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Choice of the US Army Marksmanship Unit
                                                      ...and other World Class Shooters

 

Presenting the ST-2000 In Action...

 

Noptel 2000, a comprehensive shooting training system
Soldiers in numerous countries use Noptel 2000 products for teaching shooting skills at various levels from recruits to specialists such as snipers.

More than just hardware or computer software is required for the efficient training of professionals. Based on 20 years' experience of working with prominent customers worldwide, we have developed a small arms shooting training concept, Noptel 2000, which serves as a platform for the training of armed forces. The concept itself covers the whole chain of exercises needed to develop a satisfactory level of shooting skills and uses the latest hi-tech to implement an efficient and safe but at the same time realistic training environment in practice.

 

Introduction UP

It would appear on the basis of long-term observations that little importance is attached world-wide to the shooting skills of infantrymen nowadays, and consequently little emphasis is placed on their training. This would seem strange, since the rifle is the soldier's most important item of personal equipment, the main tool of his trade, so that one would think that skill in its use would be a matter of top priority. The idea behind this attitude is presumably that automatic fire is overwhelmingly more effective than precisely aimed rifle fire in traditional face-to-face combat situations.

training For reference, it may be noted that the bullet count per hit in the Vietnam War was more than double that in the Second World War. This reflects something of the change in style and tactics that took place between those two wars, and perhaps also points to a decline in shooting skills. A further aspect that arises increasingly often in discussions with those responsible for military shooting training in many countries is a lack of skill on the part of shooting trainers themselves. They are themselves products of an urban society and have not practiced shooting in their youth to the same extent as the recruits of earlier times.

It is also evident, however, that the situations in which soldiers are expected to use their weapons are increasingly becoming dominated by small-scale skirmishes in urban centers or on their peripheries. The mounting of a broad-scale infantry frontline "somewhere out there" in the manner of the world wars is (fortunately) not a very likely prospect at the present time.

situation And this being the case, one would imagine that, above all, personal skills in the use of a rifle would be at a premium. It is not simply a matter of technical skill, of course, but also of the increased self-confidence that mastery of this skill can bring with it and the overall improvement in combat readiness that this entails. A soldier who is uncertain in his command of this basic skill is unlikely to be capable of optimal performance in other aspects of warfare.

Information gleaned from various countries suggests that a large diversity exists in the numbers of hours spent on shooting practice during basic shooting, involving the firing of 10 - 400 live cartridges per trainee. If a soldier has fired a total of 10 live cartridges in the course of his training without any complementary methods being used, one can predict the outcome without any far-reaching research into the subject.

What is an adequate level of practice? UP

When practicing by traditional methods, the skill achieved will be closely correlated with the number of live rounds fired, and thereby with training time. Differences may arise, of course, e.g. depending on the skills of the trainers, but it is resources that ultimately count. It is obvious that the level of skill achieved will be greater if trainees are firing hundreds of practice shots than if they settle for a few dozen.

practice In practice the optimum relation of quantity to quality is determined by whether the trainee is able to achieve an acceptable score in shooting trials. On the other hand, what is an acceptable score will usually be decided empirically on the grounds of what it is possible to achieve with the amount of practice provided, so that the argument is a circular one. Unfortunately it is impossible in matters of shooting to lay down an absolute score that will guarantee success in a real-life situation, and there is always a danger that a fixed qualifying score can develop into a Trojan Horse or lure the soldier into a false sense of security.

It is possible in the context of shooter training, however, to make sure that the practice is efficient and covers a wide variety of situations, provided that one is profoundly aware of the boundary constraints on shooting practice and is prepared to invest time and energy in new methods.

resources As the resources available (trainers, time and money) are in many respects a compromise, it would be unrealistic to assume any abrupt increase in them, even if the authorities responsible were to appreciate the importance of this matter. On the contrary, the universal trend seems to be towards a cutback in resources. The duration of national service is being systematically reduced, the numbers of shooting ranges are being cut down, trainers' personal skills are declining and economies are being demanded in defense budgets.

What needs to be done? UP

If we want to promote good shooting skills, or at least retain existing levels, the only possibility lies in increasing the efficiency of current training programs. This implies in effect improvements in terms of training methods and equipment.

The military shooting environment UP

environment It is necessary at the outset to define what elements really belong to the soldier's shooting skills and their development. This question is easy to answer when we think of the real-life situation in which he needs these skills, i.e. war. He should be able to use his rifle efficiently in all possible environmental situations (remembering that wars are mainly conducted out of doors!), by day and by night, against stationary or moving targets, when either standing still or moving himself, and with other gunfire going on around him. The natural conclusion to be drawn from this is that such conditions and requirements should be taken into consideration during training.

The psychology of the acquisition of skills UP

As with any other skill, that of shooting has to be built up gradually from first principles. Some useful advice can be extracted from research into the acquisition of skills.

  • In the first place, it should be remembered that a person must be able to concentrate on one thing at a time when learning a complex skill.
  • Secondly, care should be taken that there are enough successful repetitions to ensure that performance becomes as automatic as possible.
  • Thirdly, it should be remembered that as many repetitions are needed to eliminate something that has been learned wrongly as it originally took to learn it.
  • It should be borne in mind that provision of the most direct and immediate feedback possible, preferably in real time, will make learning more efficient.
  • Additionally, it is worthwhile making sure that extraneous interference factors are eliminated as far as possible when developing individual aspects of the skill.
  • Finally, attention should be paid to motivation for practising, as a lack of motivation can frustrate even the most sophisticated training system.

Noptel 2000, a comprehensive shooting training system UP

Noptel Oy, which was the first company in the world to market optoelectronic systems for shooting training and analysis, the ST-1000 and ST-2000 families of products, is now able to offer a comprehensive military shooting training system, the Noptel 2000.

The system comprises training management facilities, training methods, equipment and software. This is a progressive method that also provides further instruction for training personnel.

The overall Noptel 2000 model for the development of military shooting skills is presented in Figures 1 and 2. The only aspects left outside the system are the simulation of war conditions (CTC/TES) and actual war. Even simulated war is in any case no longer simply a matter of developing shooting skills as much as testing the level of soldiers' skills under simulated wartime conditions.

Noptel 2000 consept

Figure 1 Noptel 2000, Small Arms Shooting Training Concept

The steps in shooting training allowed for in the Noptel 2000 system are:

1. Basic Shooting (BS)
2. Range Shooting (RS)
3. Action Shooting (AS)
4. Combat Shooting (CS)

The following picture illustrates the phases of the training and the equipment recommended by Noptel.

Noptel 2000 consept

Figure 2 Phases of shooting training according to the Noptel 2000 concept

The characteristic features of these phases are (see also Table 1):

1. Basic Shooting, BS UP

basic Trainees learn the principles of handling a rifle and shooting under in short-range conditions indoors, with no recoil or using a compressed air recoil system. By the end of this training period the soldier should appreciate the importance of shooting position, hold, aim and trigger control and should be capable of achieving suitably consistent results. The phase relies on the use of optoelectronic training devices attached to the trainees' own rifles and objective performance analysis providing immediate audio-visual feedback. Some people have criticized the lack of real recoil, but in fact the hard recoil is merely a distraction in basic training and even PROHIBITS some soldiers from learning to shoot.

2. Range Shooting, RS UP

range In the second phase the soldiers are taken outside to practice under normal shooting range conditions and to continue training in varying environments, still with the same training equipment but at realistic distances. Optoelectronic training systems with or without recoil are used at this stage. Once their skills have developed sufficiently, they are allowed to use live ammunition and to shoot a test round with it. Objective analysis still forms an important part of the practice regime, and it is possible to return to the Basic Shooting stage if necessary. By the end of the basic and range training phases the trainees should have adequate marksmanship shooting skills.

3. Action Shooting, AS UP

action This is the stage at which the skills acquired on the previous phases are applied to conditions equivalent to those prevailing in military action, which implies training in varying situations, with stationary or moving targets and with the shooter either standing still or moving. This can again be done with optoelectronics using dry fire, although it is more common to use blanks or transportable pressure air system. Again it is possible to return to the previous phases if necessary. Hit and miss information is provided by means of pop-up targets. Live ammunition is used mainly for test purposes.

4. Combat Shooting, CS UP

combat At the last stage of training the soldiers are placed in small-scale combat situations in groups (squads etc). Both defensive and offensive exercises are executed. The trainees are also allowed to "shoot" at each other using optoelectronic equipment, mostly in combination with blanks or using a pressure air recoil system. It is at this stage that tactics come into the picture for the first time, although the main emphasis continues to be on shooting performance.

The purpose of this combat shooting is to broaden the range of situations in which the shooter can perform and to prepare the soldiers for simulated combat exercises, and naturally also for service under wartime conditions.

By the time he has completed field training phases, the soldier is ready for actual military duties as far as shooting techniques are concerned.

Summary UP

In summary, it may be stated that the Noptel 2000 shooting training system employs predominantly optoelectronic training equipment and blanks or compressed air recoil systems, so that live ammunition is used mostly for testing purposes and to accustom trainees to combat situations. The following facts are relevant as far as resources are concerned. Broadly speaking, the training sessions are divided equally between range and field practice, so that at least 2/3 of the shots can be fired with a training device, and at least 1/2 of these can be electronically executed. This means that, overall, 1/3 of all the shots fired in training can be entirely optical shots (dry fire or with pressure air recoil), 1/3 can be fired with blanks and 1/3 with live ammunition.

detailed Thus it would be possible to increase the total number of shots fired by a half relative to the present situation and still halve the amount of live ammunition used, achieving considerable savings and noticeable improvements in the results of training. Similarly the increase in the total number of shots fired could be accomplished within the same training timetable as applies at present, as harmless practice situations do not call for the same degree of organization, costs and time-consuming delays as do exercises that involve live ammunition. The table on the next page summarizes the content of the Noptel 2000 concept.

The Noptel 2000 training concept concentrates on the development of soldiers' shooting skills. This is achieved by advanced measuring techniques, which makes it possible to analyze the skill of the trainee in detail. Unlike the many simulators offered at the market, Noptel's products are separate training aids, which are attached to the soldier's own rifle (or pistol). Realism of the training is achieved by executing the exercises in real environments instead of simulating them.

Phases and objectives

Table 1. Phases and objectives in military shooting training.