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Some people say they can accurately shoot hundreds of yards with their pistol. Foghorn’s shown us you can hit what you want at 1,000 yards for about the price of a Rock Island 1911. But for really reaching out and touching something, none of them has anything on Lance Corporal Adam Schold…

Marine Week rolled into St. Louis on Monday giving thousands the chance to climb on tanks, sit in cockpits and shoot M4s at a virtual range. But the annual promotional event gave me an opportunity to indulge my interest in artillery. No really. Potato guns are fun, but backyard ballistics only go so far. So to speak.

LCpl. Schold is a gunner in an M777 lightweight towed howitzer crew. It’s a fearsome projectile launcher capable of putting 155mm shells on a target at a distance of up to eighteen miles. Rocket-assisted shells can rain hellfire down on the enemy up to twenty-four miles away. I can’t wait to see what Karl Lippard can do when he gets around to modifying one of these babies!

Of course, the M777 is slightly more labor intensive than my potato flinger. LCpl. Schold’s responsible for making sure the gun’s placed and ready to fire. The full crew is made up of eight soldiers but can still be effective with as few as five.

Once the order’s given, LCpl. Schold controls the gun’s deflection (left and right adjustment to you and me). Another Marine mans the quadrant (up and down) controls. Both are GPS assisted and ensure incoming shells land within about 50 ft of their target.

While the gun’s rated at four rounds per minute, Schold and his crew can crank out six through that rifled barrel when they really get rolling. And the cannon’s mostly titanium construction makes the M777 light enough to be quickly delivered anywhere it’s needed by a V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor or CH-47 Chinook chopper.

Seeing these fearsome weapons up close and personal gives you a healthy respect for what they’re capable of. Talking to impressive Marines like LCpl. Schold makes you glad we have men like him who know how to use them.

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  1. There is nothing to compare with the power and the sound of cannon fire. It demoralizes the foe (to say nothing of blowing away their asses and their assets) and energizes the friends. Artillery, now and probably forever, is the Queen of Battles.

    • Chess reference, Joseph. The Queen is the most powerful piece on the board. The King is kind of a putz, hanging out in the rear with the gear and trying to stay out of harm’s way.

  2. IGOTD:The US military. Why is it that none of the guys in that video have hearing protection?

    • I had exactly the same thought. They plug their ears with their fingers right before the cannon fires. Mostly.

      Makes FPSRussia looks almost sensible.

      • Artillerymen used to keep their mouths wide open during firing to equalize pressure on their eardrums. Is this still protocol?

    • They probably just have plugs.

      I have a friend of a friend who goes shooting with us occasionally, who was an artillery man. He’s got fine hearing.

      I think he said the gun they fired was like 180 db. Also, they were given some type of standard plug, he opted to buy some better quality type.

  3. Infantry is known as the Queen of Battle, and the artillery IS in the rear with the gear, providing support to the front lines. That maximum range of 18 miles has to be good for something, right?

    • Actually, you’ve only got that half right. In maneuver warfare, the firing batteries of an artillery regiment move independently and in close coordination with other ground elements. Marine artillery firing batteries carry more organic weaponry than a heavy weapons company, which is why artillery units so frequently have been used as provisional rifle companies in Iraq. Artillery units advance behind the infantry, of course, but you’re really making it out to be more extreme than is the case.

      Your average 0811 sees no more of the rear than your average 0311. Just because the howitzer can fling a round 18 miles doesn’t mean they’re shooting red bag all the time. Actually, you see more green bag or white bag missions. RAP missions are even more rare.

  4. USMC arty in Desert Storm – we were often in front of infantry. Also I’m mostly deaf on one ear with tinitis in bothfrom the exposure to the noise. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything

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