TRAINING IN THE USE OF THE RIFLE FOR TRENCH WARFARE.
1. Training in the use of the rifle includes that of the bayonet. Fire action is alone treated in this paper, instruction in the use of the bayonet having already been discussed elsewhere.
2. The rifleman in the trenches, no less than in the open, requires as preliminary preparation the courses of individual and combat instruction prescribed in the Small Arms Firing Manual. The object of this paper is not to supersede any portion of this manual, but to supplement it by stressing those features of trench rifle fire that the experience of actual war has shown to be possessed of an importance that was not fully appreciated when the manual was prepared. So far as rifle fire exclusively from trenches is concerned, the importance of individual aimed fire up to the range of 400 yards is the principal feature that has been so developed by the peculiar conditions prevailing on the “western front” during the present European war, and the training that needs to be stressed naturally comes under the head of “individual instruction.” There is also a second feature, essential to efficient collective firing either from trenches or in the open, that has never received the attention in our authorized manuals that its importance merits, though that importance has long been recognized and has been ably treated at the School of Musketry. It is that of the necessity for satisfactory working methods of describing targets. The growth of this necessity has been coincident with the development of fire discipline, direction, and control.
3. The special importance of individual aimed fire in trench warfare has been developed in Europe during the present war in connection with what is there termed “sniping,” which has become a specially important and highly technical service, though it is merely a development of what has long been known and practiced in the United States under the name of “sharpshooting.” A consideration of some of the conditions under which “sniping” is conducted will assist in emphasizing its importance and in indicating the special qualifications and instruction essential to efficiency.