Darien, Ill. –
"The Army is basically in a stop-movement configuration... Number one, we're real careful about where we congregate, where we go. Number two, we're very, very careful of making sure we don't become vectors, we don't spread this virus, because we went to the wrong place, we got in too-big a group, we were shaking hands when we shouldn't have done it, we've been traveling in places which may have had more exposure to the virus... Unless you get clear authority to conduct a battle assembly, you're not doing it. We need to avoid congregating and prevent the spread of COVID-19."
- COVID-19 Guidance, Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey
Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including avoiding close contact with people who are sick. This prevents gathering for Battle Assembly or training but telecommuting and Distributed Learning remains an ideal option. The Army Reserve Postal Match Program is a type of Distributed Learning in that Soldiers and units conduct locally-hosted events as part of a larger, Reserve-wide aggregate. Using simulators allows this to done remotely while still providing objective skill development.
The current Training Circulars dictating small arms training (TC 3-20.0 and TC 3-20.40) direct units to Maximize Virtual Systems to augment live fire training and that Table II (Preliminary Live-Fire Simulations) is ideally a simulations-based demonstration of the Soldiers’ performance while applying the primary capabilities of their weapon in a virtual environment. Motivated Soldiers interested in competition and other advanced training can readily benefit from systems affordable for home use. This is especially useful for conducting effective training while satisfying the directive from Army Reserve leadership to avoid becoming a COVID-19 vector.
Spc. Dan Lowe, 175th TC Co. (79th Sustainment Support Command), is an Olympian and member of the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program. On the civilian side he runs Firing Line Solutions and uses a Shooting Trainer for practice at home. "Given the COVID-19 Guidance, I started the 2020 Corona Cup, a series of Postal Matches using simulators," said Spc. Lowe. "There are matches for international rifle, Service rifle, and sporter air rifle."
These trainers are a popular simulator for competition shooters that uses an optical sensor attached to the gun that gives real-time, visual feedback via support software running on a laptop or other computer. "I’m practicing my standing position by dropping onto the target, using my simulator at home in my pajamas. It’s all starting to make sense. I’m still waiting for my trigger control coaching, so I don’t mind the 10.0’s for now," said competition shooter and Registered Nurse Michelle Adams. "I have targets for Air Rifle [as shot in the Olympics] and scaled SR targets used in Service Rifle."
Christopher Moriarty competes in Service Rifle with his daughter, Shannon. Using a simulator, she earned a High Power Master classification with less than a year of consistent training. "The most important piece of learning to read the wind in Service Rifle is shooting centered and accurately called shots. If you're shooting itty-bitty groups in the center, you've got most of a minute of wind error before you start losing points. If you're using the whole 10 ring, a 1 minute wind error might result in a dead center shot... or a shot well into the 8 ring. It's really hard to notice that your wind call was off by a minute when sometimes it's a pinwheel, and sometimes it's an 8!," said Christopher Moriarty. "The simulator taught me that my hold and squeeze can be sub MOA in the X, but result in a wide 7 due to followthrough."
Chief Warrant Officer Andy Knote, 316th ESC (Military Intelligence Readiness Command), is a Distinguished shooter competing with the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program since 2005 and uses another home-based trainer for similar effect called the MantisX. "Dry fire is the most essential marksmanship training, but it can get boring - thus losing effectiveness - really fast. MantisX offers a way to make dry fire training more interesting, allows us to capture the data for analysis, and provides us the data to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely training goals." To handle training with firearms lacking a Picatinny rail, Chief Knote created a configuration using strong adhesive tape and a small rail attached to a magazine, an option that has since been adopted by the company as a standard accessory.
Master Sgt. Russell Moore (416th TEC), NCOIC of the Army Reserve Service Conditions (Combat) Team and multiple All Army Champion, is assisting with a push for more locally-hosted Best Warrior Competition events as another option. "The Best Warrior Competition provides a platform for Soldiers to demonstrate their lethality skills and knowledge against the best the USAR has to offer. Without the ability to run host Company and Battalion events, organizers must get creative while maintaining consistency, uniformity, and difficulty," said Master Sgt. Moore. "In regard to the marksmanship piece, there are several USAR-issued and purchasable solutions to assist in selecting your unit's Best Warrior and to help increase their readiness and lethality. Systems such as the Laser Shot, EST 2000/3000, and the legacy Laser Marksmanship Training System (LMTS) have been in our inventory for years. Additionally, there are commercial devices available on GSA Advantage that can provide individuals an excellent array of skill building and scored practical exercises using the standard M4 and M9. Soldiers can be videoed executing these marksmanship tasks as well as other incorporated physical activities. By using a streaming video service, Soldiers can be evaluated and scored without coming in contact with too many others."
Simulations devices are an effective means to conduct training at low cost and are required by Army doctrine. Home-based simulators are affordable for individuals while providing objective scoring remotely and away from the range. Combined with a Distributed Learning approach such as the Army Reserve Postal Match Program and locally-hosted Best Warrior Competition, this offers training when Soldiers can't congregate.