Table of contents:
- Tactical shooting in the NKVD
- The TT pistol was the main weapon for training
- About weapons
- About shooting technique
- Lapping and shooting practice
- About selection and official tutorials
The methods were classified as secret, when bullets were easily dodged and they shot masterfully in Macedonian style. High-speed shooting, blanking, tactical reloading, jokehouses, CQB, sound and flash shooting and much more.
Tactical shooting in the NKVD
Probably every person who has been keen on weapons since childhood knows the book "The Moment of Truth". Reading about Captain Tamantsev, shooting accurately with two hands and swinging the pendulum, it is impossible to believe that not a single instruction or textbook on this unique art has come down to us.
When it comes to Soviet-era "tactical shooting" techniques, there is no compromise. Some say that no techniques existed, all "armed professionals" fired three rounds once a year from the PM and nothing more. And of course, until the beginning of the 2000s, there were simply no training methods.
The second group, the number of members of which is decreasing every year, say the opposite - there were methods, but under the stamp, people were also there, but secret. And they easily dodged bullets, and shot masterfully in Macedonian style, and then Khrushchev's purges, Brezhnev's stagnation, Gorbachev's perestroika, the nineties took place, and in the end “these clowns with their practical shooting” finally brought all art to naught.
After that, the conversation often continues in the vein that there is still a chance to revive the ancient art, so if you buy my book / enroll in my course, I will tell you all the painstakingly preserved secrets of the ancient art of the KGB ninja.
The best way to describe the situation at the moment is a wonderful instructor, an excellent shooter and a true professional in his field, Andrei Sh.: “As for the legends about the pendulum … I talked with many people who saw people who know how to swing a pendulum. But never in my life have I communicated with a person who himself knows how to swing a pendulum. Therefore, were there people who actually did it? Perhaps, perhaps. But I haven't seen them. I only saw people who saw people who swung the pendulum."
Fortunately, there are still those who can tell everything in the first person. It is with an interview with such a person that I would like to begin the search for the truth on this issue.
High-speed shooting, idling, Macedonian shooting, tactical reloads, jokehouses, CQB, sound and flash shooting and much more. All this was well known to the officers of the army that won the worst war in history.
- Tell us, please, where did you serve, how were the firepower training sessions conducted?
- In 1950, I served in a separate tank brigade in Alytus, Lithuania, and with us in the same complex, in the same town, there was a unit of the NKVD, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or rather then, which fought with the "forest brothers".
I must say that by this time the main such large detachments of the forest brothers had already been eliminated, but many small groups remained. And very often during the evening verification, we heard a funeral march playing next to our neighbors - they were burying the guys who died during these clashes. And we always had some kind of competition and so on with them. And one of the types of such competitions was shooting competitions.
I must say that the peculiarity of that time was that all platoon commanders were, as a rule, senior lieutenants. That is, these were people who fought for 44–45 years. And they had a lot of experience in the conduct of street battles: in houses, indoors, in corridors, on staircases, and so on.
This is very important, because it is clear that when the army was retreating, there was no need for all these types of shooting. But when we went already forward, through the cities, the need arose immediately. The need always gives rise to some things, and not reading textbooks, instructions, and so on and so on. There was something before that, there was something before that - we knew nothing of this. We knew what we knew. And since we were competing all the time, we were engaged in approximately the same program as the guys from the neighboring brigade.
The first exercise we had was called an iron. It consisted in what they gave you … Now I have not seen such people even anywhere else … A hefty rustic cast-iron iron. I don't know how much he weighed, but no less than 5–6 kg. And it was necessary to learn how to hold it like this (stretches out his hand) or on a bent arm so that the hand does not tremble. And then, when things got more complicated, this exercise was still central. So that the hand does not tremble. This was the first and most important thing.
The second was what we called … This is all a purely conventional name. We called it the mill. We had a place for shooting, a shooting range, which was a ditch descending … They dug out with bulldozers. It ended with an earthen wall. And there was a wall that imitated a two-story house. Approximately 4 windows on the first floor, 4 windows on the second floor.
And behind it was what we called the "mill". There was a turntable, and there were targets at different levels of the blades. Moreover, the targets that represented the head target. That is, it meant that the enemy does not crawl out to you like a growth target in the window, but somewhere from the corner of the window he leads an aimed fire. The blades were at different levels so that the target could appear on the first floor and on the second floor. (We discussed in detail the design of the target after the interview. The Mill is, as they say today, the “Texas star”, with cardboard targets instead of metal plates, which is remotely driven and allows you to select the speed of the target display. but is behind an obstacle, showing targets in the windows for a few seconds. I don’t know of a single modern target complex that would so effectively allow you to train in shooting at emerging targets. - Author's note).
The TT pistol was the main weapon for training
- And who and how set it in motion, how was it done?
- Then everything was done only with the help of ropes. The soldier was sitting in cover, of course.
This exercise was aimed at developing the rate of fire. As in modern biathlon, with the only difference that in biathlon you have fixed targets that are fixed in one line, but here the target could appear anywhere.
To begin with, there appeared only, say, somewhere on the second floor, the second window on the right. The time for a shot was released on the basis of how long it would take for an ordinary enemy to shoot at you. So it was about seconds. Well, at first, of course, it was a little more, and then it got smaller and smaller.
Then two figures could appear, on the first and on the second floor, at different times or at the same time, and it was necessary to have time to make two shots, again, in a very short time. This was one of the main exercises.
But the most difficult was the third stage, when what was called "directional shooting" was practiced. If we take an analogue, then golf is probably the closest thing to this. Because when you watch a golfer driving this ball into a hole slightly larger than an egg from a distance of thirty or forty meters, this is the development of the habit of shooting in the direction, that is, you draw this line with your eyes and that's it.
And there was a lot of preliminary exercises. At that moment, when a figure appeared, and this was already carried out on growth targets, it was necessary to poke a finger exactly there. Absolutely exactly. Naturally, this was all checked. And then you started shooting.
The fact is that this so-called "iron" worked out one very important thing … When did you get the TT in your hands, and the shooting was, as a rule, from the TT. As a rule, officers still had some "Walters", "Parabellums" from the war … But as a rule, the competitions were held on TT. After the iron, the TT touched in general with a feather. And the task was to synchronize the gaze and direction of the hand. Like golf. This is the hardest part. If, as they say, this plastic is given to you - then it immediately turns out … Not given - then I don't know, maybe if you exercise for a long, long time, you will succeed. This was a very important area.
Then a separate exercise was on various moving targets.
- And how was it done?
- I will explain. This, too, was born not from fiction, but from need. The fact is that Alytus, where these hostilities were fought, are forests, this is the Neman. And in the forest in front of you all the time there are tree trunks. And in order not to "bunch wood", as we said, we trained.
What are trees? The movement is broken down into "frames". A moving tape was made, where there was a space between each "frame". And the target is like a man running through the forest. And the distance between shots was only one or two seconds, this exactly imitated shooting in the forest (the design of this complex was also discussed in detail. A wall was built separating the arrow from the conveyor with a moving target. There were open areas in the wall through which the shooter for a second- two could see a moving target and shoot. This imitated the appearance of a target when dashing between trees. The direction and speed of movement of the target was constantly changing. An elementary design, which does not require budget funding and state targeted programs. However, I have not seen a single such complex in our country. - Author's note).
And in the same way, it was practiced approximately, it was especially important for the guys, shooting by ear. Suppose business happens at night or, say, in a cache.
After all, there was a difficulty in what was - some of these forest brothers, she plowed during the day, sowed, milked cows and so on, and at night they pulled out their "Schmeissers", went out onto this highway and repaired these bitches there.
And the main staff guys, those who were in charge, they were in the caches. And the caches are a system of dugouts, built like trenches, with zigzags, and there was some kind of central underground structure. They could only be found with the help of dogs. And so it was necessary to learn how to act in the dark. And this, too, was done very simply. That is, in a dark room, such as a dugout. In different places of the walls of this dugout, growth targets were set, and cans, bottles, whatever … And all this too - ropes and so on.
And when you entered this dark room, and your eyes were already starting to get used to it, this noise was heard somewhere from the side, and you should have fired immediately. This is also a very difficult exercise, you must very accurately determine the source of the sound. This was considered one of the most difficult.
After all, how they fought in these caches … When they found a hatch, an inlet, and always found an exit, because there is always a whole system. The hatch was opened, an anti-tank grenade was thrown there, and at the same moment someone jumped there from a PPSh, always with a large disk magazine, or simply with a degtyarevsky handbrake, such as a disk, and fired without looking anywhere. This allowed others to load there, in the dungeon, and so they passed, span after span, these zigzags. And then another … In general, there were a bunch of other ways - flares and so on and so on. So, this is how it worked out.
But the central, as I think, in this matter were two things: shooting in the direction - synchronizing the movement of the eye and the movement of the hand, that is, when you just saw and can immediately shoot. You don't need to see, then start aiming, no one will give you time for this. Naturally, after all, the one who takes you at gunpoint - he will not wait. And the second is shooting by ear, to the light.
I must say that in the standards of the competition this type of shooting was not provided for anywhere, because there were normal exercises, as in the standards of the TRP: standing, lying, kneeling, and so on. But the officers and in general those who participated in these competitions, they simply despised this type of shooting, they believed that it was for those who shoot (laughs).
But it was this … Something that affected their professional honor.
I repeat - all this was not from reading any instructions, instructions, it was worked out by the very practice of conducting battles in special conditions. Then, when you had no opportunity to aim, nothing.
Of course, both shooting at sound and shooting at night - they preferred a submachine gun, but not a PPSh, bulky, with this healthy box, but such, in my opinion, they were called PP …
Submachine gun Sudaev (PPS)
- PPP, iron such?
- Yes, iron, with a folding stock and a horn magazine. It was convenient, we then wore tarpaulin boots, not these creaky boots, and we could stuff the horns into the bootleg. And it was light compared to the PPSh. And he made it possible to quickly maneuver.
But here's shooting at targets, and what the movies like to show when you shoot from under the elbow. Behind you they shout “Stop! Hands up!" and you start moving, like you raise your arms and at this time "bang" you shoot from under your arm - it's just a pistol, of course, because no one with a machine gun will give you the opportunity to turn around.
The exercises that I described were the main credits.
This is what I remember.
- So, the credits are the exercises "Mill" and "Shooting in the direction", right?
- Brilliant story, thank you very much. Now I would like to ask a few questions, some of them have already been answered, but I will repeat myself.
So, years of service, then did you serve three years? 1950 to 1953?
- Yes. But in the summer of 1951, this problem with the forest brothers was resolved. Because by that time they had begun to settle these farms, in fact, they had carried out collectivization. In our country, collectivization was carried out on the basis of the elimination of the kulaks, and there, on the basis of the elimination of the forest brothers. They settled in, immediately created people's guards …
In principle, the problem was resolved, and we were transferred to other places, in particular, I was transferred to Kazan.
- You had a tank brigade, and your unit did not participate in these actions?
- No. By the way, the forest brothers were very different. If there was a hunt for the guys from the neighboring brigade and they could not even come close to the barbed wire, because they could immediately get a bullet in the forehead, then they did not touch us.
There were cases, of course, our officers went to the so-called officers' house in the city of Alytus itself and took with them a couple of submachine gunners who accompanied them. And one day, one of our officers lagged behind and in the dark it was not visible - a tanker, an MVD officer.. And they slapped him, however, a through wound happened. They approached, saw that the tanker was, dragged him into the city, put him on the porch of the hospital, called and left (laughs).
Shooting range equipment
- It's charming … I wanted to clarify what the training facilities were?
Once again, there were no instructions on this, so who invented what is good. For example, shooting glass bottles in the dark wasn't all that safe. But there they assessed not hitting the bottle, but hitting this growth target, which stood somewhere in the corner. But nothing else was at hand!
The distances, by the way, from which the shooting was carried out, were different. For example, when the so-called facade of the house was in front of you, it was about 25 meters - the maximum distance. It was at the “registration” competitions that they sometimes made a distance of 50 m, and even then they shot mostly from “parabellums”. And where it was about real work, the distance was 10-15 m.
By the way, there was one more exercise, “shooting indoors”. It was done like this - you seem to be in a room, and the room has two windows and a door, and you are somewhere in the corner of the room, surrounded by a table, for example. And so a tall target could appear at the doors, and waist / head targets in the windows. Moreover, they could appear one by one, at the same time. Such was the exercise.
- And how was the display of the target realized? Was there some kind of "mill" there, or what was there?
“Again, it was all monstrously primitive. Always, after all, the case ended with someone shooting and then walking with a hammer, reworking with nails, because everything was knocked off. There were two walls opposite each other, with windows, and one wall with a door (that is, the shooting was actually carried out at 180 degrees. - Author's note), imitating a village hut.
- The target as shown - on a rope, on a stick, the soldier showed?
- No, it's all on ropes. Since this is indirect shooting, then one was the iron principle - no testimony on a stick, because a soldier is a soldier. Where it is not needed, he will stick his head out and just get it. Again, apparently, after long trials, they came to this - everything only remotely, on strings: good twine, good cord. And that's all, pulled - she appeared, released - disappeared.
- And they appeared again for a short time?
- Yes. All this was calculated to learn how to shoot fast, like in biathlon. But in biathlon there are 5-6 seconds, and here it is less, about 3 seconds, 2-4 maximum. No, even 4 was never given.
- I will clarify why I am asking about the structures. Now many people say: "We want to learn how to shoot, but we definitely need a modular shooter for 10 million dollars."
- It all depends on the need. If you want to turn it into comfortable entertainment, then, of course, everything must be automated, and then it will all cost a pretty penny. But if you want to learn, then it is absolutely not necessary to do all this.
- That is, all that you had was a moat, in which there was a house and a "mill"?
- Yes, a ditch that ran along an inclined one, so that there was an earthen wall behind. It was small, a maximum of 15–20 meters.
- The length of the moat?
- It was adapted for firing from different types of weapons, even if 100 m, rifles were also fired there.
- That is, the gallery is 100 m long. Width?
- At the end there was a model of a house with four windows, from this and proceed.
- And there practically all the trainings took place, day and night?
- And for separate exercises, like "shooting at the sound" dug separate dugouts?
- Yes Yes.
- Were there any more special incredible structures?
- None of this happened.
- What weapon did you work with, did you practice the exercises? A TT pistol and a Sudaev submachine gun?
- Everything depended on the exercise. The main, the main thing is TT. As I said, the officers had their own trophy weapons. But in the competition only TT was considered. And in exercises, when shooting at sound, at light - there is already a teaching staff.
- That is, the main part of the training was with a pistol? And in percentage terms?
- No, mostly, of course, with a pistol.
- 80 percent with a pistol?
- And the Kalashnikov assault rifle was not used in these exercises?
- Then the Kalashnikov assault rifle was a secret weapon. We carried out separate shooting on it. They showed him to us, gave him, you shot, he was immediately carried away to the special security department.
- Last time we talked about surnames …
- The main shooter in our brigade was Captain Prudnikov, the commander of my battalion. How I actually got into this team. And the brigade commander was Colonel Gromov.
- Did he support these undertakings?
- I will repeat once again - this was the subject of universal enthusiasm for these front-line officers. Again, they treated all other types of shooting with undisguised contempt. When someone got into this dueling position, everyone said, "Well, you're just Pushkin … Only Dantes is missing."
About shooting technique
- By the way, at competitions, so that you know, some sometimes used the fact that they were holding two pistols, it happened like that. These were the ones who weren't sure if he could shoot quickly. Basically, everyone worked out "their" (strong, as they say now in practical shooting. - Author's note) hand. But everyone knew how to shoot with two hands. The most difficult thing in this matter is the development of the synchronicity of the gaze and the hand. That is, you saw and fired. There is no such division: first you saw, then you began to aim, and then you began to shoot. I saw and fired.
- That is, you trained to shoot with your right and left hand?
- No, some just started … It was called show-off (laughs).
- Naturally, with all this fast shooting, no one looked at the sights?
- No no. This is out of the question. If you get used to shooting, aiming, then it is obvious that in a real battle, the very first enemy will shoot you.
- Did you always hold the pistol with one hand?
- They shot from a machine gun - rested on the shoulder or?
- No, the butt was removed, folded and fired, what was called "from the belly."
- Were the targets made of paper?
- The targets were plywood. And it was considered important that you hit, because even if you just wounded, there is always the opportunity to finish off later.
- The target was hit with one shot?
“And you don’t have a second one. If the first time did not hit, then he had already received a bullet in the forehead.
- Were there any exercises where you had to shoot at stones, at bricks?
- No. This bottle shooting was especially despised. It was believed that this was all for the infantry.
- Did you pay attention to the speed of action with weapons? To recharge quickly?
- But how, and how. The trick was to reload without interrupting the direction of the weapon. Pressed, flew out, inserted. So that recharging does not take any special time.
And there was another moment, there was the “law of the last patron”. In all cases, you had to count the shots so that the last cartridge remained in the chamber. And when the last cartridge was left, you reloaded the pistol so that if a target appears at that second, and you start at that time, it means that you could fire your meat grinder.
- Were there any delays in firing on TT?
- Lord, well, TT is TT.
- And also learned to eliminate them quickly?
- No. Then I had to stop. Some, by the way, therefore trained with two pistols in order to avoid this.
The whole point of preparation was to learn how to shoot as fast as possible, so everything was geared towards that.
Cover shooting, on the move
- So, there were exercises where you had to shoot from behind cover? Did you have to hide at the table, for example?
- Yes of course. Sometimes the guys from the neighboring brigade put up such shelters, as if they were standing between the trees.
- Did you practice any kind of shooting on the move?
- Yes, it was caused by the need to shoot in the forest. Or, for example, if you were in front of the facade, where there were 4 windows at the top, 4 at the bottom, if you fired two shots, you must immediately change your position.
- But there was no such thing for a person to walk and shoot at the same time?
- No, it was not.
Lapping and shooting practice
- Did you allocate a lot of rounds for training? Was this even a problem?
- You understand, there were no such problems in those days. Since there was an enemy around, no one limited the cartridges. There are so many cartridges left from the war that the more you shoot, even into the air, the better. The problem was more with disposal. For the same reasons, we used high-explosive shells in practice shooting from tanks. A lot of this stuff remained after the war, there was nowhere to go.
It was believed that if you do not know how to shoot, you do not hit - well, go and learn to shoot: lying down, standing, from your knee, at a standing target, and so on. In this group, it was assumed that you know how to shoot, only you need to bring it in line with the situation.
- Training without a cartridge, did you practice idling?
- Necessarily. Let's say how to train directional shooting.
- And he was given a lot of attention?
- It's the most important. In all this, as you call it, practical shooting, this was the main thing.
- Did you have any special holsters or did you sew them yourself?
- No, none of that happened. I don't know if it existed at all, but we didn't.
- Tell us about training in other divisions. It is clear that it was carried out in the neighboring brigade of the NKVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs).
- We had a common territory with them. Different canteens, however, because those guys were fed a little better, we were mostly fed with oatmeal. And so the communication went on all the time.
- It was very well told about shooting in the dark. Have flashlights ever been used in these shootings?
- No, no, there was no question of that. Moreover, no night vision devices, at least with us, did not exist.
- Was the rifle training individual?
- Individual preparation, but everyone was already going to the shooting.
- That is, there were no exercises where 3-4 shooters fired at the same time?
- Shooting distances?
- 25 meters was the maximum. And again, you should have hit not the top ten, but the piece.
- How often did the shooting take place?
- The fact is that Captain Prudnikov was the champion of the shooting brigade. This distinguished him from everyone else and he was allowed a lot. I remember that he always comes to the barracks, for example, asks: "What are you doing?" So at least twice a week they shot accurately.
About selection and official tutorials
- How was the selection for such training groups?
- Since I was a conscript in general, I got hit only because I had a second discharge on a pistol before being drafted. And so, as a rule, they were all officers. Those same front-line officers I spoke about.
- Have you ever seen any official manuals or instructions?
- NOTHING! It was always usually said like this "But do you remember, there we were somewhere in Berlin?" "Oh, yes, that's right, well, let's do it like this." Everything was accompanied, of course, by front-line bikes (laughs).
- And there were no official tests and standards, but there was an understanding of how it should be?
- Yes. There were traditions and customs (laughs). When I was transferred to Kazan, to another division, and I was talking about our training, they looked at me like I was crazy. They had nothing of the kind.
- Thank you very much!
So, let's summarize. By the beginning of the fifties, an effective and distinctive system of fire training had been formed in individual units of the NKVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs). The personnel learned to shoot quickly and accurately, at moving and disappearing targets, quickly reload weapons, use cover, move, shoot in the dark and at sound. The entire material base was created with our own hands, as in practical shooting, "from matches and acorns", without expensive target complexes.
Why is it now, sixty-seven years later, that most of the firepower training in law enforcement agencies is an unbearable, heartbreaking spectacle that has nothing to do with combat training?
Everyone who is professionally connected with this topic knows the answer deep down in their hearts. Bureaucracy, lack of effective structures engaged in the analysis and generalization of combat experience. People leave, and along with them, the methods, knowledge and experience that have been worked out instantly and forever disappear.
And when the need for such skills arises again, the younger generation learns from their own mistakes what their grandfathers knew seventy years ago.
With this article I would like to start the long-planned cycle "History of Shooting Skills". During seventeen years of working with weapons, I was lucky to meet a lot of talented people with their own unique experience in the use of weapons and training shooters. For various reasons, this experience is forgotten, is not passed on and disappears, just as the system of fire training, described in the article, disappeared without a trace.
If you have the opportunity to talk to the older generation, ask them about how they were prepared twenty, thirty, forty years ago - use it. I'm sure their experience can give you more than watching videos from another shooting "guru" on youtube.