Firing Party: Stop Taking Aim!

The Nellis AFB Honor Guard Firing Party
The Nellis AFB Honor Guard Firing Party

A Firing Party fires a ceremonial Three-Volley salute using modern or traditional rifles (military), shotguns, or pistols (law enforcement). It is not the 21-Gun Salute, that is fired by guns (canons) and only in the Army and Navy.

Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard fire a 17-gun salute in honor of Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun during the Chief of Navy Reserve, Commander, Navy Reserve Force change of command at the Washington Navy Yard.
Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard fire a 17-gun salute in honor of Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun during the Chief of Navy Reserve, Commander, Navy Reserve Force change of command at the Washington Navy Yard.

The Numbers: Anywhere from three to seven members firing with a commander. The smaller amount of members on the team does not mean that more shots are fired.

www.dps.alaska.gov
www.dps.alaska.gov Alaska State Troopers with the M16

The Rifles: Traditional rifles are the M1 Garand and, used most often, the M14. The reason for these two rifles being used is the charging handle. The M1903 has a bolt and is awkward to operate smoothly when loading each round. Modern rifles are the M16 and variations of it. Pump action shotguns provide a similar action as the M1 and M14 when loading the rounds.

 

A firing party from Co. C, BSTB, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Army photo
A firing party from Co. C, BSTB, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Army photo

The Stance: Needs to be solid. Do not bend at the waist, bend your knees lean backwards, or put your weight on just one foot. You can see these mistakes in this picture.

 

“Fires” is the keyword in the first paragraph. The team fires the Salute, it does not “shoot”. Shooting requires taking aim to hit your target. The Firing party does not have a target, it is firing blanks for the Salute and not going to hit anything.

duboiscountyfreepress.com The Indiana State Police Jasper Post Firing Party.
duboiscountyfreepress.com The Indiana State Police Jasper Post Firing Party.

A firing party takes a side step, not a step forward, as seen in this picture of the Indiana State Police. While this is a non-standard stance here, you can see their use of shotguns for the team.

Army Firing Party
The Old Guard Firing Party at Arlington National Cemetery

I understand the natural position of taking aim when having a rifle or shotgun in your hands and getting ready to fire the weapon. However, training must involve breaking this habit.┬áIt’s a ceremony and must be treated as such. There is a time to take aim and shoot and a time to fire. “Ready, Aim, FIRE!”

www.riley.army.mil A seven-man firing party conducts a rifle volley during a ceremony
www.riley.army.mil A seven-man firing party conducts a rifle volley during a ceremony

In the picture above, you can see how some of these Soldiers are dropping their head to take aim while using a more modern rifle to fire the volleys.

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