The procedures, exercises, and techniques for implementing a proper marksmanship program are based on the concept that all machine gunners must understand common firing principles, be proficient marksmen, and be confident in applying these skills in combat. This depends on their understanding of the machine gun and their application of marksmanship fundamentals. Proficiency is accomplished through practice that is supervised by qualified trainers and through objective performance assessments by the unit leaders. The structure of this chapter is in four sections: planning, fundamentals, basic marksmanship, and advanced gunnery. All advanced exercises are conducted under conditions that are as much like tactical conditions as possible. (See Appendix B for training aids and devices.)


The planning of MG training is no different from other marksmanship training. Guidelines are provided to assist the trainers in understanding, preparing, and ensuring that all training is conducted to standard. This section addresses the objectives, the responsibilities of the commanders, and the phases of training. It also introduces the training devices that assist in training, and designates when remedial and sustainment training should be conducted.


The objectives of the MG training program are to guide the trainers, leaders, and gunners through a sequence of training to standard that produces a gunner who is able to maintain the gun and effectively engage targets in combat.


The responsibilities of the commander are to ensure the instructors and their assistants are thoroughly trained and rehearsed in the planning, knowledge, and presentation of all MG training. He will ensure that safety is emphasized and never overlooked during training. Serviceable weapons are a must for good training and commanders must make sure they are used properly. He also ensures sufficient time is scheduled.


The initial training strategy is divided into three phases of marksmanship instruction--the fundamental phase, the basic marksmanship phase, and the advanced gunner phase. Gunner safety is continuously stressed during all phases of training.

a. In the fundamental phase, the gunner learns the necessary common skills, such as dry-fire exercises, preparation of positions, manipulation of the T&E, range determination, and sighting and aiming. The gunner must master these skills before he is allowed to progress to the basic marksmanship phase.

b. During the basic marksmanship phase, the gunner learns the basics of loading, zeroing, laying, and engaging of single and multiple targets from the tripod and vehicle mode.

c. The advanced gunnery phase trains the gunner in engaging moving targets, night firing, NBC firing, mounted firing, and firing using fire commands. The gunner will be placed under the stress and strain of simulated combat conditions.


Once individuals and units have trained to a required level of proficiency, leaders must structure collective and individual training plans to conduct critical task training at the frequency necessary for the sustainment training strategy. Mission training plans and individual training evaluation programs help achieve and sustain collective/individual proficiency. Sustainment training prevents skill degradation. Army units must be prepared to accomplish their wartime missions at any time--they cannot rely on infrequent peaking to the appropriate level.


Remedial training will be conducted in any of the phases of training where the gunner does not meet the standard. The trainer must be instantly aware of any gunner that seems to be having trouble. Once the problem has been identified, the gunner should be retrained as soon as possible so that he will maintain the same level of proficiency as the other gunners.


The fundamentals are necessary basic skills that a gunner must be trained in before he can be expected to effectively engage targets. Personnel conducting marksmanship training must fully understand the fundamentals and be well rehearsed in applying them. The basics in MG training are assuming a proper firing position, sighting, aiming, determining range, and manipulating the T&E mechanism.


Before a gunner can hit targets, he must learn to get behind the weapon in a position that allows him to be comfortable, affords him protection, and enhances mission accomplishment.

a. The tripod firing positions are prone, sitting, and standing. They are assumed in the following manner.

b. The vehicular firing position for the MG is standing. It is assumed by constructing a solid platform to stand on, using sandbags or ammunition boxes; or, in the case of the M113 APC, using the commander's seat. The gunner must then ensure that his platform is high enough to place the spade grips of the gun about chest high. He grasps the spade grips with both hands and places both thumbs in a position to press the trigger. The gunner holds the gun tightly to his chest for stabilization; his elbows should be locked tightly to his sides. He sights over the weapon and adjusts his position by flexing his knees and leaning forward to absorb any recoil (Figure 5-4).

c. The antiaircraft firing position uses a standing position when firing from the M63 mount. To assume the position, the gunner stands with his feet spread comfortably apart with his shoulders squarely behind the gun (Figure 5-5). When the gunner is engaging aerial targets, he grasps the upper extension handles with both hands. When engaging low-level aircraft or ground targets, he grasps the lower extension handles with both hands.

NOTE: The kneeling position may be used; it has the advantage of presenting a lower profile of the gunner and also aligns the gunner's eye closer to the axis of the barrel.


Dry-fire training is designed to teach the gunner the essentials of MG gunnery, including safety. Dry-fire training also includes sighting, aiming, sight setting, laying, manipulating the gun, manipulating the T&E mechanism, and determining the range. Thorough, carefully supervised training of these essentials is necessary to conserve time and ammunition during live fire. Practical exercises should be used to determine gunners' proficiency. Mastery of these skills is a must before the gunner is allowed to move on to the next phase of training. Practice is a must to achieve mastery.

a. Sighting and Aiming. Sighting is the ability of the gunner to use correct sight alignment and correct sight picture to engage targets.

b. Range Setting and Laying. Range setting and laying the gun are important elements in marksmanship training. It is this training that prepares the gunner to accurately and rapidly place fire on his target in combat. To properly set ranges, the gunner must be trained in rear sight operation.

c. Traversing and Elevating Mechanism. Manipulation of the T&E mechanism (Figure 5-8) is another key factor in effectively engaging targets. The gunner is taught how to instinctively manipulate the T&E mechanism to shift from one target to another. The gunners are trained to use the traversing handwheel, the traversing slide lock, and the elevating handwheel.

NOTE: Before repositioning the weapon for another target, the gunner must realign the handwheel.


Range determination is the process of estimating the distance to a target from a gunner's position. The ability of the gunner to get the range to, sight on, and destroy a target is the realism of combat. Under combat conditions, ranges are seldom known in advance; therefore the effectiveness of fire depends largely upon the accuracy and speed of the gunner in determining range. Some methods of determining range are estimating by eye (Table 5-1), firing the gun, measuring range from a map or aerial photograph, stepping off the distance, or securing information from other units. Ranges are determined to the nearest 100 meters for machine gun firing. In combat, the most commonly used methods are estimating by eye and firing the gun. There is also a method used for measuring lateral distance.

a. The two techniques of eye estimation are the 100-meter unit of measure method and the appearance of objects method.

b. Firing the gun is another method of determining range. In this method, the gunner opens fire on the target at the estimated range and moves the center of the beaten zone into the center base of the target by means of the T&E handwheels. He resets the sight so the new line of aim is at the center base of the target and notes the range setting on the rear sight. This range setting may apply only to this gun. When the ground in the vicinity of the target does not permit observation of the strike of the rounds, or when surprise fire on the target is desired, fire is adjusted on a point that offers observation and is known to be the same range as the target. The gunner then lays his gun on the target when ordered. When moving into position occupied by other units, range cards prepared by those units can furnish valuable range information on targets, suspected targets, and various terrain features. When the tactical situation and time permit, range may be determined by pacing off the distance.

c. Lateral distance measure is a method that the gunner may use to determine the distance from one target to another from left to right or right to left. When the gun is mounted on the M3 tripod, width can be measured by aiming on a point and manipulating the traversing handwheel, counting the clicks from one point to another point of aim. Each click equals one meter at 1,000 meters or one-half meter at 500 meters. This method is accurate but time-consuming. The finger measurement method is not a method of range determination; it is a method of measuring the lateral distance (in fingers or mils) between two points. To measure the distance in fingers between a reference point and a target, extend the arm with palm outward, the fingers cupped, and elbow locked. Close one eye, raise the index finger, and sight along its edge, placing the edge of the finger along the flank of the target or reference point (Figure 5-12). The remaining space is then filled in by raising fingers until the space is covered. The measurement is then stated as being one or more fingers or so many mils, depending on the number of fingers used (Figure 5-13).


The purpose of observation and adjustment of fire practice is to teach the adjustment of fire by observing the strike of the bullets and the flight of the tracers, or by frequent re-laying on the target using sights.

a. Observation is used when firing on the 10-meter range because the impact of the round is visible on the target. When firing at greater distances, the strike of the round on the ground may cause dust to rise that is visible to the gunner; however, during wet weather, the strike cannot always be seen. In this case, use tracer ammunition that allows the gunner or crew to note the strike of the burst in relation to the target.

b. Adjustments on the target can be made using the mil relation; that is, one click of traversing or elevating handwheel moves the strike of the round one-half inch on the target at 10 meters. When firing on field targets, adjustment is made by moving the burst into the target. One click of traverse will move the strike of the round one-half meter at 500 meters, or one meter at 1,000 meters (Figure 5-14). However, the distance one click of elevation will move the strike of the round depends on the range to the target and the slope of the ground. The gunner determines the number of mils necessary to move the center of the strike into the target, and he manipulates the gun the required number of mils. This does not require the use of sights. For example, should the gunner fire on a target at 500 meters and observe the strike 10 meters to the right of the target and short about 50 meters, he would traverse the gun to the left 20 clicks (mils) and add one or more clicks (mils), depending on the slope.

c. The gunner may use the adjusted aiming point method to adjust the fire. In this method, the gunner must use his sights. He selects an aiming point that will place the next burst on target. For example, when the gunner fires on a target at 500 meters and estimates that the rounds impacted 20 meters short and 10 meters to the right, he would rapidly select an aiming point about 20 meters beyond the target and 10 meters to the left of it and lay on that aiming point and fire (Figure 5-15).


Fire commands are technical instructions issued by a leader to enable the unit or crew to accomplish a desired fire mission. Fire commands have been standardized for infantry direct fire weapons, and they follow the same sequence. There are two types--initial fire commands, issued to engage a target; and subsequent fire commands, which are issued to adjust fire, change the rate of fire, interrupt fire, shift fire to a new target, or to terminate the alert. A correct fire command is one that is as brief as clarity permits and yet includes all the elements necessary for the accomplishment of the fire mission. It is given in the proper sequence, transmitted clearly at a rate that permits receipt and application of instructions without confusion.

a. Elements of the Initial Fire Command. There are six essential elements of the initial fire command for the machine gun, which are given or implied by using one or more of the methods of control. During training, the gun crew repeats each element as it is given. This is done to avoid confusion and to train the crew to think and act in the proper sequence. The six elements are the alert, direction, description, range, method of fire, and the command to open fire.

The leader fires his individual weapon or a machine gun at the enemy bunker, then his gun crew(s) opens fire.

Sometimes a target must be designated by using successive reference points. For example:

Finger measurements can be used to direct the gun crew's attention to the right or left of reference points. For example:

When the guns are mounted on tripods, lateral distance from reference can be accurately announced. When gunners are firing the tripod-mounted gun, lateral distance is assumed to be in mils unless otherwise indicated, so the word "mils" is not necessary. For example:

Dismounted enemy personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TROOPS

Automatic weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MACHINE GUN

Armored vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TANK

Artillery or antitank weapon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ANTITANK

Airplanes or helicopters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . AIRCRAFT

If the target is obvious, no description is necessary. Finger measurements or mil measurements can be used to designate the width of a linear target when the flanks cannot be pinpointed.

When the leader makes a mistake in the initial fire command, he corrects it by announcing CORRECTION, and then gives the corrected element(s). For example:

When the leader makes an error in the subsequent fire command, he may correct it by announcing CORRECTION, and then repeating the entire subsequent fire command. For example:

b. Subsequent Fire Commands. If the gunner fails to adjust his fire on the target, the leader must promptly correct him by announcing or signaling the desired changes. When changes are given, the gunner makes the required corrections and continues to engage the target without further command. When firing under the control of a leader, the assistant gunner checks with the leader for instructions, which he passes on to the gunner. Changes in the rate of fire are given orally and by arm-and-hand signals. To interrupt firing, the leader announces CEASE FIRE or gives a signal to cease fire. The gun crew(s) remains on the alert and firing can be resumed on the same target by announcing FIRE. To terminate the alert, the leader announces CEASE FIRE, END OF MISSION.


The purpose of crew exercise is to develop precision, speed, skill, and teamwork in examining equipment, placing the gun into action, and taking it out of action. In crew exercise, precision must be stressed. Once that is attained, speed, skill, and teamwork will follow. Duties are rotated during crew exercise to allow each member of the gun crew to become familiar with all the duties. During crew exercise, all oral or visual signals are repeated. When the fire command is completed, the gunner will give the assistant gunner an UP. The assistant gunner will extend his hand and arm into the air in the direction of the leader (to indicate READY) and announce, UP. With the M3 mount, the crew must consist of at least four men, including the leader. There is no designated crew in the TOE for a dismounted caliber .50 MG. The following paragraphs are only suggestions for the breakdown of equipment and member designation that may be established by the commander.

a. Crew Equipment. In addition to individual arms and equipment, crew members carry the following equipment for the tripod-mounted machine gun:



Squad or crew leader.

No. 1 Assistant gunner.

No. 2 Gunner.

No. 3 Ammunition bearer.

Binoculars, compass, one box of


Receiver, T&E mechanism attached,
and headspace and timing gauge.

Barrel, barrel cover, and box of

b. Form for Crew Exercise. The crew leader commands, FORM FOR CREW DRILL.

NOTE: An additional crew exercise, which the crew maybe required to practice, is the setting of headspace and timing. These procedures are outlined in paragraph 3-6.

c. Inspection of Equipment Before Firing. When the crew is formed with equipment, the command is, INSPECT EQUIPMENT BEFORE FIRING. At this command, the crew proceeds as follows:

d. Placement of the Gun Into Action. To place the gun into action, the crew leader commands and signals, GUN TO BE MOUNTED HERE (pointing to the position where the gun is to be mounted), FRONT (pointing in the direction of fire), ACTION (vigorously pumping his fist in the direction of the designated gun position).

e. Removal of the Gun From Action. To take the gun out of action, the command is OUT OF ACTION.

f. Duties of The Crew. To hand-carry the gun and equipment, the command is SECURE EQUIPMENT, FOLLOW ME. At this command,--

g. Relocation of Tripod-Mounted Gun. When the gun is mounted on the tripod, it can be moved for short distances by dragging or by a two- or three-man carry. (In the latter, the men should move in step to make carrying easier.)

NOTE: Carrying the gun by the barrel may cause damage to the barrel support and the barrel extension.

h. Movement of the Gun to Other Mounts. With the mount prepared to receive the gun, the cradle of the mount is placed in a horizontal position. To move the gun to the mount, the gunner carries the right spade grip in his left hand and a box of ammunition in his right. The assistant gunner grasps the carrying handle with his left hand and a box of ammunition in his right hand. When they get to the mount, the gunner and assistant gunner place their ammunition boxes near the mount. The gunner removes the rear mounting (gun-locking) pin with his right hand. The assistant gunner removes the front mounting (gun-locking) pin with his right hand. They place the gun on the mount. The gunner aligns the holes in the rear mounting lugs of the receiver with the rear mounting bracket and inserts the rear mounting pin. The assistant gunner aligns the front mounting hole in the front of the receiver with the front mounting bracket and inserts the front mounting pin. (For use of the sideplate trigger with the M63 mount, see TM 9-1005-213-10.)


The machine gun fundamental skills test should be held periodically to ensure that proficiency with the MG is maintained by all crewmen. It consists of 10 fundamental skills; all tasks are hands-on (Figure 5-29). The test should be given prior to range firing on a go/no-go basis.


This phase of training is designed to allow the gunner to apply the fundamentals of marksmanship that he learned earlier. During this training, the gunner is introduced to the basic machine gun target (see Appendix C), procedures for both the 10-meter and field fire ranges, and how to acquire targets. He also fires practice and qualification.


The concept of zero is very simple; it is no more than the best way to adjust the sights of the weapon so the point of aim of the sights and the point of impact of the rounds are the same at any given range. A properly zeroed M2 gives the gunner the highest probability of hit for most combat targets with the least adjustment to the point of aim. There are three methods of zeroing/targeting used with the .50 caliber MG.

a. Ten-meter zero is the basic and the most common method of zeroing the M2 MG. Once zeroed on a 10-meter range using the standard machine gun target, the weapon is ready for field fire. As other weapons, the sight on the M2 must also be set at an initial start point (Figure 5-30). The initial sight setting for field zero is basically the same; except the range setting during field zero will depend on the range to the target, and it is always 1,000 yards for 10 meters.

b. Field zeroing/targeting is an expedient method of obtaining a zero when a 10-meter zero cannot be conducted. When preparing to field zero, make sure the M2 is mounted securely on the M3 tripod, make sure the T&E is working properly, and finally, know the distance to your zero target. The only difference in initial sight setting for field zero is range setting on the scale. The gunner must also remember that the range scale on the M2 is indicated in yards. Therefore, in order to get as close to the target as possible, you may have to convert the meters to the target into yards so you can set the range on the rear sight. Conversion of meters to yards is accomplished by multiplying the number of meters by 1.094. For example, 600 meters x 1.094 = 656.4 yards; the gunner would set his range scale at 650.

c. The AN/TVS 5 is an effective night fire aid. By using this device, the gunner can observe the area and detect and engage any suitable target. But, as usual, the device is only as good as its zero; the zeroing procedure requires practice to become proficient.

He pushes the three locking cams to secure the bracket (Figure 5-33) and closes the top cover assembly.

NOTE: The lens cover with the peephole may be required to prevent scope washout from the muzzle flash.


The purpose of 10-meter firing is to develop skills in the delivery of initial burst on target. When conducted properly, it will train gunners in the basic skills, such as 10-meter zero, controlled bursts, traverse, and traverse and search firing techniques. (See Appendix C for details on setup and conduct of firing.)


Transition day firing of the M2 machine gun will teach the gunner some techniques of fire that he may encounter in combat situations. The gunner will field zero his weapon and engage point and area targets from the tripod-mounted firing position. Within this training, the gunner will be required to apply all the fundamentals of gunnery learned in preparatory gunnery training and 10-meter firing. (See Appendix C for details on the setup and conduct of transition day fire.)


Since NBC plays an important part in our preparation for war on the modern battlefield, it is important that each soldier is prepared to accomplish the mission even if the area is contaminated and he must wear protective gear. (See Appendix C for details on setup and conduct of fire.)


The night fire exercise gives the soldiers the practical application of engaging targets using the AN/TVS-5 at night or during limited visibility. (See Appendix C for details on setup and conduct of fire.)


After firing 10-meter, day, NBC, and night, gunners need practice in applying what they have learned. They also need experience in engaging targets that depict realistic enemy formations. Advanced gunner exercises provide this experience in mounted, mounted NBC, and predetermined firing exercises.


The objectives of the advanced gunnery phase are to prepare the gunners for combat. During this phase, training should be directed toward--


The gunner normally completes instruction in firing at stationary targets before he receives instruction in firing at moving targets. The technique of engaging a moving target differs from that of engaging a stationary target. The gun must be aimed ahead of the moving target a sufficient distance to cause the bullet and target to arrive at the aiming point at the same time. The distance is measured in target lengths. One target length as seen by the gunner is one lead. Leads are measured from the center of mass. The lead depends upon range, speed, and direction of movement of the target. To hit the target, the gunner aims at a point ahead of the target equal to the estimated number of leads, maintains the lead by tracking the target (manipulating the gun at the same angular speed as that of the target), and then fires. Fire is adjusted by observation of strike/tracer (Figure 5-36).

a. Tracking. Tracking consists of maintaining correct alignment of the sights (with or without a lead) on a moving target by moving the gun at the same angular speed as that of the target.

b. Leading. Mathematical computation or use of voluminous lead tables to obtain exact leads on a moving target are impractical in combat. The simple lead table shown in Table 5-3 gives the amount of lead necessary to hit a target moving at right angles (90 degrees) to direction to hit at speeds and ranges indicated.

c. Tracking and Leading. Combined tracking and leading exercises at 10 meters are used to gain proficiency in tracking the target. The gunner is required to repeat the tracking exercise while using a designated lead to simulate firing when his sights are properly aligned. As a further exercise in tracking and leading, the gunner may be required to track and lead moving targets at greater ranges. A vehicle can be run at right angles to the line of aim at ranges between 500 and 1,000 yards, and at varying speeds, averaging 15 miles per hour (Figure 5-37).

d. Conducting the Lead Exercise (10-Meter). The gunner is required to take a position at the gun, swing through the target's silhouette, and aim at a point ahead of the target equal to the prescribed lead from the center of mass. The gunner then directs the target handler to move the marking silhouette until the center of the target is at the point of aim. He repeats this procedure three times for each target lead announced. The target handler places his marking silhouette on the blank background, traces around it, and holds it in place for the gunner to aim, using the prescribed leads. Following the gunner's instructions, he moves the marking silhouette until the gunner commands HOLD. He then places a pencil dot at this point and returns the silhouette to the original position. This procedure is followed until the gunner has completed three tries for each target lead announced. The three pencil dots for each target should fit within a one-centimeter circle. The exercise should be conducted for varying left and right leads.


The purpose of the mounted firing exercise is to teach the gunner techniques of firing the M2 MG from a mounted platform and to develop the gunner's ability to fire the M2 with it mounted on its primary carrier. (See Appendix C for details on the setup and conduct of fire.)


The probability of fighting mounted in a tactical environment that has been contaminated by NBC agents is very likely; therefore, gunners must be trained to engage targets while in a mounted NBC posture. (See Appendix C for details on the setup and conduct of fire.)


The predetermined firing exercises are designed to instruct the gunners on preparing and using range cards during any visibility conditions. (See Appendix C for details on setup and conduct of fire.)