Infantry: I Really Can Kill You With My Brain

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December 9, 2015: One of the more innovative techniques to improve the shooting skills of troops was to use advances (lighter, cheaper, smaller) in brain activity monitoring equipment to detect the pattern of brain activity common in known expert shooters and then use brain wave monitoring headbands that use a feedback device (vibrating or sound) to let the trainee know when he is thinking like a sharpshooter. Expert shooters, or scouts or pilots often refer to this sense of being on top of a situation as being “in the zone” Tests of this approach shows that it does work and can find “the zone” and help most troops to find it. This approach has to be developed further to make it easier for instructors and trainees to use in normal training situations. Work is underway to use the “haptic neural feedback” approach to teach other military personnel the expert techniques used by the most skilled troops.

Another option for snipers are computerized scopes. In 2014 the U.S. Army bought six XS1 computerized shooting systems. These usually go for up to $27,000 each and are expensive because they are sensor equipped and computerized to the extent that over 70 percent of first time users can hit a target over 900 meters distant with the first shot. For a professional sniper, first shot success averages about 25 percent and 70 percent on the second shot. Second shots are not always possible as the target tends to duck after the first one. The army is testing the XS1 but transferring the system to a military sniper rifle to see if this would be a major improvement for snipers. The major obstacle is the wear and tear of battlefield use. Snipers are trained to take good care of their rifles, scopes and the growing number of electronic gadgets they now use. But the XS1 is a major leap in terms of electronics and sensors.

The XS1 with the bipod, loaded and with the scope, weighs 9.25 kg (20.4 pounds). It is bolt action with a five round magazine and fires the .338 Lapua Magnum. It has a folding stock and is 1.26 meters unfolded and 1.12 folded. The fire control system on the rifle collects much information (target imagery, atmospheric conditions, cant, inclination, Coriolis Effect) but the shooter still has to estimate wind velocity and direction. The scope incorporates a display that tells the shooter how to move the rifle to hit the distant target that has been selected and when to pull the trigger. The rifle actually fires only when it is properly lined up. The manufacturer has sold nearly a thousand of these rifles so far, mainly to wealthy hunters who don’t like to miss.

Initial results of the U.S. Army testing found that soldiers who had gone through standard military rifle training would get hits on the first shot 90 percent of the time when using the XS1. In the hands of trained snipers it’s closer to 100 percent of the time. Trained snipers are very effective, but the XS1 and its technology could provide snipers and regular troops the ability to get that all-important first shot on target over 90 percent of the times. Sometimes there are targets that require that because, as any sniper knows, if the target notices the first shot he will often duck fast enough to avoid the more accurate second shot following several seconds after the first.

 

 


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