3 Pillars of the Parachute Regiment - Fieldcraft

Snows

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I remember this clearly from training, and I definitely heard it used by others in Bn. But joining here made me look through my best book from recruits, and I can't find it anywhere. Anyone who has more recently been in, are these still used?

3 Pillars of the Parachute Regiment
Fitness
Fieldcraft
Marksmanship

As far as advice on the forum goes: lots of fitness advice, and marksmanship isn't something you can really practice in the UK. So that leaves fieldcraft.

What advice do trained blokes have for potential recruits to get a headstart in fieldcraft? Obviously with more people living in urban environments these days, the traditional green skills are less familiar and often pretty hard for people to pick up just during training. Advance competence in fieldcraft is as much of an advantage in depot as fitness.

My top suggestion to get started: go walking at night with no light, preferably in the country if possible.

Much of your most difficult nav and fieldcraft is going to be done at night. Moving, navigating, just seeing accurately at night is a real skill that comes with experience. With that experience you will physically see things differently to someone who is inexperienced, particularly when tired - this is to do with how your brain translates incomplete images in darkness. Inexperienced blokes tend to hallucinate or see things that aren't there: this leads them to get lost, become confused, and move loudly.

Being comfortable moving around at night, particularly in difficult, dark areas like woods, is a big advantage that will show you as a bloke with squared away fieldcraft. The only way to do this is to practice, even if you feel a bit stupid going for night walks just because. When you end up being consistently picked by your peers to be lead scout, it will pay massive dividends - there's a good chance that guy wins top recruit.

Tips:
- Learn to see by defocusing your eyes. Night vision works using the parts of your retina on the edges, not the parts directly pointed at something. Look off to the side to see a thing more clearly at night, and move your focus around it to build up a picture.
- Learn to connect familiar objects by day with how they look at night. This builds up a database of images in your mind that allows you to see things accurately at night, which limits hallucinations. The pale faces of your enemy sneaking up on you in the dark are probably actually sheep, and your mate in helmet cam hasn't been taking a piss for 30 minutes, that's a tree (both real examples)
- Learn to estimate sizes to identify what objects are. The man in a light top hanging around that tree in your target area 300m away is either 3ft tall, or, more likely, another sheep (also real example).
- Practice counting pace while you move, it's the key skill to knowing how far you have traveled in the dark.
- Practice walking with your weight on your back foot, and placing your front foot carefully. This is quieter, and when you inevitably put a foot wrong, means you are less likely to fall noisily forward, rather than more quietly back (a.k.a. the 'patrol collapse').
- Learn to fall over quietly and safely (to the side, up the incline, on the weight you are carrying rather than fighting it). Ditches get everyone sooner or later, the scheming, tricksy bastards.
- Observe how sound travels further at night, and identify the kind of sounds you make that are obvious indications of a person moving. Equally, observe what covers sound (running water, for example) and how to use it to move quietly.
- Observe how animals react to your presence, and how to reduce or react to startling them, or avoid routing through where they are likely to be.
 

Mackers

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Yep I passed out in 2017 and the three pillars are still taught and you’ll see posters in the corridors about it.
 

Big_Shep

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Great points and I can attest that ditches get the best of us.
Work on your balance would be my tip. It is essential to silent movement and this is often easier to maintain if the knees are slightly bent and the arms are carried low. From this position it is easy to drop to cover if necessary.

With regards to estimating sizes it’s important to practice looking at things at different ranges. I’m rusty but maybe @Snows can help but I was taught that the amount of visible detail of an adult male for example at various ranges gives a good indication of the distance they are away.
Something like this ; At 100 metres - clear in all detail. Able to make out clear features.
At 200 metres - clear in all detail, colour of skin and any equipment is identifiable. I.e rifle
At 300 metres - clear body outline, face colour good remaining detail becoming blurred.
At 400 metres - body outline clear, remaining detail blurred.
At 500 metres - body begins to taper, head becomes indistinct.
At 600 metres - body now blurry and non shaped, no head apparent.

It’s something you can all practice and start getting used to
 

Blisters

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With distances they teach or at least used to teach the bracketing technique. Bit wishy washy but it’s just learning to call averages. If you estimate the maximum feasible distance to the target and then the minimum possible distance. The actual distance should be set midway between the two.
 

Snows

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Great point, rangefinding often screws with guys heads.

Reality is that most rangefinding you do is quick and simple, and doesn't need to be that accurate. Appearance method (@Big_Shep describes above), bracketing (@Blisters), halving (estimating half the distance to target and multiplying it by 2), and reference (length of X of a familiar length, like 3 x football fields) can all be used as an individual. To be honest I find section average (ask the section, sum together, divide by number in section - or, quicker, just take the median / middle value) is remarkably accurate and often best.

Individually, even for more deliberate accurate rangefinding, 9/10 times you use your optics (weapon sights). Almost all modern optics have mildot or reticule measurements, and since the sight is usually at least 4x magnification, you can be accurate out to 4x the range of visual estimation. ACOG is great for this, you rarely need to use anything else. All you need to do is read the manual of your optics to understand which bit to use, or talk to your SAA instructor. Even the SUSAT has the base width of the triangle which you can use to judge the distance of a known object.

For more advanced, deliberate stuff (recce, snipers, gun groups, mortars), there are methods of accurately calculating distance from 500-5000m which theoretically work without aides like optics, but in practice are pretty inaccurate if you try. Everyone uses optics. Basic principle is called subtension, which just means that relative sizes stay the same, and trigonometry means you can use two known sizes (one local to the target, one close to you) to calculate the distance to an object. The known close size is something like (theoretically) the width of your thumb when held out at the full extent of your arm, or (practically) the mildot measurements in your optics sight picture. The known local size is something like a doorway (approx. 1m), car ( 2-door approx 2.5m, 4-door approx 4m), or lampost (approx 5m high in UK residential area), objects which have limited ranges of size. From this you create range tables which compare your local and close sizes, and have a distance for each: e.g. a doorway measuring 1 mildot is 400m away. You create the tables on something like an 800m or sniper's range, putting objects of the correct local size on the point, and then moving out to the different ranges and recording the close sizes at each distance. You can also do it by using Google Earth or a car mileometer if you have a suitable open area. This both gives you an easy reference table rather than making calculations (and mistakes) on the hoof. You also need to know and adjust for the common traps of visual estimation like differences in height, angle and profile.

Subtension is pretty accurate, and having the tables on you makes it reasonably quick, but requires preparation and, of course, experience. Also, I just tried my old visual only (no optics) tables on the area around me and compared to Google Earth, and they are wildly inaccurate past 1000m. Of course, having a 4x magnification optic makes that accurate out to 4km, which is pretty useful for a basic rifle scope. I don't think it's worth posting the method here, because it's a lot of time for not much utility in recruit training. However, this method here is pretty simple, works without optics at small ranges, and uses the same principle:

Put your thumb out at arm's length, close one eye, put it at the base of object (doorway, window, lampost) of known width Y, open eye and close other eye. Your thumb will appear to jump X distance. Calculate distance by:

Distance = X x Y x 10

Beyond 5000m, you're in the realm of forward observers, JTACs and artillery, who will all assure you that they are trained to calculate exact ranges in their heads using just a stick and a piece of string, but funnily enough always seem to use their MAGIC LASER BOX FULL OF SPELLS AND PIXIE DUST.
 

Collieryboy

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Great point, rangefinding often screws with guys heads.

Reality is that most rangefinding you do is quick and simple, and doesn't need to be that accurate. Appearance method (@Big_Shep describes above), bracketing (@Blisters), halving (estimating half the distance to target and multiplying it by 2), and reference (length of X of a familiar length, like 3 x football fields) can all be used as an individual. To be honest I find section average (ask the section, sum together, divide by number in section - or, quicker, just take the median / middle value) is remarkably accurate and often best.

Individually, even for more deliberate accurate rangefinding, 9/10 times you use your optics (weapon sights). Almost all modern optics have mildot or reticule measurements, and since the sight is usually at least 4x magnification, you can be accurate out to 4x the range of visual estimation. ACOG is great for this, you rarely need to use anything else. All you need to do is read the manual of your optics to understand which bit to use, or talk to your SAA instructor. Even the SUSAT has the base width of the triangle which you can use to judge the distance of a known object.

For more advanced, deliberate stuff (recce, snipers, gun groups, mortars), there are methods of accurately calculating distance from 500-5000m which theoretically work without aides like optics, but in practice are pretty inaccurate if you try. Everyone uses optics. Basic principle is called subtension, which just means that relative sizes stay the same, and trigonometry means you can use two known sizes (one local to the target, one close to you) to calculate the distance to an object. The known close size is something like (theoretically) the width of your thumb when held out at the full extent of your arm, or (practically) the mildot measurements in your optics sight picture. The known local size is something like a doorway (approx. 1m), car ( 2-door approx 2.5m, 4-door approx 4m), or lampost (approx 5m high in UK residential area), objects which have limited ranges of size. From this you create range tables which compare your local and close sizes, and have a distance for each: e.g. a doorway measuring 1 mildot is 400m away. You create the tables on something like an 800m or sniper's range, putting objects of the correct local size on the point, and then moving out to the different ranges and recording the close sizes at each distance. You can also do it by using Google Earth or a car mileometer if you have a suitable open area. This both gives you an easy reference table rather than making calculations (and mistakes) on the hoof. You also need to know and adjust for the common traps of visual estimation like differences in height, angle and profile.

Subtension is pretty accurate, and having the tables on you makes it reasonably quick, but requires preparation and, of course, experience. Also, I just tried my old visual only (no optics) tables on the area around me and compared to Google Earth, and they are wildly inaccurate past 1000m. Of course, having a 4x magnification optic makes that accurate out to 4km, which is pretty useful for a basic rifle scope. I don't think it's worth posting the method here, because it's a lot of time for not much utility in recruit training. However, this method here is pretty simple, works without optics at small ranges, and uses the same principle:

Put your thumb out at arm's length, close one eye, put it at the base of object (doorway, window, lampost) of known width Y, open eye and close other eye. Your thumb will appear to jump X distance. Calculate distance by:

Distance = X x Y x 10

Beyond 5000m, you're in the realm of forward observers, JTACs and artillery, who will all assure you that they are trained to calculate exact ranges in their heads using just a stick and a piece of string, but funnily enough always seem to use their MAGIC LASER BOX FULL OF SPELLS AND PIXIE DUST.
Really enjoyed reading that. Not exactly related but eratosthenes estimated the circumference of the earth to about 1.6% using nothing but simple algebra/trig and shadows formed by a stick.
 

Tony_m

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You’ll be taught this and will drill this during your tac ex’s but in the spirit of encouraging switched on drills always fucking remember that a good enemy will always be alert at night. Don’t think with your soft civvie head and assume every man Jack is sleeping at night. It is important therefore that you know how to move at night without being detected. You’ll be taught that when tactically manoeuvring during dark hours you should: Move Silently - Stop — Scan — Listen. Get into this habit. Repeat until it sticks Silent - Stop — Scan — Listen. Silent - Stop — Scan — Listen. It’s slow but vital. The second you hear a sound you should: Stop or get down onto your belt buckle if possible and turn your ears in the direction of the sound. They say opening your mouth a little will assist in picking up of a sound.
Remember lads sound travels further at night and even the smallest sound could carry to a potential enemy. If you hear a sound get as low to the ground.
Get used identification of decent cover at night. Next time you are out in the dark look about and see if you can clock the thickest cover and try using shadows to avoid being silhouetted. You’ll probably learn the hard way in Depot but remember lads if you are caught in an unexpected light you have to assume that it is the enemy and that the illuminated area is covered by their fire. How you react to light at night will be determined by the ground and your NCOs will cover this in more detail. Needless to say you’ll want to get the fuck out of dodge and out of that light quickly. This thread is mega and is introducing you lot to a different type of thinking.
 
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