As a quick follow up to the article on zeroing your iron sights, I wanted to share this video. It’s a USMC Primary Marksmanship Instructor teaching about zeroing the M16A2 rifle. He makes a few points that I want to address after.
There are a lot of little tidbits in there that make for a good discussion. For example, the instructor’s comments on battlesight zero focused exclusively on a 300-meter BZO.
Check out my article on improved battlesight zeros (RIBZ) to get a better grasp of the concept. There are way more options out there than 300 meters. You only need to slip the elevation drum on the standard carry handle sights just a bit to allow the sight to work at 50, 100, and 200 meters.
Another interesting point in the video came from range estimation with the front sight post.
The instructor mentions that the M16A2 front sight post is about the width of a man’s shoulders at 300 meters. That does not include the “wings” of the AR-15 front sight, just the small post itself.
That technique enables you to get a quick range estimation. If aiming at a man and the body is narrower than the front sight, he is further than 300 meters. Wider than the front sight post? Then he’s closer than 300 and you should use your BZO.
The problem with that method is focusing. Since you can only focus on the target or the front sight, not both at the same time, one of the two becomes blurry. As you get past 300 meters, range estimation grows increasingly more important since the bullet drops at a faster rate. Also, keep in mind that this technique works best with a rifle-length sight radius.
Range estimation techniques deserve its own post, but for now, I’ll share something else. I came across this slide from the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course at Ft. Benning.
Practice Like You Play
The instructor in the video mentions 782 “Deuce” gear. That’s a Marine term for their equipment. Included in that term
The instructor tells the class that wearing all of that gear will affect their marksmanship, and he’s right. Not only does a lot of that stuff make positions more awkward to obtain, but it also affects balance and fatigue.
The answer isn’t always practice wearing all the kit, though.
Here’s a proven concept that we all as tactical shooters can use to ‘Train to Win’. Every organized sports team in the country (especially the ones that win) use a similar concept to train. Football teams don’t go full speed in pads everyday in practice. That would be the conventional shooter’s wisdom of “train like you fight”. What they do instead is break down individual skill sets and train them to perfection. Then they’ll put on the pads and put all those things together and scrimmage. They take note of what went well and what didn’t go well, and then they take off the pads and train again. When it comes game time they are prepared to WIN.– Frank Proctor
That quote came from well-known firearms trainer Frank Proctor. John Buol posted the whole excerpt. In short, train your fundamentals and slowly add in the other elements until you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He’s former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He’s a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.