when that target you ‘hit multiple times’ didn’t go down, it was because you weren’t anywhere near it.

#NCObusiness #trainyourparatroopers #itallstartshere


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