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What FM's cover Machine Gun Employment

FM 3-22.68 Crew Served Machine Guns

FM 3-21.8 (7-8) Infantry Platoon and Squad


What are the Characteristics of Fire

Maximum Ordinate
Cone of Fire
Beaten Zone
Danger Space


What is Trajectory

The path of the round in flight to the target. (Recoil, stability, and control of the weapon all effect the trajectory of the round.)


What is Maximum Ordinate

The highest point of the trajectory between the muzzle of the weapon and the base of the target. Occurs about 2/3 of the distance between the weapon and the target. The Maximum Ordinate increases as the range Increases.


Explain the Cone of Fire

Each round fired in a burst from the same
weapon has a slightly different trajectory.
The pattern these rounds create on the way to the target is the Cone of Fire.


How is the Cone of Fire created

Vibrations of the gun
Variations in ammunition
Atmospheric conditions


What is the Beaten Zone

The elliptical pattern formed on the ground on the target by the striking rounds and the primary way for adjusting fire.

(The length of the beaten zone changes as the range to the target increases. Sloping terrain and short range will lengthen the Beaten Zone.)


What is Danger SPace

The space between the Machine Gun and the target where the trajectory rises less than 1.8 meters (average height of a man) from the ground.


Classes of Fire

Respect to the Ground

Respect to the Target

Respect to the Weapon


What are the two fires in Respect to the Ground

Grazing Fire

Plunging Fire


What is Grazing Fire

Occurs when the center of the cone of fire rises less than 1 meter above the ground.


What is Plunging Fire

Occurs when the Danger Space is within the Beaten Zone, at longer ranges when firing from high ground onto low ground, and when firing into abruptly rising ground.


Explain Respect to the Target

The angle or orientation at which the gun is to the target.






Explain Frontal Fire

Occurs when the long axis of the Beaten Zone is at a right angle to the front of the target or in line with the target.


Explain Flanking Fire

Occurs when the gunner is to the flank of the target.


Explain Oblique Fire

Occurs when the long axis of the Beaten Zone is at any angle other than a right angle to the front of the target.


Explain Enfilade Fire

Occurs when the long axis of the Beaten Zone coincides with the long axis of the target.

(Either frontal or flanking and is the most desired type of fire because it makes the most of the Beaten Zone.)


What are the subcategories to Respect to the Weapon




Traversing and Searching

Swinging Traverse



Fixed Fire

Delivered against a point target when depth and width of the Beaten Zone covers the target.

(Only one aiming point is needed to provide target coverage.)


Traversing Fire

Fire distributed IN WIDTH with successive changes in direction.

(The gunner selects several aiming points throughout the width of the target.
Aiming points are close enough to provide coverage without wasting ammo.)


Searching Fire

Fire distributed IN DEPTH by changes in elevation.

(Gunner selects several aiming points.
Changes made to each aiming point depend on the range and slope of the ground.)


Traversing and Searching Fire

Fire distributed IN WIDTH AND DEPTH by changes in elevation and direction.


Swinging Traverse

Wider distance covered with distribution of fire laterally.
No change to the elevation/range.
Used against a target with great width.


Free Gun

Fire distributed against a target that requires rapid, major changes in direction and elevation that can not be achieved while using the T & E.


Application of Fire

This refers to methods used to cover a target area.

(Gunners are exposed to 2 types of targets
in the squad or platoon sector; enemy soldiers and supporting automatic weapons.

These enemy soldiers and supporting automatic weapons are the gunner’s priority targets and should be engaged ASAP.)


Types of Target Engagements

Point Target
Area Target
Linear Target
Deep Target


Engagement for Point Targets

For point targets the gunner uses Fixed Fire.

(If the target moves after the initial burst the gunner follows the movement engaging the target.)


Engagement for Area Targets

For an area target the gunner fires at the center mass of the target and then TRAVERSES AND SEARCHES to either flank and then reverses to the other flank.


Engagement for Linear Targets

The initial point of aim is the midpoint and then the gunner manipulates his fire to cover the rest of the target.

(The leader or AG may use reference points to make adjustments.

The reference point should lie on line with the target for the most accurate results.)


Engagement for Deep Targets

The gunner uses SEARCHING FIRE and initially aims at midpoint using single deep targets unless there is another more critical target.

(Then SEARCHES down one aiming point in front of the near end and back up to one aiming point beyond the far end.

The leader may use reference points if the gunner can not observe a deep target.)