Monday, June 1, 2009

1942 War Department Marksmanship films

Via the very interesting Open Source Movies site, here is a World War II M1 Garand marksmanship film. It's two hours (one hour each for part 1 and part 2), so bring popcorn. FYI, part 2 will start automagically when part 1 ends. They also have the War Department's How To Shoot The US Army Rifle, in a monster 37 MB PDF download, along with manuals for snap shooting and sighting.

If you like, you can download MPEG4 to watch on your iPod video, or various other formats. Or you can watch it here. Pull up another chair; there's plenty of room.

Part 1 covers:
  • Sighting and aiming
  • Trigger squeeze
  • Breathing
  • Principles of rapid fire
Part 2 covers:
  • Sight adjustment and windage
  • Zeroing
I thought that part 2 was an outstanding introduction to windage. I speak as a n00b who needs a spell checker to spell "windage" (I see that Blogger also needs some help in this department as well).

The film is chock full of great content about shooting the Garand, and is the sort of thing that the Appleseed folks are trying to keep alive. It's also interesting from a historical perspective. For example, this was long before PowerPoint (or even Microsoft, duh), so the presentation didn't have slides. They had to make their own transitions by peeling off pieces of paper that had been covering up the next line of info.

It's also full (mostly at the very end of each part) with folksy exhortations to the troops: "A good soldier is a live soldier", "Every hit means that your country has one less enemy", "It doesn't take a professor to calculate these settings", and my personal favorite, "This man's Army believes in cooperation".

It's also from the period in our history when there was a real effort being made to standardize an American accent. Think the accent used in newsreals. "Immediately" pronounced im-EEG-it-lee instead of im-EE-dee-it-lee. I found this at once charming (in a dead-history sort of way) and distracting (in a dead-history sort of way).

I've seen a lot of training in my time, and given my share, too. This is very, very clear, with practical examples for literally everything shown. I'm actually quite impressed. It was obviously intended to be watched by practical men who may not have had much education, and I'd think succeeded admirably. It also reflects some of the prejudice of that time (and perhaps ours as well): I wonder what men from West Virginia thought when they watched the Hillbilly scene about Kentucky Windage (beginning of part 2).

One thing that struck me (from my own near-death experiences with the Garand) is that the M1 rifles shown here did not automatically close the breech after a new clip was loaded. Could they have been modified to remain open? Having been up close and personal with "Garand Thumb", this really jumped out at me when I was watching.

If you're a rifleman (or want to be one), you'll learn a lot from these.

And well done to the folks at Open Source Movies. I'm going spelunking at their site to see what other great old stuff they have.

UPDATE 1 June 2009 21:45: Welcome visitors from Snarky Bytes. Take a look around - if you like it, it's free! If you don't, well, I guess it's still free.

UPDATE 1 June 2009 22:02: If you didn't come here from Snarky Bytes, he also has some World War II films, in color.

UPDATE 2 June 2009 08:16: Welcome visitors from Traction Control and Gunbloggers!


Anonymous said...

Whether the bolt closes immediately or not depends on the rifle.

Mine generally doesn't. When you press the clip in place, the bolt pops a little bit but stops moving forward as soon as it contacts the back of the top round. I have to slap it home with my palm.

Most Garands that I've seen operate this way. The ones that bite you either have a very smooth action, or a very strong op rod spring...but even if yours doesn't generally close on you, you've still got to be aware of it because they all have the capability of mercilessly crushing your thumb when the stars are aligned and the grease flows "just so".

Anonymous said...

BTW: Thanks for the links, I'm going to give them a gander.

NotClauswitz said...

Mine will close upon insertion, so I keep the heel of my hand against the op-rod handle - I too have had The Thumb. Woot, my club's Garand Match is coming up!

Northwest Minuteman said...

Excellent blog!

Borepatch said...

Curt, thanks for the info. Sadly, I'm Garand-less (at least for now), so this is good background info. I can say that both Garands that I've had the pleasure of handling tried to bite me.

Dirtcrashr, ouch! Post pix of the match (hint, hint).

Minuteman, thanks!

none said...

Thanks for the link! I really enjoy shooting my garand and I could use some tips for long distance shooting.

Anonymous said...

I watched the whole thing yesterday.

Great stuff, thanks.

It's almost funny how much you forget over time...watching the videos reminded me of some of the nuances of the positions that I hadn't thought about for years.

I loved the part when they were talking about the use of the sling where they mentioned "what if you have Jerrys or Japs shooting at you? Don't use the sling!!! You use the sling if you have time to set it up, but if you don't..."

That was one of arguments that went around about the Appleseed shoots and teaching that style of shooting. It's important to know HOW to use the sling properly because it can make an amazing difference in your accuracy when used correctly...but that's not to say that using the sling is an absolute necessity or that you have to use it every time you pull the trigger.

It's just another tool in the tool box, to be used when appropriate.

Also the wind estimating and correction stuff was a great refresher.

Some information is simply timeless. Thanks again for the links.

Anonymous said...

"what if you have Jerrys or Japs shooting at you? Don't use the sling!!! You use the sling if you have time to set it up, but if you don't..."
That wasn't an exact quote, but a paraphrase from memory and didn't come out very well.

They weren't saying to never use the sling in battle, what they were saying is that if you're under fire and don't have time to set up your sling, don't worry about it. Use the sling if you have time to set it up, but if you don't, it's more important to return fire quickly, even if you aren't as accurate as you could be.

Bob said...

In Clint Eastwood's latest film Gran Torino, Clint's character has to slap home the bolt after loading the Garand that he uses to chase gangbangers away (Get off my lawn!).

Robert Langham said...

What a film and what a voice by the narrator. Soldiers these days never see a leather sling, though you can use an old USGI web as well.

Every soldier ought to watch this video. M16 has a pretty good iron sight adjustable for windage and elevation on the back.

Robert Langham said...

I want one of those hats and they don't seem to be available anywhere, even as surplus.

Paladin said...

I LOVE this stuff... and I don't even own a Garand. Still lots of good info in general, and an interesting watch to boot.

"You can't shoot with a loose loop.."

Say THAT three times fast! :)