We are going to be discussing the first few components of the element of Control. Training Circular 3-22.9, Change 1 dated January 2017 states that control is: “all the conscious actions of the Soldier before, during, and after the shot process that the Soldier’s specifically in control of.”
In other words, the Paratrooper is responsible for what the weapon does, or does not do. To maintain positive control of the shot process, the Paratrooper manages their Trigger Control, Breathing Control, Workspace, Calling the Shot, and Follow-through. We will discuss Trigger Control and Breathing Control today.
Under Control, the Paratrooper acts as the primary safety and fire control for the weapon. They are the primary means of mobility for it, they calculate ballistic solutions for it, and provide the weapon stability while either stationary or moving. The Paratrooper is the primary regulator of these functions through the shot process at the appropriate time.
Outside of a prone position, with a bipod and sand sock, a Paratrooper will have some form of wobble area (or arc of movement) to their position. The picture above illustrates how this may be perceived by the Paratrooper. The factors causing this could be as diverse as a high center of gravity or the Paratrooper’s heartbeat causing the sight to move. Regardless of the source, the Paratrooper has to account for this when applying their shot process.
Trigger Control is the most important aspect of Control to learn, and the most difficult to master. Trigger Control is defined as the act of firing the weapon while maintaining proper aim and adequate stabilization until the bullet leaves the muzzle. Trigger Control compliments the functional element of Stability, which we discussed in earlier posts. The key to Trigger Control is a smooth consistent squeeze, regardless of the speed at which it is pulled. When the Paratrooper has a solid position, and a good trigger squeeze, then any induced shooting errors are attributed to the Paratrooper’s aiming process.
In order to get a smooth trigger squeeze, the Paratrooper places their finger where it lays naturally on the trigger. This will allow for maximum mechanical advantage when applying rearward pressure on the trigger. Once the Paratrooper discovers this location, they pull the trigger to the rear at a speed they can manage a smooth, consistent pull to the rear. One other thing to keep in mind is trigger reset., it is important that they keep their eyes on their sighting system (iron sights, optic, laser, etc.) and ensure that they are ready for follow up shots if needed.
The next thing we will discuss will be breathing. The Paratrooper will control their breathing by whatever means suits their shooting style and preference. The key take away from Breath Control is that the Paratrooper needs to be able to control the body movement that breathing induced, whether through a controlled or natural respiratory pause. Keep in mind the Paratrooper needs to practice this both with and without stress, so that they will know what they need to do for a hasty, or deliberate shot.
A common misconception out there is that a vertical pattern is caused by bad Breath Control. This is not true, it is more properly attributed to improper Aiming and Trigger Control. If you have further questions on this, check appendix E of TC 3-22.9.
So to sum up, we’ve discussed what Control is, what the Wobble Area is, what Trigger Control is, and what Breathing Control is. We will continue our discussion on control as we address workspace management.