|April Smith's Classroom|
The Number One Infantry Weapon in WWI
Rifles were the standard issue infantry weapon used in World War I. They did the job and were fairly cheap to produce. Unfortunately, rifles were not the best weapon to use because the were heavy, hard to shoot accurately, and required reloading often. It was obviously not very convenient to carefully aim and constantly reload your weapon whenever you were being shot at.
Most nations had very new army recruits. There was not enough or time or officers to help these recruits learn speed and accuracy with every shot under all circumstances. The average rate of fire for these weapons with new army recruits was about eight to twelve rounds per minute with a possible range of around 4,600 feet or 0.87 of a mile, (In Moody, it would be about the distance from C.V.S. in Moody to Jack's in Moody). Though it could shoot this far without any thing stopping the bullet it would not be an accurate shot. An accurate shot could only be made at a range of about 1900 feet or 0.36 of a mile. (In Moody, it would be about the distance from Moody Park to Freds.)
The rifle was mostly used by soldiers in the infantry on the front line in order to shoot long range and by snipers. Snipers could hide themselves and accurately shoot rifles over long ranges. Snipers were valued soldiers. They worked day and night, targeting any moving object behind enemy lines. If a sniper was taken prisoner he could expect no mercy, on either side.
The rifle was the most used weapon because the rifle is a good offensive weapon. Rifles are long range weapons and do significant damage to moving targets. Bayonets could also be attached to rifles to make them a dual weapon. When ammunition ran out in close range combat, the bayonet could be used for self -defense and offensive battle.
Inefficiencies Lead to Improvements
The inefficiencies of the rifle led both sides to do extensive research in order to produce better rifles. The most notable improvements to rifles were making the bore of the gun smaller and adding bolt-action. These improvements allowed rifles to fire multiple rounds from a spring-loaded clip inserted into a rifle magazine.
Surprisingly over the course of the war, improvements were not made to rifles. It wasn't until after the Great War that these inefficiencies of the rifle were corrected. During the war, the chief concern of nations was ensuring that their nation had the money, supplies, and people to keep up a high level of rifle manufacturing. Research and development during the war was devoted to other weapons such as artillery, mortars, grenades and poison gasses.
Vocabulary to Know
ammunition: the bullets or shells shot from a weapon
bayonet: a large jagged knife that attached to the end of a rifle barrel in order to turn the rifle into a thrusting weapon
bolt action: when a sliding rod or bar shoves a cartridge into the firing chamber of a weapon
bore: the hollow part inside a gun barrel or other tube
clip: a device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit to be inserted into a magazine
defensive battle: a defense; when a nation or group of nations attempt to protect their territory from attack or invasion
defensive weapon: a weapon - usually having a short range - made or adapted for protecting a person by causing serious injury or death to the attacker
front line: the place where fighting is done face to face in a battle
inefficiencies: the inability to do something in the best way possible; when something valuable (ex. time, money, lives, ammunition) is wasted in the process of doing something
infantry: Infantry is the branch of an army that fights on foot — soldiers specifically trained to engage, fight, and defeat the enemy in face-to-face combat; and thus bear the brunt of warfare, and suffer the greatest number of casualties
magazine: the cylinder part of a weapon that holds a clip of ammunition; used to speed up the process of loading and reloading a weapon because several rounds of ammunition can be loaded at once, rather than one round being loaded at a time
manufacturing: producing a large amount of one product in a factory using machines, an assembly line, and division of labor
offensive battle: an invasion; when a nation or group of nations initiate an attack with the intent of taking over territory from the nation they are attacking
offensive weapon: a weapon - usually having a long range - made or adapted for attacking another person and causing serious injury or death
range: the distance something has covered or reached
rate of fire: the amount of bullets or ammunition a weapons can fire without having to reload
rifle: a gun, esp. one fired from shoulder level, having a long spirally grooved barrel intended to make a bullet spin and thereby have greater accuracy over a long distance.
sniper: a gunman who's job is to pick of targets on the opposing side in a battle because he is an expert at shooting accurately over a long range
standard issue: the basic supplies given to everyone in the armed forces when they become a soldier