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M1921 Range Cartridge


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The Aiming Device was known as a "coaching device" and was used in two ways. The object of course is that an instructor or another trainee can view what the shooter is seeing. During dry firing the coach would determine if the shooter was getting proper sight alignment; rear sight, front sight and target.


During live firing the coach could observe any errors the shooter was making that were sometimes masked by the recoil of the rifle. The most common error was known "bucking" the recoil, that is anticipating the recoil and moving the shoulder just before the shot was fired. The other most common error was jerking the trigger rather than a smooth pull through. Both these and other errors could be detected by the coach carefully watching the sight alignment through the aimong devise.


These aiming devises must have been used as early as 1942 to train the large number of enlistees and draftees. There is a similar devise for the M1903 and M1903A1 rifle sight.


Another devise of sorts used to detect errors that a shooter was making was the M1921 Range Dummy. The round was identical to the ball round except there was no propellant in the primer or the case, and a small groove was cut into case just forward of the extracting groove for identification. The instructor mixed the round in with ball rounds and any movement on the part of the trainee was evident because there was no recoil to mask the error(s). This round was made limited standard in 1938 so how many were around for WWII is unknown. It is likely that most of the WWII range instructors did not know the round ever existed.


Another way the Army and Marine Corps trained men to get sight alignment was to use caliber .22 rifles for preliminary rifle training. For men unaccustomed to firing small arms this was a way to get them comfortable with sight alignment and trigger squeeze without the recoil of a .30 caliber to distract them.


Some of you may be surprised that the Army and Marines found that a large portion of the men that came into the service in 1898 and after had never fired a rifle or pistol, or rode a horse. The industrial revolution started in the U.S. in the 1880s and changed the balance of people involved with agriculture and living in rural areas to the workers in industries.


Theodore Roosevelt recognized this and recruited soldiers for the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry from the areas where men with experience with horses and guns would reduce the training time. Alvin York was soon identified as a fine rifleman and was put to work training other recruits to get basic marksmanship as quickly as possible.


I'm not aware of any attempt by the military at any time to transfer unqualified men to other duties. Apparently the idea was that a guy shooting in the general direction of the enemy is just as likely to make hits as not.


Much of the marksmanship skill was soon lost in combat. Most men preferred volume of fire over aimed fire. There are of course times when the situation calls for superiority of fire to suppress enemy fire. This was most often used in the assault and was particularly important to the AEF in WWI. The M1918 B.A.R. and M1918 pistol (Pedersen Device) were two ways the Army intended to increase fire volume to gain superiority of fire while advancing on fixed positions. In the absence of a suitable light (mobile) machine gun the Army and Marines were issued the French Chauchat. The Army had rejected the Lewis MG early in the war and could have had a far superior light MG than the Chauchat. The BAR arrived with the later divisions and was little used in combat.


Here are pics of a M-1921 Range Dummy from my collection. Thanks, Al Hirschler in Dallas.



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