Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Proficiency Test for a Well-Regulated Militia

The 2d Amendment states that a "well regulated militia" is necessary to the security of a free state. What did the framers mean by that phrase? They meant that the militia, i.e. the vast majority of the people themselves, have access to appropriate weapons and trained to their use so that they could quickly and effectively take up arms either on their own initiative or when embodied by order of the government.

In order to test how well the militia are in fact regulated, I'd like to see a test administered to them. It should verify a couple of important things: citizenship, good conduct, and basic knowledge of and proficiency with the main arm and sidearm currently in service (today, the M16 rifle or M4 carbine and M9 pistol). It ought to take about an hour and consume no more 50 rounds. I'd like to see it administered with stock weapons and ammunition by the National Guard, for the simple fact that they own a large supply of said weapons, and one cannot then say that the militia aren't "well regulated" after they've proven their abilities with those weapons! Plus, by establishing an equipment baseline it eliminates any advantage or disadvantage that would come with using one's personal weapons and ammo.

To prove citizenship and good conduct, the prospective shooter must report for his test with a driver's license and a voter registration card, and a certificate of good conduct from his local lawmen. He will also need ear and eye protection, and some means of carrying the proper magazines on his person; the set-up will be left to him.

He then moves on to the firing point where he is presented with a disassembled rifle or carbine. Within a prescribed time limit he assembles it and does a function check, and verifies that the sights are set to mechanical zero. He is issued with 50 rounds, which he loads into three magazines-- 10, 20, 20.

He then moves up to the firing line and under command, proceeds to BZO with a magazine of 10 rounds, for 200 meters. Range personnel will assist only by spotting the groups for him. If he can BZO in fewer than 10 rounds, he keeps those rounds and loads them into the remaining two magazines.

He then engages targets at 100, 75, 50 and 25 meters from different positions, under command, and within a time limit. The target remains stationary, the shooter moves forward to the next line or to the target when told to. There is no spotting from the range personnel, and the targets are scored only once, at the end of firing. The shooter will change magazines when required, without command from the range personnel, and will clear malfunctions as needed. Only in the event of bad ammo or a malfunction beyond his control will he notify range personnel, and if warranted will receive an alibi. (Any saved rounds from the BZO can be applied to this stage to help him cover pulled shots or misses.)

He then moves off the line, turns in his magazines, and under supervision resets the sights to mechanical zero, disassembles the weapon, and does a quick cleaning of the major parts. He then repeats the process with the pistol, of course without the BZO stage.

This is a pass/fail event. The shooter passes all stages in order to pass the event. Perhaps the only grade beyond "pass" will be an honorable mention for those who shoot exceptionally well. I think this is a good test, and a workable one, to establish that an engaged citizen of good character can take a service weapon, assemble it, zero it, and employ it within some basic parameters, then disassemble it and clean it.

What I need however, are the details on the qualification stages. What target do we use? How many rounds per string at each distance? What positions do we require? What's the time limit? What percentage of hits constitutes a passing score? What constitutes a hit-- anything inside the "vital area" of the target? What should the pistol stage consist of? Again, I want the target to stay put and the shooters to move toward it, to save time on scoring. The whole thing has to be SIMPLE and easily understood. I have my opinions, but I'd like to hear yours.

Send me your ideas!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, I'm intrigued by this, but first of all I'd like a better definition of the militia. I get the impression you're talking about the general citizenry with no training. I always thought of a militia as having at least minimal training. I see no mention of such in your concept.

Is this just a test for the average Joe off the streets. Or is this for ex-military? Assemble an M-16, adjust its sights, and take on targets at varying distances for my street Joe? Not likely, so it must be for ex-military to have some fun now and then. I'm all for that.

If what you're really endorsing is making optional voluntary military weapons and even tactics training for all responsible citizens to provide a more viable US homeland militia - well I'm all for that as well. Optional light, no commitment, military training for responsible Americans - thats quite an idea. The chance to periodically fire automatic weapons with no military commitment (at my past military age) - count me in. Sounds like "Guard Lite".

Hey, I'd even support the concept of a mandatory week or two of military and weapons training for all citizens (men and women) at the age of 18, with a weekend refresher course every 5 years or so - but that "ain't gonna happen".

Anyhow, I've obviously not quite understood your purpose in this.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Freeman said...

Not a bad concept, but I've got to agree with the anonymous commentor that the general public average joe isn't ready for it. You would require a driver's license as part of your evidence of "citzenship and good conduct", but drive our public streets and tell me what percentage of the public is competent to drive a motor vehicle and exhibit "good conduct" while doing so. Where I live, most of the cops can't even be bothered to signal a lane change or look to see if the lane is occupied, much less the general public, most of whom are perpetually distracted by their cell phones and just drive willy-nilly all over the road with no regard for lanes or rules-of-the-road. Go to your nearest 4-way stop and check the number of people who can't figure out whose turn it is. And you want to put weapons in the hands of these people and test their proficiency at assembling, firing, disassembling and cleaning them? Good luck with that, brother.

9:45 PM  
Blogger scooby said...

Nitpicking: Why would you have 10 rounds for zeroing if you do three round shot groups? At any rate, 9 is a bit exacting given that you can't (or at least shouldn't) adjust until after the first 2 groups, so then you only get one adjustment before you have to be on. Most military ranges I've done give you 18 to start with. Yes, an expert shooter will zero in 2 groups, but you can be a pretty good shot and still have a hard time zeroing.

Also, you'd really want some dry fire practice before going to the range, such as in FM 3-22.9.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous bullnav said...


First the whole training issue comes to mind. Most of the folks in my neighborhood or with whom I work do not own firearms, nor do they know how to use one.
Secondly, background checks are not quick or cheap, although they have gotten a lot better since the national fingerprint check system went into place (I don't know the acronym, but it is pretty slick: you scan in a print, it gets analyzed, and if your prints are in the system you will get a result in 10-15 minutes).
Thirdly, why not have this conducted with firearms the individual owns? This would be the most likely situation that would occur.
Fourth, every time I have qualified, I was given 5 rounds to BZO the weapon. The last time was with a M16 (not A1/A2/A4 but an original M16). I BZO'd it with 3 rounds and shot expert (not to brag, but those are the facts).

Anyway, just my $.02 BR. I will have to think about this some more.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Poshboy said...

The US military back in the 1920s had a Civilian Military Training Program that allowed ordinary people to sign up for two weeks of drill and training at various Army posts around the country. It lasted until the end of the 1930s.

One of the problems is that the avg Joe isn't going to know anything about marksmanship training or proper sighting in of most firearms, let alone the M-16 family. You will have to have a lot of remedial firearms training involved before you can progress to the stages you describe.

I am all for some kind of civilian training in firearms proficiency, btw. Not sure I would make it mandatory, though, especially since it involves a right. There is no similar mandated training for writing or voting.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a couple of ways I think of reading the 2nd Amendment:
1. We get guns because of the existence of the "well regulated militia", i.e. organized military and law enforcement.
2. The first phrase is actually irrelevant, kind of like saying, "because it's raining, I'm going to take an umbrella with me". The part about the militia could be dropped without affecting the Amendment, the key being, "the right of the people...shall not be infringed." Militias, in this case, don't matter.
Thus, no qualification is necessary.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're already in the militia. The fact that the US went away from the old concept of a small standing Army supported by a large number of volunteer militia in times of need doesn't change that.
The only requirements in history for participating in the common defense would be that the person in question was willing.

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defend my country with an M-16A2? Defend against what? Poodles?
When the drum sounds, I'll show up carrying my U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1. I'll fight with a man's weapon, thank you.

5:00 AM  
Anonymous bullnav said...

Pop-ups. I would have folks qualify on the pop-up range. Not to mention, you need to make the range and ammo available on a regular basis for refresher training.

A Garand? Yes, it is a "man's weapon" but it is not what we have the most of in the inventory.

I think the Government should contract with Ruger to make a .308 version of the Mini-14 and then issue that.

5:49 AM  

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