How to be a good Rifleman? Well, that is a simple question but not easy to answer. Why? because I found out that it’s one of the most versatile roles on the Airsoft field. Most Airsofters don’t want to be a Rifleman because it’s like being a common soldier on the field with a high change of getting shot; you’re going to be cannon fodder…!
I think that is a great misconception. The Rifleman is the most posted soldier in a formation, moving in front of the team, watching for ambushes and signs of the enemy movements and locations. It’s not a very specialized position but instead you can multirole and train in a variety of disciplines….
So, let’s take a look at the military Rifleman position and then the Airsoft Rifleman positions. They have lot in common and it’s very interesting to see how the Rifleman position has evolved.
1. The Rifleman position from a military perspective
It’s interesting that the Rifleman position was born out of the Riflegun. What was so special about that Riflegun in the early days?
1.1 The Rifleman in military organiziation
The position of a Rifleman originated in the 18th century , named after the introduction of the Rifled Musket weapon. This weapon was recognized by his Caplock Firing Mechanism and their rifled barrels, which means that the barrel had grooves cut into the interior surface. That rifled barrel ensures a long accuracy because the way that a spinning bullet goes is more flat, than fired without a rifled barrel.
How does this Caplock Firing Mechanism works? Check out the video below!
Those grooves causes the bullet to spin as it left the barrel. These days the most Airsoft guns have something similar and more effective than grooves in the interior surface. It’s the Hop-Up system which causes the BB to spin.
The Rifleman was a typically infantry soldier operating in a regiment. A regiment is a unit of army commended by a Lieutenant Colonel. That unit is mostly divided in squadrons or batteries of Riflemen by which they are the mainstay of all standard infantry.* What does that actually mean?
Well, an infantry engages in military combat on foot, on top of her craft field, often forward of the team. So they rely mostly on moving by feet but sometimes they used vehicles but most of the time they are distinguished from cavalry, artillery and tank forces.
Military combat is a general description of different military fighting systems. They practice it in hand to hand combat training using Martial Art and Combat Sports techniques. To get an idea check out the video below!
Although the Rifleman Role was originated in the 16th century, on the other hand the Term Rifleman originated in the 18th century with the introducing of a Rifled Musket; the Assault Rifle in the early stages.
Throughout history, the Rifleman position is the least coveted position in military organizations. But everyone in the infantry starts as a Rifleman. That is because this is one of THE basic roles to get an understanding of your weapon, military tactics and strategies.
1.2 The Rifleman in modern days
The modern Rifleman is armed with a Assault Rifle. This is a selective-fire rifle meaning that this gun has the capability of a weapon to be adjusted to fire in semi-auto, burst mode and/or fully automatic firing mode. These firing modes ar chosen by a selector on the gun.
The Rifleman soldier is the basic soldier from which all other soldierly functions stem. The most important part of an infantry unit is actually based on Riflemen. Besides that they employ a variety of other specialized soldiers in conjunction with the Rifleman to finally form a unit.
Now we now a little bit about how the Rifleman was originated. For me it was clarifying what kind of skills and disciplines a Rifleman need in order to succeed.
Most beginner Airsofters don’t want to be a Rifleman because they underestimate the role and think they are better than that. Well, it should be the role that is most sought after! And that is because the Rifleman has the most flexibility to do almost every mission possible!
2. The Airsoft Rifleman Position
Now with some historical awareness in mind we should take a look at the Airsoft Rifleman position. I hope you understand now that the Rifleman position is very important, maybe the most important position. I always imagined that the Rifleman is a standard soldier but now I know more than that. I hope you do too.
2.1 The Role on the field
So to be clear, the Rifleman is NOT a Commander or Sniper but it is oftentimes holding the lives of the whole squad by moving slowly forward sweeping the way for the rest of the team, watching for ambushes and also seeking for signs of enemy movements. That actually makes the Rifleman position one of the most important positions on the field!
The Rifleman can be designated to other duties. Maybe now it starts being exited for you…. Yes, it will! Those duties are that of the Designated Marksman and Scout/Recon. These duties are somewhat similar to the Rifleman position but are more focused on one sort of skill set or another.
The Designated Marksman
The most important difference between the standard Rifleman and the Designated Marksman is that they use a different gun; A mix of a AEG and Bolt Action with a greater range and accuracy. On that gun there is often a Optical Sight System attached. That way the Designated Marksman is able to take shots at a longer range. So, they do take distance kill shots but are not Snipers. The Designated Marksman is still just a member of their squad/fire team.
The Scout or Recon
Another duty that a Rifleman can be designated to is a Scout/Recon. Actually most Rifleman act as a Scout but the main purpose is to look for the enemy’s position and report that information back to the team. That means engaging the enemy at close-quarters and inform the rest of the team about the situation.
The Scout/Recon move faster and is more versatile. These are the first to clear a building and are not be afraid of getting shot.
The weapon that a scout mostly use is a shotgun or a M4/M16. Other gear that a Scout could have is a grenade or a grenade launcher. Don’t take a Sniper Rifle. Chances are that you don’t hit anything while your are a beginner. Instead get a M4 with a longer barrel. A red dot scope would also be helpful.
2.2 Skills and disciplines of a Rifleman
I think you’re now a bit convinced that the Rifleman is an important position. And if you’re not convinced yet, ask a Squad Leader or a Fire Team Leader what they think of that position. You’d be surprised because a good leader relies heavily on their Riflemen, because the Riflemen are the eyes and ears of the unit. Often forward of the team they track the environment to see if there are any ambushes or to locate the opponent.
Several other disciplines are:
- to be good at field craft
- keeping a low profile
- remain camouflaged
- move long distances en
- move rapidly with flanking movements to get your team safely on destination
- blend in terrain and utilize terrain features
- providing cover fire
The most important skills are:
- learn to navigate
- field craft
- direct and supporting fire
- maneuvering and fire at the same time
- communication skills – formation and hand signals
3. Airsoft Rifleman Equipment
Now we talked a lot about the skills and disciplines that are needed to succeed as a Rifleman. Another thing that makes your role as a Rifleman easier is your (tactical) gear.
Besides the Rifle gun, the most important piece of equipment is your face protection. That includes a goggle and a face mask. Many fields even require special full seal ans ANSI rated goggles. Second important piece of equipment is the face mask. This is really important to protect you face from a 300+ Feet Per Second BB. Many Airsofters have regret not to carry face mask…. They miss one teeth now… I wrote more about face protection in another article. Follow this link to that article.
3.2 Airsoft Rifleman gun
As you may read before in this article, the Rifleman position has it’s namesake of the Rifleman gun. This gun was meant to have a long accuracy and be able to produce a burst of fire. That is because the Riflemen are the backbone of the whole team. They need to provide the team with plenty of fire power and support.
In the military the Rifleman is usually armed with a Select-Fire Assault Rifle. That means the Rifle can be adjust to fire in semi-auto, burst mode or fully automatic. These modes are chosen by means of a selector. A burst fire mechanism limit the maximum number of shots fired automatically. Most common is 2 or 3 rounds per trigger pull. Below a great video in which is explained how a burst round works!
The selective-fire modus gives you the opportunity to conserve ammunition while you can be more effective during short fire fights.
In Airosft I know that the ICS MX5 PRO Airsoft gun has a burst mode. If you look at this gun it has 3 fire modes: full auto, 3 rounds burst, semi and safe. And after shooting it releases the spring tension automatically. Also the H&K (MP5A4) and Cyma (M3) has made a gun with 3 rounds burst option.
The Airsoft gun of a Rifleman is mostly a basic Assault Rifle like an M16, or an AK-47. It could also any other weapon like an M4, MP5 or G36. Most of these Airsoft weapons are medium to long distance range weapons with great accuracy. They also should be able to fire on semi-auto and auto. The more expensive weapons allow you to fire in burst mode.
As long as a weapon is accurate it will mostly fits the Rifleman’s needs.
Does Riflemen need a sidearm? Some say NO absolutely not, others say YES. It depends on several factors but if you have a solid and reliable Airsoft gun than you don’t need a sidearm. Well, of course you want to be covered from any disfunction of your main Airsoft gun but you can always borrow one if your’s will fail. In reality you almost never need a secondary weapon or backup.
Each country has their favorite military Rifle to use: in the US the standard Rifle weapon – the M16 – in England the L85 Bullpup and in Germany the G36K. The AK-47 is in most other countries popular.
Know that a CQB field allows around 350 Feet or lower while field play normally accept around 400 Feet per Second. If you (want to) play CQB then a sidearm could be helpful.
3.3 Other Rifleman Gear
The Rifleman carries mostly medium armor. It consists of a light load-out of weapons and gear to be able to respond quick and assault through most attacks with ease. What should a light load-out look like?
A Chest (rig), a Battle Belt, Helmet and Gloves are nice to have. Actually the loadout can be as simple as detailed as necessary and should be based upon you missions needs.
A chest can be used for protection as well as to carry al lot of ammunition. Especially when you have to provide plenty of fire power and support.
A battle belt can be used for the same purposes but many times you have not that many different pouches and options. You also have many different options to attach an other kind of things, compared to a belt.
You can’t miss gloves in CQB situations because your knuckles get lick up . Not only in CQB but also on the field is it extremely helpful.
A helmet provide extra cover and protect you from BB’s coming down on your head. Next camouflage.
You can go as far as you want to go with camouflage. You can aim for a Battle Dress Uniform or you can simply wear a vest with some kind of sweater underneath and some kind of combat pants with knee pads. I’m sure as time progress you want camouflage and even a BDU / Lancer Tactical Frog.
Hydration is very important in every Airsoft Role. The Rifleman should be able to cover long distances so some sort of hydration is advisable. That could be a water bottle or a hydration pack on your back.
4. Summary of Airsoft Classes
Till sofar I just wrote about the standard Rifleman. But that is not the only thing you can look up to. There are different sub-classes of a Rifleman. So after a while you can be specialized in a certain direction of the Rifleman position.
4.1 Standard Rifleman
- Airsoft Gun: Mostly an A.E.G. like a Assault Rifle or SMG (sub machine gun) like the H&K MP7
- Optional weapon (attachments): Red dot sight, grenade launcher, grenades, sidearm pistol
- Gear: Tactical belt with ammo pouches to hold several high (2x) and midcap (3x) magazines, you may choose for a vest, face protection : a goggle (sealed + ANSI), face mask and helmet
- Airsoft Gun: same as the Standard Rifleman
- Optional weapon: under barrel grenade launcher
- Gear: same as the standard Rifleman but a vest would be nice to hold extra equipment
4.3 Advanced Rifleman
- Airsoft Gun: Long Range Rifle with scope and a tight barrel (not equal as a Sniper)
- Optional weapon: attachments like a scope, grenade launcher, and several upgrades like the hop-up and barrel
- Gear: same as the standard Rifleman but a vest +belt would be nice to hold extra equipment
4.4 Ranged Rifleman
- Airsoft Gun: Use a gun that is range-accurate (medium range) with optics like a Red Dot Scope and one with a tighter barrel that lifts the FPS threshold.
- Optional Weapon: At least this Airshot gun should have auto and semi-auto. Some guns have also burst mode so that would be great.
- Gear: same as the standard Rifleman but a vest +belt would be nice to hold extra equipment
So this was al the information I got for you. So there is not a quick answer on how to be an good Rifleman. You can prepare yourself to buy a good, solid and reliable weapon and some good gear. Than go out to the Airsoft field and gain some experience! The different skills you need to be a good Rifleman can be learned by being a standard Rifleman. So start as a Rifleman and you built a strong solid base for your next role on the Airsoft field! Maybe you want to be a ……. Sniper…?
I hoop it’s been valuable…