When it comes to fire control orders and directing fire onto an enemy position, it is important that when you receive an order you can recognise it quickly and engage it. You will also need to indicate to others in the Section where a target may be so they can engage it. What we will cover in this lesson are the methods of target indication. To get the most benefit form this lesson you should have a working knowledge of judging distances. Each indication that is given will have an associated range in meters.
Arc of Fire
Target indication is easier when the ground in front of our position has been broken down into segments; or arcs. Allocating arcs is common practice when occupying sentry position, an all round defence at a temporary stop, or when you have occupied a harbour area. This is to ensure that the whole area in front of the formation is covered with appropriate firepower. The three main features of an arc of fire are:
- Axis. This is the centre line from which all other directions are given.
- Right of arc. This is the extent of your allocated area of responsibility to the right.
- Left of arc. This is the extent of your allocated area of responsibility to the right.
Audio transcript: “Cpl. Roberts, arcs for 1 Section. If you look to your front, you will see a stone tower. The left edge of this tower is your axis. Seen? Look right, you will see a prominent fence post to the right of the forest. This is your right of arc. Seen? Looking left, clump of trees. This is your left of arc. Seen?”
We can go one step further than just allocating arcs, and this is to nominate reference points. Pre-designated permanent features in the landscape that will allow us to quickly direct view and fire from the section when required. 1 Section will now be allocated reference points. You can use the diagram above to relate these.
Audio transcript: “Listen in for reference points. Centre of axis, there is a stone tower. This shall be known as; tower. Range 200. Seen? Left of arc, two prominent trees. These shall be known as; two trees. Range 400. Seen? Left of arc, right of two trees, gap in hedgerow with gate. This shall be known as; gate. Range 300. Seen? Right of arc, large tree to the front of the forest. This shall be known as; big tree. Range 400. Seen? Any questions?”
Here is a view of the ground in front of us, it has been broken down into arcs, and reference points have been designated.
Methods of Indication
There are four methods of target indication that we will look at. These are:
- Clock ray
- Hand angles
- Binos (binoculars)
Remember, that with each target indication that is given, there will also be a range in meters issued.
Hopefully you will have grasped the concept of arcs of fire, breaking the ground in front of us down into segments. The direct method of target indication does exactly this to identify obvious targets.
Using the same reference of axis to indicate the centre line, both the left and right arcs extend to 90 degrees to the side; think of holding your arms out horizontal, your right arm indicates your right arc, and your left arm indicates your left arc. From these points, the angle between right and the axis is divided into quarters, allowing us to indicate ¼ right, ½ right and ¾ right. For targets that are just off the axis, we can use slightly left or slightly right. This is shown on the image below.
Have a listen to indications being given using the direct method of target indication and note how simple and quick this method is.
Audio transcript: “200, slightly right, tower. Seen? 300, ¼ left, gate. Seen? 400, ½ right, big tree. Seen?”
For less obvious targets, the direct method can be used in conjunction with reference points. This time, we place the direct method origin on the reference point we have previously indicated, and issue our reference from there. An example is given in the image below:
Audio transcript: “300, reference point gate, right of gate, stone tower, right side, roof.” Also a shorter version “300, gate, right, stone tower, right side, roof.”
Applying the direct method of target indication to the ground in front of us enables us to quickly direct our fire or indicate to other members of the section where the target may be. This is very useful for targets that are obvious.
Another method of identifying targets based on reference points, is the clock ray method. Using the 12 points of an analogue clock face, the centre is placed on a reference point and a direction based on the “time.” This method not only allows us to direct to targets that are to the front (10 o’clock), left (9 o’clock) and right (3 o’clock) of a reference point, but also to those below it (between 3 and 9 o’clock). With the full circle broken of 360 degrees broken down into 12, each hour allows us to indicate a target to within 30 degrees.
Audio transcript: “200, tower, 4 o’clock, big tree”
Using a reference point, we can apply our clock face to the point and indicate any direction from there. This is very useful for targets that may not appear obvious at first, such as the gate at 9 o’clock from the tower, or the wall at 3 o’clock.
One of the less used methods in the cadet forces, hand angles allow us to give a horizontal indication from a reference point. This could be useful in an urban environment where there may be long rows of houses or multiple windows. With the clock ray method giving us 30 degree accuracy, the hand angle method can indicate anything from 1.5 degrees to 8 degrees.
Indications can either be in degrees, such as “3 degrees right” or “8 degrees left” common practice also indicates using the finger or knuckle itself – “2 fingers left of gate” or “4 fingers right of tower.”
Combined with an audio example, listen to how quick hand angles can be used to identify targets that may not appear obvious to begin with.
Audio transcript: “400, two trees, 1 finger right, gate, seen? 200, tower, 8 degrees right, wall, seen?”
Military issued binoculars are marked in the right eyepiece with a series of graticules, or lines. Just like hand angles, this angle can be used in conjunction with reference points to indicate the position of a target. The division between these lines is 0.5 degrees. The tall line in the middle is 1 degree in height, allowing vertical indications above a reference point to be given. Each short line is ¼ degree, and the middle lines are ½ degree in height. Taking the tall line as the centre point, it’s easier to ignore the short lines and think of the middle graticules as being 1 degree apart, up to 4 degrees right and 4 degrees left.
As useful as the use of binos may be, we are unlikely to be issued them in the cadet force. They are of more use to assist with fire control when calling in mortar or artillery fire as opposed to rifle fire. This method is not as quick as the other methods.
- The ground in front of us can be broken down into arcs of fire, this allows for quick indication of targets to be given.
- Reference points can be identified in the ground to further enhance any indications given. Remember, they must be clear for all the section to see and must not be moveable.
- There are four methods of target indication:
- Clock ray
- Hand angles
- Each method can be used in conjunction with reference points.
- A range, in meters, must be included with each target indication.
To confirm you understand the methods of target indication, you can take an online assessment. Upon successful completion, you will be asked for a name and email address for a certificate to be emailed to you. To enter the assessment, follow this link.