Big 4, Little 4 (B4L4)

It’s time we discuss training philosophy, and triage of training tasks. This post is intended for civil defense organizations and NCOs of rudderless military units, given the current unstable times (more to come).

The concept of the “Big 4” came from Ranger Regiment in the 1990s. It was a way of focusing training and ensuring that it was balanced. The original Big 4 were Physical Training (PT), Marksmanship, Medical, and Battle Drills. In 2005 Vehicles was added to make the Big 5. These basic competencies are the foundation of complex and difficult operations.

We’re going to do Big 4 Little 4. The Big 4 are the originals: PT, Marksmanship, Medical, and Small Unit Tactics (SUT). I changed it to SUT because that term is more representative of what is actually taught. Battle drills are just a few set drills, while SUT encompasses the battle drills as well as other common tactical tasks like patrol bases and ambushes. The Little 4 are Vehicles, Communications, Fieldcraft, and Leadership.

In the Little 4, Vehicles and Communications are self-explanatory; both are technical fields that require training and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Fieldcraft is on the list because people just don’t spend the time in the woods and outdoors that they used to. Leadership is something that is trained and practiced all the time. The reason it is included is that specific training outside of normal duties and performance should occur on this topic. That is, leadership development should be deliberate.

Training Philosophy

Principles:

  • Ideally, each event should translate to as little as a single day or less of instruction (this may not result in immediate mastery).
  • Training should follow the crawl-walk-run philosophy, where the training starts simple and gets more complicated and difficult.
  • Training should follow a “spiral” pattern, where we circle back around to the same topic and continue to build mastery through the course of a training cycle.
  • Training events focusing on one topic should incorporate crossover between other topics as much as the infrastructure and skill of participants allows.
  • Force-on-Force training should occur to sharpen skills and test out SOPs.
  • Instructors should teach events and provide references in such a way that the person being trained can later practice their skill alone. When possible the event should also be “train-the-trainer,” enabling the student to go on and teach others the skill.

B4L4 Training Events

What follows is a list of key tasks and training events for each of the B4L4:

  1. PT (Physical Training)
    • Calisthenics, circuit training, speed and agility
    • Strength training
    • Ruck marching
    • Hand to hand fighting: Boxing, Jiu Jitsu
  2. Marksmanship
    1. Pistol Basics: safety, functioning, fundamentals, 5-step draw, first 100 rounds
    2. Pistol Intermediate: move and shoot, magazine changes, team shooting, barricades
    3. Basic Rifle Marksmanship
    4. Carbine basic: reflexive fire, magazine changes
    5. Carbine intermediate: move and shoot, barricades, transition to pistol, team shooting
    6. Long Rifle: accuracy traits of the weapon, ballistics, bullet drop compensating, positions
  3. Small Unit Tactics
    • Battle Drills: react to contact, break contact, attack, enter and clear
    • Formations and order of Movement
    • Ambush and Raid
    • Recon
    • Urban
  4. Medical
    • MARCH (Massive bleeding, Airway, Respiratory, Circulation, sHock)
    • Casualty Collection Point (CCP), triage, evacuation
  5. Vehicles
    • Off road driving techniques
    • “Sport” and urban driving techniques
    • Battle drills: contact, disabled vehicle, infil/exfil procedures
    • Recovery
    • Loadout and setup
  6. Communication
    • Frequency theories
    • OPSCHEDs, brevity codes
    • Equipment setup and operating
  7. Fieldcraft
    • Shelter and survival
    • Camouflage and stalking
    • Navigation
    • STANO (Scopes, Target Acquisition, and Night Observation) ie optics
  8. Leadership
    • Planning and briefing
    • Military theory and history
    • Reaction
    • War games
    • Intelligence

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Examples: Crawl

  1. Basic Pistol – Instructor teaches safety, operation, and drawing of pistol. Students practice dry, then shoot 100 rounds in groups of 10, practicing parts of their draw, fundamentals of marksmanship, and other basic shooting skills. Resources: Simple range, pistols, and ammunition. 4 hours or less needed. (2. Marksmanship)
  2. Jiu Jitsu – Instructor warms up students, teaches a technique, then leads sparring practice. Resources: mats, old clothes, 2 hours or less. (1. PT)

Examples: Walk

  1. Buddy Break Contact – Pair of students practice bounding backward to break contact while shooting at targets. Assessed on time to break contact and hits achieved. Resources: Rural range, firearms. (2. Marksmanship, 3. SUT)
  2. Stalk and Shoot – Student stalks up to a predetermined firing area, and fires a precision round from concealment. Assessed on accuracy and camouflage. (2. Marksmanship, 7. Fieldcraft)
  3. Skill Builder Navigation Course – Students navigate from point to point, performing technical tasks at each point such as communication, optic use, physical challenge, weapon use. Resource intensive, but can train large numbers quickly.

Examples: Run

A true “run” event is a full mission profile, or exercises which encompass all phases of an operation. Ideally they will include Opposing Forces (OPFOR). This can be a legitimate training event for both groups. These events should also include leadership decisions that materially affect the training event. These events should build upon previous training.

  1. Sniper attack on High Value Target (HVT) – Target is a steel target set up on a realistic objective. Sniper team plans their infiltration into the area, sets up a final firing position and shoots, and then successfully exfiltrates. (1. PT, 2. Marksmanship, 6. Communication, 7. Fieldcraft)
  2. Assault on Outpost – Assault team infiltrates by truck and then foot, conducts recon on objective to complete their plan, then assaults objective. This can be more complex by adding follow on objectives based on intelligence collected during the assault, and leadership decisions based on the initial recon, and intelligence. (5. Vehicles, 7. Fieldcraft, 3. SUT, 8. Leadership)

Yearly Training Schedules

Training schedules should, above all, be reasonable to implement and safe. They should build on previous blocks of instruction. The instructors should plan out the year based on the goal of running a culmination exercise if possible. It’s ok to dial the exercise back or up as the year progresses and the reality of the men is apparent.

Windage Field Constants for Common Rifle Calibers

For the benefit of the rifle shooting community, I have created this table of common calibers’ wind constants. If you’d like to see another bullet on this table, just post the request in the comment section, and I will update the table (weight, G7 BC, and MV would be helpful). I have gotten it kicked off with 6 common calibers. I made this table using my highly accurate ballistics calculator, Sendit Ballistics. The table is right below. Further explanation is below the table.

You better have some way of getting on paper in this atmospheric shit-storm.

Corrections Table

CaliberRanges Valid To (m)Wind Constant (mil, meter, mph)Wind Constant (moa, yard, mph)
5.56mm, M193, 55gr FMJ, 600206.4
5.56mm, M262, 77 gr BTHP, 2740fps MV800278.6
5.56mm, M855, 62grn FMJ600237.3
6.5mm (CM), 140grn ELD-M10004514.3
7.62mm (300WM), Mk248Mod0, 190gr BTHP11004414
7.62mm, M118LR, 175gr BTHP, 2600fps MV8004012.7
.22 LR, 40gr CCI Mini-mag, rifle40082.5

Having a windage field constant in your back pocket is a great thing for serious shooters. A field constant means a single number which helps you come up with corrections based on a full value wind, and the given range.

The concept of a wind constant works on the following equation:

Meter Line * Windspeed / Constant = Correction

EXAMPLE: 5.56 62grn at 400 meters (meter line 4),
in a 6mph wind. Want MOA correction.

1. Constant = 7
2. Correction = 4 * 6 / 7 = 24/7 = 3.5MOA
  • Meter Line is in hundreds, i.e. the Meter Line for 500m is “5”
  • Windspeed is full value, interpolate for half values
  • Constant is in such a unit that it gives you the desired correction

I made the table with two types of constants. The first row is for shooters who desire a mil correction, with meter distances, and mile per hour winds. The second column shows MOA corrections, for shooters shooting in yards, and using mile per hour winds.

You will notice that some of these constants are non-rounded numbers. I decided to err on the side of giving the rifleman the most information. If you don’t like “27,” you can make the call to round it to “25.”

Methodology

The wind constant calculations are pretty much pure analytical science. I used the ballistics engine in Sendit Ballistics to produce the corrections for the given bullet and wind parameters. From there, it is simple algebra to calculate the wind constant (see the simple equation at the top of the page, we need to know 3 numbers to find the 4th). I modeled the wind constant at every hundred meters, and at 5, 10, and 20mph for each cartridge.

Past those calculations, there is some art involved. I first average all the wind constants to get a baseline number. This number is typically too low. The wind constants change drastically from 100m to 1000m. The constants are higher at shorter ranges, meaning that ultimately they produce smaller corrections for the riflemen in the field. Of course, the small wind constants at long range produce corrections which are too big at medium ranges. The key is to pick a reasonable range for the given cartridge, and then select a wind constant that will give adequate coverage for both medium and long ranges for that cartridge. It’s not too much of a problem if the shooter overcorrects by a large amount at shorter ranges; it amounts to centimeters.

Sendit Ballistics

Check out Sendit Ballistics for iOS if you are interested in an accurate, simple bullet trajectory calculator. I keep an updated page on the app here. The app is so accurate because it models the most important 3 degrees of freedom with painstaking detail. The app is designed for the field user, with a simple interface, range card mode, low light mode, and rapid corrections with minimal information. It is free to 400 meters, and only $4.99 to infinity.