For more Training Tuesday, we will be looking at how to integrate dry-fire into the training calendar. The reference for this discussion is Appendix D TC’s 3-22.9, 3-22.249, and 3-23.35.
I get told on a regular basis that there is not enough time in the day to do dry-fire. Units allegedly have too many competing tasks that prevent them from doing it. I disagree. Division Pamphlet 600-2 tells Paratroopers that they should be focused on the ‘82nd Eight.’ These are the priorities all soldiers assigned to the 82nd should be proficient at; One of those is Marksmanship.
We as leaders need to look at that and understand that it IS a priority. All soldiers’ mission when in contact with an enemy in a time of war is to close with and destroy that enemy by means of maneuver and fire. The only way to be able to do that is to practice that individual skill until unconscious competence is developed. That means it is a higher overall priority than other competing tasks.
Another common question I am asked is ‘what dry-fire drills should I be focusing on?’ The base has been established in the Training Circulars. All you have to do is put on the calendar what it is you want to do, and the days to do it with. If you don’t put it on the calendar to train, it won’t get done.
Start by leading the drills for your Paratroopers. If you are doing it for the first time, or as a part of PMI, go through the drills sequentially at first, to show how to do them correctly. Once that has been done, you can start to change things up and make it interesting.
Call out drills randomly. Use the Master Gunner Cell Dry-fire calendars for Rifle, Pistol, and Squad Automatic Weapon as a quick reference, and start changing up the presentation of drills. The ‘fight up’ and ‘fight down’ drills are only required to do the standing, kneeling, squatting (for Rifle) and prone positions initially. Have soldiers practice tactical and emergency magazine changes during all the positions, not just standing.
Once that is starting to be comfortable, incorporate all the positions in Chapter 6 of the TC’s for the appropriate weapon. Incorporate the use of support, shooting through loopholes, and time standards. Make them challenging, and leaders need to record that information as well. If you don’t keep track of it, you don’t know how well they’ve done and improved.
You can incorporate dry-fire into Physical fitness training. The best days to do this with would be a functional fitness round-robin day or ruck march. Dry-fire can be incorporated into functional fitness by setting it up as a station in a round-robin for time. Do one minute of the drill that the squad/platoon is weakest at. The same applies to ruck marches; it lets Paratroopers see what it is like to handle their weapon under ‘combat’ conditions. Drills H and I are excellent to do, as going to prone in a ruck is a challenging physical event. And magazine changes while rucking shows the Paratrooper how much dexterity they lose when carrying weight.
These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate dry-fire into your calendar. Doing this will make your Paratroopers want to actually pick up their weapon, pick up a TC and learn something. And dare I say it, it is fun. If you make it an enjoyable activity, Paratroopers will want to do it more often. There is no excuse for not doing dry-fire. It is only a priority if we make it a priority. Squad and Team leaders need to do as they have always done, and get it done. Anything less is failing our Paratroopers.