Airsoft – The Roles: Rifleman
You are sitting there with your gear all set out. Setting up for the first mil-sim operation you’re planning on attending. You just received your registration packet in the mail it has all the details and you’re all kinds of excited. You get to the page that shows your assignment; Rifleman. Your excitement deadens. Rifleman! That’s boring! Man…you’re going to be cannon fodder! You start thinking of all the other positions. A Sniper! Or Team Leader! Or even Assault or Heavy Weapons. Anything but rifleman. Why you? Now you don’t even want to go.
What Exactly is an Airsoft Rifleman?
Throughout history, in every military organization, there is always one place no one wants to be, Point. Traditionally, the point position is always a rifleman. And every one starts in the infantry just as that, a rifleman.
The rifleman position in a fire team is always the least coveted position. In actuality, it should be the most sought after. The rifleman has the most flexibility to do almost every mission possible. Let’s look at the gear utilized and what makes up the rifleman position. The rifleman position within a fire team consists of its namesake, a rifle. Depending on the country you are representing in your mil-sim, image depends on the weapon you will utilize. In the U.S. military , the standard rifleman weapon is the M16, England, the L85 Bullpup, and Germany, the G36K. For most all others the ever-present AK-47 persists.
The rifleman takes orders directly from a fire team leader, or their squad leader. Usually placed to the front in most formations, the rifleman is usually always the first to make contact and engage enemy positions. Due to the rifleman’s light load-out of weapons and gear, they can respond quicker and assault through most attacks with ease.
Myths and General Misconceptions of the Rifleman Position
1. No, a Rifleman is not Rambo – The rifleman is oftentimes holding the lives of his or her whole squad or fire team in their hands.
2. No, riflemen are not snipers
3. No, riflemen do not carry heavy weapons
4. No, riflemen do not usually carry a side arm. The primary weapon of the rifleman is their rifle. In most cases they will never need a secondary weapon or a backup. That is something that has been created for the “Special Forces” look in the airsoft community. The rifle is the only weapon they need.
These are some general thoughts about being a rifleman. Many times they are used to make a position that people feel is “unglamorous” more appealing. The rifleman position is generally “point,” the forward most posted soldier in a formation. The “point” acts a scout in most cases, moving slowly forward sweeping the way for the rest of the team, watching for ambushes, improvised explosives devices, and signs of enemy locations and movements.
This is what makes the rifleman one of the most important positions while a squad or fire team is on the move. That rifleman has to be on top of his or her field craft. He or she has to know what they are doing. If not, the potential of walking into an ambush and the whole team being wiped out is present.
Airsoft Rifleman: The Role
It was presented earlier about rifleman not being snipers. This holds true to fact, but rifleman can be designated certain other duties to include those of the rifleman position.
1. DM or Designated Marksman – Using an Optical Sight System, the rifleman operates as a Designated Marksman; taking shots at enemy personnel, marking targets with tracer rounds and etc. They are not snipers, as they do not conduct themselves as sniper teams, but rather as a member of their squad and fire team. DMs are more about taking distance kill shots, and less about gathering intelligence
2. Scout – Most every rifleman acts as a Scout, slightly in advance of the fire team or squad. As stated previously looking for ambush signs, enemy locations, and etc.
These are two primary roles of a Rifleman. In airsoft, the rifleman is pretty much every airsofter out there. Unless you are actually using a Sniper Weapon System or a Heavy Weapon, you’re a rifleman without even knowing it, conducting your actions on an every day basis within your team and squad. A good squad leader or fire team leader relies heavily on their rifleman, as they are the eyes and ears of the unit. Often forward of the team, riflemen see and hear things many others don’t pick up on. Also due to their light load-out, rifleman make excellent runners. Able to get intelligence back to rear areas and make it back alive.
Playing as a rifleman in your squad or fire team, can lead to having a greater understanding of your weapons capabilities, tactics, and strategy; As well as allow you to further branch out in different avenues when you’re a bit more experienced.
In the military, every member starts as a basic rifleman, as so it should be in airsoft. If you want to get a good grasp on what you need to be doing as an airsofter, start as a rifleman.
A lot of different positions are very specialized. Meaning they focus primarily on one sort of skill set or another. The great thing about filling the rifleman role is you can “multirole,”and train in a variety of disciplines. Riflemen want to be good at their field craft. Be able to move silently through underbrush; keeping a low profile, and remaining camouflaged. Be able to navigate from point “A”, to point “B”, with minimal stops in between, to gauge their location. Utilize terrain features to make pinpoint accurate locations of positions. Be able to provide cover fire in direct contact. Move rapidly forward with flanking movements that will get their team out of a jam.
The rifleman position in and of itself, is a complete skill set, rather then just a position. Encompassing primarily every other position within a fire team or squad. Riflemen should be trained in navigation, field craft, stealth and camouflage, direct fire, supporting fire, firing and maneuvering, marksmanship, and formations and hand signals. These are, just to name a few, the many skills needed to fulfill the rifleman position.
But your sitting here going, “No way. Why are they are just on point? They are expendable?” That’s the point. They aren’t. An assault on an enemy position can be successful or falter, all depending on the riflemen within the squad or fire team.
So next time you’re setting up your team training, or even your individual training; start with the basics. Regardless of who is your sniper, heavy weapons, or recon, or whatever titles you give to your individuals with special weapons or mindset; make everyone a rifleman. Start them off with the basics. Work on their field craft, navigation, and formations. You can field a team completely full of riflemen and take that field, dominate on it, and push the enemy from it. But only if your riflemen have the mindset to do it and the training behind the mindset. However, if you look at the rifleman position as nothing more then a “rookie” or the ever-hated “newbie” position, you’re seriously cutting the effectiveness on the field to pieces.
The Rifleman – It starts and ends with this position. This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine.
Written by Lex
Many thanks to Ashleigh Wright for the photos