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Old 11-01-2015, 06:23 PM
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Airsoft Grenade Launcher Marksmanship Training Series

Airsoft grenade launchers were used to be considered as shotguns or shoot-and-pray weapons. Now, with the availability of the TAGinn 40mm system (http://airsoftpyrotechnics.com/), TAGinn TAG 15 launcher (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1013266662070314), as well as my Built-in TAGinn Shell Grenade Launcher mod (http://www.instructables.com/id/Airs...-Launcher-Mod/), the Airsoft 40mm grenade system has reached the level of precision and accuracy which we should give its marksmanship training some serious thoughts.

I am putting together a series of Airsoft grenade launcher marksmanship training videos adapted from U.S. Army Field Manual 3-22.31: "40-MM Grenade Launcher, M203". The first video, as shown below, will discuss the fundamentals: steady position, aiming, breathing, and trigger control. The second one will focus on the zeroing procedures. And the third one and beyond will investigate the combat techniques.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGkdW482d1E
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:16 PM
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Someone brought up a good question regarding my Airsoft grenade launcher marksmanship training series: "Since there's zero recoil, are any of these really necessary?"

Although recoil is minuscule in Airsoft weapon, aiming is still paramount as the saying goes: “aim small, miss small”. If we review the purposes of the four marksmanship fundamentals – “steady positon”, “aiming”, “breathing”, and “trigger control” - we’ll see that they are as much about managing the recoil as keeping the sights on target. The purposes of “steady position” include keeping muscle fatigue from affecting the stability of aim and maintaining the alignment of natural point of aim with the target. “Aiming” is self-explanatory. The purpose of “Breathing” is to control the effect of breathing on the weapon’s movement while it is aimed at a target. Finally, one of the purposes of “trigger control” is to prevent sudden trigger pull from disturbing the alignment of the sights with the target.[U.S. Army, 2003]

Another reason to conduct marksmanship training is that the ammo cost is quite high. The large-caliber projectiles for Airsoft grenade launchers cost from US$ 3 to 10 each, which means players are shooting lunch money from each trigger pull. Although some projectiles are reusable, they are still likely to get lost during the chaos of gameplay. Therefore, Airsoft grenade launcher marksmanship training can not only help players perform better at games, but also keep their wallets full.

REF:

U.S. Army. Rifle Marksmanship M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4, and M4 Carbine. (Field Manual 3-22.9). Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army; 2003
U.S. Army. 40-MM Grenade Launcher, M203. (Field Manual 3-22.31). Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army; 2003

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Old 11-05-2015, 10:59 PM
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The significance of the "Aiming" animation in the "Marksmanship I - The Fundamentals" might not be clear.



Many people don't know how to use the M203 leaf sight because it is not modeled correctly in video games. Many video games only have rudimentary M203 sight models. Video gamers usually had to "walk" the rounds to targets, so they assumed that's how grenade launcher is used.




The leaf sight not only provides weapon alignment with the target, but also adjustment for target at different distances. On a real grenade launcher, the red line, "1", and "2" represent 50 meters, 100 meters, and 200 meters. From my experiences with TAGinn shells and projectiles, they can be translated to 50 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet, although I still need to verify this during filming of the second lesson: "The Zeroing Procedures". I theorize that with proper zeroing and good range estimation, an Airsoft grenadier can achieve high first-strike probability, which will make the game play more enjoyable and help save him a lot of money. A TAGinn projectile cost about as much as a good lunch after all.
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Old 11-15-2015, 09:22 AM
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Had a great day shooting Airsoft Grenade Launcher Marksmanship Episode II: "Zeroing Procedure" and Episode III: "Range Estimation" at Pittsburgh Paintball Park. I couldn't contain my joy when my theory was validated! When the Built-in TAGinn Shell Grenade Launcher is zeroed at 50 feet, it should be able to hit an 100-feet target when aligning the "1" marker on the M203 leaf sight.
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Old 11-20-2015, 11:44 AM
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Video: https://youtu.be/WM9fLfQ3Lxc

Zeroing procedures are defined as the steps to align sights to the projected grenade strike points. Although all weapons need zeroing, it is especially important for weapons with slow firing rates and limited ammunition capacity, such as a grenade launcher, in order to achieve high first-strike probability. Therefore, an overview of the zeroing procedures for Airsoft grenade launchers is warranted. I will be using my Built-in TAGinn Shell Grenade Launcher (B.T.S.G.L.) as an example for most of this essay.

There are three major types of grenade launcher sights: leaf sight, leaf sight with adjustable rear aperture, and quadrant sight. Due to the short weapon range in Airsoft, even with TAGinn system, Airsoft grenadiers need to put more emphasis on fast target acquisition than adjustability. I found out through experience that leaf sight is the best choice as one can transition between short and long ranges very quickly (i.e. 50 - 300 feet, very short compared to real steel. Real steel grenade launchers would still be on the first range marking when engaging the "long range" targets of Airsoft). Leaf sights are featured on M203, M320, and AG36. For the leaf sight with adjustable rear aperture on EGLM, you could use the distance markings as rear apertures without the need to fiddling with the adjustable rear aperture. But this trick won't work with M79's sight. Quadrant sights on M203, GP-25 and GP-30 provide more detailed and greater adjustment for ranges, but they are very slow for transitioning between short and long ranges. Due to these reasons, as well as greater availability of M203 leaf sight, I will discuss it solely in this essay.

M203 leaf sight may be mechanically simple compared to a quadrant sight, but it still features fully adjustable windage and elevation. There are notches on the sight that represent 50-meter increment in distances, and they range from 50 meters to 250 meters. In addition, the red mark represents 50 meters, and the “1” and “2” represent 100 and 200 meters respectively. My test showed that they can be roughly converted to 50 to 250 feet with the B.T.S.G.L.

Before describing the zeroing procedures, there are certain characteristics of the B.T.S.G.L. that must be discussed first. The chamber pressure produced by a fresh CO2 cartridge and the regulator is usually higher with the first charge – holding the push-button valve open for three seconds. The projectile velocity, as a result, is usually about 20-40 fps higher than the following shots. Also, holding the push-button valve open longer does not seem to yield any additional benefits, although it seems charging time shorter than three seconds sometimes fails to put enough gas in the chamber. A fresh CO2 cartridge has the most consistent pressure output from 2nd to 7th charges. So, if zeroing is not completed at the 7th shot, it would be best to swap out with another fresh CO2 cartridge. Next, it is possible to use any types of TAGinn projectiles for zeroing, but I feel it is best to use Paladin rounds as they leave distinctive marks on targets that make determining strike points easier.

The first step of zeroing is to find a suitable firing range. I recommend an open field about 50 feet long and 10 feet wide with a sturdy target stand at the end of the range. Although it may be more beneficial to zero at 100 feet as it is the most common Airsoft engagement distance, I feel the ease of zeroing at 50 feet justify some sacrifices in accuracy. A 3 feet by 3 feet or man-size paper target are best for zeroing, as well as practicing range estimation which will be discussed in Marksmanship III: “Range Estimation”. Next, mechanically zero the M203 leaf sight by putting the middle of windage and elevation scale on their respective index lines. Assume a stable position with your non-firing hand supported by a stationary object. Load a Paladin round, and align the front sight and the 50 feet / 50 meter/ red mark on the M203 leaf sight with the target. Fire the round, note the strike point, and adjust windage or elevation as needed. Repeat the loading, firing, and adjustment as needed. Zero is achieved when a strike point is near the center of the target.

I shot a Paladin and Venum round at 100 feet mark to validate zero. The Paladin hit slightly higher on the target, but I consider it a hit as it is within my standard of 3 feet by 3 feet window-size area. The Venum hit slightly lower, but considering it is a heavier round, it is not surprising. I was planning to test the accuracy of B.T.S.G.L. beyond 100 feet, but I ran out of ruler. Without knowledge of precise distance to the target, my shots went either over or short of the target, and were not captured well by the cameras. But I noticed they all flew very close to the target vector.

In summary, with proper knowledge of the zeroing procedures, an Airsoft grenade launcher operating B.T.S.G.L. can achieve high first-strike probability if target range estimation is spot on. This brings up the importance of range estimation, which will be discussed in the next episode: “Range Estimation”.

High resolution versions can be found here:
1. Fundamentals: https://youtu.be/dGkdW482d1E
2. Zeroing Procedures: https://youtu.be/WM9fLfQ3Lxc
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:41 PM
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Video: https://youtu.be/Z57QF4lMuvc

Range estimation is defined as the determination of the approximate distances from the grenadier to the targets. It is paramount for Airsoft grenadiers as the trajectories of TAGinn projectiles resemble a sharp parabolic compared to that of BBs due to lack of Magnus effect and low velocities. Under recommended safety limit of 180 feet per second [REF 1], TAGinn projectiles will start to drop to the ground after travelling 50 feet, making it necessary to launch them at elevated angles in order to reach greater distances. The impact distances correspond to the launch angles, which can be adjusted through the use of grenade launcher sights. If the sights are zeroed correctly, and the distances to the targets are estimated accurately, a grenadier can achieve high first-strike probability by aligning the sights at the corresponding range markers.

There are four types of range estimation techniques: 1) "walking" the rounds, 2) appearance-of-objects, 3) visual aids, and 4) range card. "Walking" the rounds is not really a range estimation technique as the grenadier would not use the range markers on the sights at all. He would simply increase the launch angles gradually until scoring a hit. It may take a lot of rounds to score a hit, resulting in poor performance and waste of money. The technique is commonly used in video games as the grenade launcher sights are rarely modeled correctly in them. Appearance-of-objects technique refers to memorizing sizes and shapes of objects at different ranges and using the information to determine the distances to targets. It is most likely to be used in Airsoft games due to their faster paces and limited weapon ranges. They can be learned through simply "practicing" in games, but it is likely going to cost a lot of money from losing or using up projectiles. In addition, its accuracy can be affected by clarity of the targets, terrains, light and atmosphere. Although appearance-of-objects technique is used more often in games, it takes time to acquire. But it can be learned more efficiently through the use of visual aids, such as the grenade launcher sights or players' index fingers. By using the changes in height or width of the targets relative to the sights or index fingers, one can estimate the corresponding distances. In other words, grenadiers can memorize the relative height or width of common targets on Airsoft battlefields to the sights or their index fingers at 100 feet and 200 feet, and use the information to intrapolate or extrapolate the distances to them. Common targets on Airsoft battlefields include personnel, window, door, and vehicles. It should be kept in mind that the visual aid information will probably be specific to the users themselves due to differences in physiques and weapon setups between players. In order to maximize learning effects, it is recommended that grenadiers begin practicing on engaging targets at known distances of 100 feet and 200 feet, taking the time to employ both appearance-of-objects and visual aid techniques, and then move on to targets at various distances. Also, if the training exercises are done outside of games and dummy rounds are used, they can be recovered and reused, and will save players a lot of money.

The final technique, range card, is likely the most accurate method for range estimation. It requires time to survey key features around a position, and the distances from the position to them. The distances can be measured through map reading as well as pace counts. Once these information are recorded on a range card, grenadiers can estimate target ranges accurately by finding out their relative positions to the recorded key features. However, this technique is probably only applicable to defensive operations at larger MILSIM games which sometimes allow longer time to prepare defenses.

However, even with zeroed sights and good range estimation, it is still possible that the first round would miss. After all, the range is ESTIMATED. But what practicing range estimation techniques as well as other marksmanship skills will do is to minimize the amount of deviation, so that the second round's chance of hitting the target would be almost certain. Furthermore, under combat conditions, it is difficult for a grenadier to track a target, sense the impact, and reload the grenade launcher. Therefore, a grenadier performs best when working with a team as they can provide target tracking and feedback on the effect of fire, so that the grenadier can focus on operating the weapon. In addition, even with the extra space freed up on the load bearing gear from using TAG-15 or B.T.S.G.L. launchers, grenade projectiles are still precious commodities that can be carried in very limited quantities compared to BBs. Lion Claws only allows 4 projectiles on a single mission, and American Milsim only 12. Therefore, they are to be reserved for high-value targets, such as massed troops, strongpoints, or vehicles, instead of individual OPFORs. The target priorities should be decided by grenadier's assigned unit leader with the focus on helping to achieve the objectives. Based on these accounts, the next episode will discuss the techniques of working with a small unit.

REF:
1. https://www.facebook.com/pmogarmory/...045426358890:0

High resolution versions can be found here:
1. Fundamentals: https://youtu.be/dGkdW482d1E
2. Zeroing Procedures: https://youtu.be/WM9fLfQ3Lxc
3. Range Estimation: https://youtu.be/Z57QF4lMuvc
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