Airsoft Roles: The Rifleman

Many people have some preconceived ideas about the position of rifleman, and most of them are far from correct. Many believe that the rifleman is just cannon fodder, point man, or the newb who can’t do anything else.

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Fully loaded, a rifleman kneels and covers his comrades as they advance.

In truth, the rifleman is the backbone of any military force. It is the rifleman with his light load, individual weapons system, and manportable gear that assaults the objective, engages the enemy at close range, and holds the ground that let all the rest of the forces advance. It would not be inacurate to state that all other forces in a theatre are there to support the rifleman. Intelligence finds out where the enemy is, artillery bashes his position and destroys his defenses, air support removes his support structure, and machinegunners suppress the enemy so that the rifleman can advance, and take land away from the enemy.

Riflemen are also some of the most versatile soldiers on the ground. Given their lighter combat load, they are frequently called upon to haul extra equipment for overloaded roles such as heavy gunners, medics, communications, demolitions, and engineers. It is also not uncommon to see riflemen doubling as antitank or antiaircraft gunners, rear or flank security, scouts and forward observers, and designated riflemen (distinguished from snipers in that their role does not require them to remain carefully hidden and strike at individual targets. A DRM is concerned with taking longer range shots to accurately remove threats before the rest of the unit enters their engagement range.)

There is little special equipment for a riflemen, but the equipment they do have will see more use than much of the specialized equipment of the rest of the unit.

Weapon: The rifleman’s weapon is usually a battle rifle or assault carbine Such as an M16A2, SCAR-L, Ak-47, H&K G3, or Sig 550. Barrel lengths range from 13″-20″, and magazine capacities tange from 20-75 rounds. This weapon is primarily a semiautomatic weapon, with the capability to fire on full automatic or burst fire modes. Because a rifleman is concerned with taking quick and accurate shots, his weapon will almost always be fired semiautomatic, to control ammunition depletion, muzzle climb, and “spray and pray” behaviors.

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Options available to outfit a basic M4 make a rifleman's main weapon more versatile.

Ammunition:  While the rifleman only has to carry ammunition for his own rifle, he will tend to go through more of it than any other role except the heavy gunner. Because of this, riflemen frequently have several full magazines on them at all times (and in airsoft they also often have a spare battery or two), in order to allow them to place the volume of fire needed to destroy the enemy.

Load Bearing Gear: A rifleman’s load bearing gear is often simple, generally only carrying extra magazines, basic medical supplies, a few grenades, and maybe a set of binoculars. This is not because the rifleman isn’t useful or skilled, but because the rifleman is expected to manuever on the enemy, scout ahead of or off the flanks of the unit, and to move quickly between cover.

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Riflemen moving and observing as a buddy team.

Extra gear: Besides being everyone else’s pack mule, there is a variety of equipment the rifleman can carry that will increase his usefullness to the unit; Binculars or an optical sight could help a scouting rifleman identify the enemy at greater ranges, and even to engage them from farther away than the enemy can hope to return fire on. The addition of a grenade launcher or shotgun to the lightweight rifle can add a bit more punch and options to the rifleman in close combat, and can make him an excellent choice for breacher when the fight turns into close quarters battle. Radios for riflemen are a blessing and a curse. On one hand it is excellent to be able to relay information back to their leaders without having to run back to the main element, and on the other, constant radio chatter ruins the rifleman’s ability to hear the slightest sounds that give away enemy on the move, an ambush about to be sprung, or incoming artillery shells.

Training: The rifleman must be absolutely proficient at the three basic infantry skills: Shoot, Move, and Communicate. When shooting, the rifleman is the epidemy of controlled aimed fire, often letting off a single round or rapid semiautomatic succession of rounds that take an immediate toll on enemy numbers. The rifleman does not waste ammo, nor does he skimp when providing covering or suppression fire for his teammates. When moving, the rifleman is capable of tactical movement appropriate to his environment, lighting conditions, and likelihood of enemy contact. The rifleman can move at anything from a dead sprint on the charge, to a low crawl when pinned down by enemy fire. Because the rifleman is always moving, he avoids hunkering down in one spot and waiting for the enemy to come to him or lose his momentum. The rifleman moves in combat in short bursts moving from cover to cover in 3-5 second rushes, beginning and completing his movement before the enemy can draw a bead on him. Since he is often ahead of the main element, it is also very important for the rifleman to be able to read a map and orient himself to the terrain. To recognize terrain features, landmarks, potential ambusg points, and fields of view.                                                                 Communication covers everything from good radio protocol, ot clear hand signals, to keeping the commander informed of the situation ahead of and around the main effort. Riflemen use radios to call for support, inform the commander of changes in the tactical situation, and to report enemy movements.

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These Ranger riflemen will go anywhere and do anything to destroy the enemy.

Conclusion: The oft underrated rifleman is a position of vast responsibility and potential for the ambitious airsoft player. Exposing him to the possibility of racking up the single highest body count in his team, or to be the most frequently respawned because of failure to pay attention or to perform to the demands of the position.

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Dueling in the desert.

7 thoughts on “Airsoft Roles: The Rifleman

  1. Your response confuses me. Are you asking for more posts on the rifleman role? Or just more posts in general?

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