The sun was already high in the sky as we arrived at the 50-meter shooting range, the air heavy with anticipation. Settled just behind an abandoned runway, this range had become a familiar training ground for us. There was tension, but a low hum of conversation and an occasional laugh kept things grounded. In this blog post, I’ll take you on a journey through a day of a legionnaire’s shooting session in the French Foreign Legion.
Lieutenant Moreau*, our platoon leader, stepped forward to distribute the ammunition, his eyes sharp as he surveyed us. He reminded us of the four safety rules:
- treat every weapon as if it were loaded
- never point a weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot
- keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire
- be sure of your target and what’s beyond it
These rules were drilled into our minds, a mantra we recited before each training session since the farm.
Glock Gen5 and HK416F
The Glock Gen5 and the HK416F were the weapons we used during this session, as they are the standard firearms in service with the French Army. Each weapon boasted its own distinct characteristics. The Glock Gen5, a semi-automatic pistol with a magazine capacity of 17 rounds, featured a versatile and lightweight design, an ambidextrous slide stop lever, and enhanced accuracy with its improved barrel. With a maximum effective range of around 50 meters, it was a reliable sidearm for close-quarters combat.
The HK416F, an assault rifle with a standard 30-round magazine capacity, was known for its precision, reliability, and adaptability. The rifle had a maximum effective range of 300 to 500 meters, depending on the variant. It utilized a short-stroke gas piston system, which reduced the carbon fouling in the chamber, improving reliability and reducing maintenance. The HK416F was also compatible with various accessories and modifications, making it a versatile choice for different combat scenarios.
Adapting to Uncertainty
During the session, each of us received a specific number of rounds for each exercise, sometimes with a magazine of only 13 cartridges, another with 25, and a third with 3. This inconsistency forced us to adapt to the uncertainty and train for emergency magazine changes, ensuring we were prepared for the unpredictable nature of real combat situations.
Training Scenarios and Techniques
The session began with the usual weapon adjustments and warm-up shots. Then, the real training kicked in. Paired in duos, we progressed from 50 meters to 5 meters, stopping to shoot at Lieutenant Moreau’s command. We had to pay close attention to our shooting speed, ensuring our magazines didn’t empty simultaneously. Moreau also dictated our shooting positions: standing, on one knee, prone, or crouching.
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The Physical Demands
It was during these exercises that we contemplated the potential difficulty of engaging an enemy in real combat situations. One such training experience involved an exhausting short parcours, where we had to run from point to point, weighed down by our SMB (Structure Modulaire Balistique) bulletproof vests. The vests were crucial in simulating the weight and restrictions we would face in a real-life scenario. Despite being briefed on the parcours beforehand, the physical strain imposed by the vests made it challenging to stay sharp and focused.
As the session drew to a close, we engaged in a friendly competition. With our Glocks, we participated in a simple accuracy challenge using 20 cartridges. The three worst shooters would be responsible for buying beer for the entire platoon at the company’s club. Sometimes, we also competed with our HK416s in a test of accuracy and speed. We had 30 cartridges to hit a specific part of the target while moving in various directions. Each missed round added a two-second penalty to our overall time.
The day’s training concluded with the smell of gunpowder hanging in the air. The dedication to our craft and the friendly rivalry that emerged during these shooting sessions was just another day in the life of a French Foreign Legionnaire.
Join the Adventure
If you’re looking for excitement, camaraderie, and a chance to prove your mettle, why not consider joining the French Foreign Legion and experiencing it for yourself?
If you want to become a legionnaire, check out our app. It includes IQ tests, the official Luc Leger soundtrack, workouts for all levels, and French-English vocabulary. Enhance your preparation and increase your chances of success with this essential tool for future legionnaires.
*Not his real name