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Remembered Today:

Range Orders for a range practice


Ed ROBINSON

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Greetings Chums, would any one know what commands were used on a rifle range? The modern commands Load= No round in chamber but rounds in mag and safety on. Action= Round in chamber, rounds in mag safety on. Instant= Round in chamber, rounds in mag safety off. I have heard the term 'Load and make ready' is this a proper range order from the period?

Were there standard degrees of weapon readiness? ie Load Action and Instant? 

What degree of weapon readiness would a soldier in a front line trench be at? I suspect Load unless you were on sentry. 

I have read several accounts of accidental discharges in the trenches leading to injury and deaths due to poor weapon safety hence the questions. 

Cheers Ed

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May I suggest you go to You Tube and watch the excellent series on British end Empire rifle practice from the Brown Bess onwards.  Presented by Rob Enfield in Canada it is probably the best researched series on military musketry available.

 

Try this one

 

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In the British Army the discipline concerned was titled ‘Fire Direction and Control’.

The order ‘Make Ready’ was crucial and at that time was in the context of a breech loading rifle that fired single shots, with the movement fed by a charger loaded magazine with a 10-round capacity, but the order’s origins went back to muzzle loaded long arms. It is still used by the British forces today, but has been abbreviated to the simple ‘Ready’.  In essence it was/is the order requiring a round (bullet) to be fed into the breech so that the only action necessary to fire was to release the safety catch with the thumb and operate the trigger with the forefinger, all with the right hand.


Assuming the soldier was on duty in a trench with his rifle, the magazine would routinely be loaded already with a 5-round clip that did not place sustained pressure on the magazine spring.  The order given to draw everyone in the vicinity to the firing step facing the enemy was also an ancient one and delivered loudly with the words ‘Stand To’ (originally ‘stand to your arms’, but by 1914 shortened appropriately).  To prepare to fire he would then receive the order ‘Make Ready’ and carry out the action as explained.

 

Having ‘made ready’ an officer or NCO would then issue fire direction using the following convention:

 

1. At - e.g. ‘300 yards’ (soldier sets his sights and, if 'make ready' not already given, chambers a round).

2. At - e.g. ‘enemy machine gun’* (soldiers eyes drawn to the intended target).

3. ‘Fire’ or ‘Rapid Fire’ (soldier commences firing, ‘palming’ his bolt when the faster rate of reloading and firing is required, and forcing clips into the magazine down the charger guide (grooves) using his right hand).

4. ‘Cease Fire’ when firing is required to stop - (soldier recharges his magazine with clip(s)  and applies safety catch whilst still observing the target area).

5. ‘Rest’ (soldier applies safety catch and adopts an easy position).

6.  ‘Unload’ (soldier extracts any round from chamber, empties the magazine of any remaining clips and awaits further orders). 
 

NB. * targets can also be much more openly described, such as ‘enemy in front’.  The principle is always as few words as is necessary.  When possible, directions as to sighting as well as the target were given before the occasion for firing arose, and fire was opened without further orders as soon as the target appeared.  Orders for adjusting the sights were given first, so that there was no necessity for the firers to remove their eyes from the target after it was indicated, otherwise the order of the words of command was not critical.  Fire orders were to anticipate events as far as possible, so that lengthy orders were not needed after the target appeared. The following is an example of an anticipatory order:

 

‘The enemy is about to advance from that fir-wood on the hill half left. When he moves, concentrate on the thickest part of his line’.

 

Footnote:  "Range practices" were (and are still) generally configured to replicate and practise likely operational encounters, simulating the engagement of a variety of individual and grouped targets, whilst firing from the most commonly used firing positions (postures).

Edited by FROGSMILE
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In many of Rob's videos he will give himself the orders, just as Frogsmile states, it just a matter of finding the right ones.

 

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Many thanks for the replies chaps. The info that I am after is what were the commands on a rifle range with the Lee Enfield?

I am ex Australian Army and the commands for the SLR and M16 were Load, Action, Instant & Unload. Were the range orders simply  'Make ready or just ready, followed by the fire order then unload at the completion?

Trenches: Frogsmile, thanks for the tip about the 5 rounds in the mag. That makes sense. I just assumed 10 rounds. Would the blokes in the trenches have been at the load condition or action? I suspect that it would depend on the unit standing orders. 

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This is from the trench standing orders for the Canadian Corps.  I suspect orders for British, Australian and Indian troops were pretty much identical.

 

596589501_CanadiancorpsTrenchstandingorders.png.34f8df484a07860bc99d50ad489478dd.png

 

 

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22 hours ago, Ed ROBINSON said:

Many thanks for the replies chaps. The info that I am after is what were the commands on a rifle range with the Lee Enfield?

I am ex Australian Army and the commands for the SLR and M16 were Load, Action, Instant & Unload. Were the range orders simply  'Make ready or just ready, followed by the fire order then unload at the completion?

Trenches: Frogsmile, thanks for the tip about the 5 rounds in the mag. That makes sense. I just assumed 10 rounds. Would the blokes in the trenches have been at the load condition or action? I suspect that it would depend on the unit standing orders. 

 

I have already answered your question, Ed, but perhaps I can render it a little simpler by using modern terms for the sequence of Fire Orders, which was namely: Range, Indication of target, Type of Fire.   To reiterate what I tried to explain above, the fire orders on the range were no different to those in the field, other than that one might also refer to ‘targets’ rather than enemy.  In essence on the range then:

 

1. 'At 300 yards' (soldier sets sights and, if not already done, makes 'ready' by chambering a round).

2. 'At the targets/enemy in front' (soldier takes aim at target(s)).

3. 'Fire', '3 Rounds Independent Fire', 'Rapid Fire' - as ordered by the officer or NCO (soldier opens fire as ordered and or continues until told otherwise).

 

You might find these contemporary pamphlets that go into more detail of interest:

1.   https://virtualexhibit.marlboroughmuseum.org.nz/ww1/0000_100_0524_the_musketry_teacher_for_web.pdf

2.  https://www.gutenberg.org/files/56395/56395-h/56395-h.htm

 

Footnote:  It has struck me whilst attempting to answer your questions how detrimental it is that the Old Commonwealth/Dominion Nations have diverged with their musketry orders from what was once a powerful, joint modus operandi.  During two World Wars and the Korean War the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and British forces all sang from the same common song sheet when it came to musketry.  It meant that common endeavour was largely effortless in terms of low level procedures.  Unfortunately, perhaps, the engagement by ANZAC forces in the Vietnam War, alongside the US Armed Forces, led to a natural attempt to coordinate drills at the tactical level that can be argued to have had consequences that make it more difficult to work with more traditional and historical allies.  The outcome seems to be that you don't understand the system used by the magnificent ANZAC of WW1, and I don't recognise very much of the terms that you have quoted (apart from 'make ready'/'ready')

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thanks chaps, Bordercollie with the info on the trenches and Frogsmile for the link to the pam. That explains it nicely. It would appear that the load condition in WW1 is what we  now call the Action condition.

Ive just had a quick scan through the pam, most of the techniques are still used today with slight variations and terminology . Looking forward to a good close look at it over the next week.

Cheers Ed 

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