The conduct of fire : fire for effect





Fire for effect (стрелба на поражениеtir d’efficacité). Fire for effect is the fire delivered after the fire has been adjusted in order to produce effect upon the target. Great importance is attached to open effective fire at the enemy in the shortest time after coming into action, in order to make his return fire ineffective. When the range is found, the accurate fire proceeds with until the target is completely destroyed.

Depending upon the nature of the target and upon the accuracy with which the adjustment has been secured, the fire for effect can be of two general kinds :

    Fire at single range (стрелба съ един мерник, tir sur hausse unique) : it is employed when  an accurate adjustment has been occurred. It is adapted to the attack of all stationary targets upon which an exact adjustment has been secured, or for the attack of moving targets as they reach a position upon which the fire has been previously registered. It is regarded as accurate and economic since, if the fire is properly adjusted, it can produce the necessary effect with the minimum expenditure of ammunition. The switch to fire at single range takes place at in the middle of the low bracket. At this elevation, a group of one battery series is fired with rounds set for low bursts to finally check the location of the trajectories relative to the target and to manage the fuze if this has not already been done. Switch to good heights is done according to the observations of the group and to the type of the target. When the observation of the bursts and of the fall of the bullets is good, the battery can switch directly to fire for effect, without firing the group of rounds set for low bursts. 

    Fire on an area, or searching fire, i.e. at successive ranges (стрелба по площад or стрелба съ разни мерници, tir par salves ou rafales échelonnées) : it is appropriate when it is impossible to secure exact adjustment upon the target. In that, case it is preferable to enclose the target within the smallest limits that can be determined with surety and reasonable promptness and then to search the area thus enclosed by fire at successive ranges. Percussion fire is used only when the bracket cannot be narrowed below 100 m, and there is an inanimate target that must be destroyed at any cost. In this case, guns open a storm of fire every 25 m, with two or more shells per gun fired at each sight. Throughout the fire, the shots at each range are carefully observed, and as soon as it is seen which of the various ranges is the most favourable, or else between which sights the target falls, the battery immediately switches to fire at single range.


The methods of fire usually employ to produce effect upon a target were :

    Single-shot fire by order (огън по команда) : at an order or at a sign of the battery commander, the guns fire at the same elevation, beginning from the right (with smoking powder from leeward) in succession by gun, by platoon or by battery. It is used as percussion fire against inanimate targets, in order to harass the enemy, when it does not offer a god target.

    Slow fire at a set speed (редък огън, с определена скорост – salvo) : at an order of the senior platoon commander, each gun fires 1 to 3 rounds per minute, according with the indication of the commander of the battery, in succession beginning from the right. If the firing speed is not set, the guns fire a round every 15 seconds. It is used in order to harass the enemy.

    Storm of fire (ураганен огънrafales) : it consists of a fixed number of rounds (usually 4) of rapid fire from each gun at the same elevation. Every gun fires as soon as it is ready, without waiting its turn. When it is necessary to fire more than 4 rounds, they are divided into two or more series, separated by a short pause. It is used to overwhelm a target rapidly or abruptly and to fire against a train.

    Progressive fire (прогресивен огънtir progressif), is done only with shrapnel with time fuze and can be :

1)    at will (прогресивен произволен) : it begins after a 200 m bracket is obtained by firing battery series. Starting at an elevation 100 m less than the short limit of the bracket, each gun fires two rounds of time shrapnel, fuzed to burst at a height of 3/1000 of the range, followed by two more at an elevation and a fuze increased by 100 m, and so on till each gun has fired eight rounds in quick succession. It is used up to 3000 m for field guns and up to 2000 m for mountain guns in order to knock out instantly targets like cavalry, not shielded artillery and moving, limbering or unlimbering shielded artillery.

2)    at an order (прогресивен по команда) : it is carried out in the same way, but waiting the order of the battery commander. It can be used at any range, but at great ranges, the difference between the elevations is of 50 m instead of 100 m. It is used in any other case and by night, especially to shell quickly a deep area.

    Sweeping fire (огън съ косенеtir fauchant) : it is used to shell a target of considerable breadth, i.e. more than 25-30 m and less than 50-60 m per gun, both with storm of fire and sweeping fire. The fire of each gun is shifted after each shot by 4 turns of the hand-wheel. Each gun, after the first  round, gives successively 3 turns of the traversing wheel left, 3 more turns left, back again to centre, 3 turns right, 3 more left, back again to centre, and so on. Usually the turnings of traverse are 4 (approximately 7 millièmes) at ranges below 2000 m or 8 (approximately 14 millièmes) at greater ranges. The sweeping moves the successive points of burst by intervals of about 5 millièmes. With progressive fire the range is changed every 3 rounds.

    Fire to break up (огън съ обсейване – double fauchage) : it is used up to 2000 m, when the battery front is more than 200 m. Each gun fires quickly five rounds, with eight turnings of the traverse. This procedure enables a single gun to cover a target 50 m wide at 2500 m long. The cannons are moved on the axis to the right and placed at 40 millièmes right from zero and are laid 10 m to the left of the right end of their sector. After the command to open fire, five rounds are fired rapidly, and after each round the direction of the gun is moved to the left by 8 turns of the handle of lateral adjustments mechanism. After the first group of five rounds, if a command or signal is given for a second group, the guns fire five more rounds in the same manner but to the right, then again to the left, etc. It is used against infantry lines deployed on wide fronts.

A well-trained four guns battery, without prejudice to execution and laying, should be able to fire rapidly at the rate of one round per second (about 50-60 rounds per minute). However, the rapidity of fire should never be at the expense of good laying of the gun. With time firing for effect at high targets, the lateral never requires the same accuracy as adjusting and firing at shielded artillery or with firing.


Artillery must absolutely avoid to fire at a range which may be dangerous to its own troops. To check whether it is possible to fire over our own troops, the gun is laid at the target with the appropriate bar sight and, without moving it, the graduated ruler is placed at the distance to the troops, increased by 800 m :  if the graduated ruler passes over the heads of the troops, fire is allowed.

Usually with time shrapnel, the guns must not fire when its troops are less than 500 m in front of the battery and about 200 m far from the enemy, except when the shape of the place allows it. With percussion shell, they can fire even when their troops are 100 m far from the enemy. When the enemy is deployed in an oblique position, artillery can fire until its infantry arrives at 200-100 m far from the enemy.


Distribution of fire. As a rule, the fire of the battery is distributed over the entire front of the target from the very beginning of the shooting, but if the target is not clearly visible, or it is placed obliquely to the battery, the distribution must be decided only after the target has been bracketed.

A battery can beat effectively a front of 25 m with percussion fire for the destruction of material objects (стрелба за разрушение, fire for demolition), or a front of 100 m at every range with time fire. A front 200-220 m long must be shelled with sweeping fire, while fronts long more than 200 m with fire to break up. Time fire is not distributed over the front, if the width of the target is 30 m or less, while it is distributed by platoons if its width is 30-60 m or by guns if it is 60-120 m.

Fire in depth is distributed only when the target is deeper than 100 m within a range of 3000 m for the field artillery and 2000 m for the mountain artillery or deeper than 50 m at greater ranges.

If the target to be attacked has a continuous front, the guns at the end are directed 10 m inside of the flanks, in order to converge the fire upon its centre. If the target looks like mounds (guns in firing position, infantry company in column of platoons) with an interval lesser than 25 m the fire is like with a continuous front, but if the interval is greater every gun fires at some mounds in succession.


Fire at different targets. The Directive lists the different targets that the artillery may meet with on the battlefield (troops, field fortifications, houses, villages…), explaining how fire at them.


Fire at moving targets. As a rule, moving targets are shot with direct fire.

If the target is moving quickly, like cavalry or field artillery, progressive fire is adopted, starting at the low limit of the 200 m bracket, when the enemy is retreating, or 100 m less than this limit, when it is advancing. When cavalry moves towards the battery and approaches within 700m or infantry within 400m, quick-firing guns switch to shrapnel fire set at zero, and not quick-firing guns to case shots.

If the target is moving slowly, like infantry, machine guns or mountain artillery, two different methods can be adopted: 1) the guns shoot at the 200 m bracket, firing in succession or by progressive fire at an order; 2) they shoot with slow fire in the direction of the movement until the target enters the shelled area, and, when the rounds fall close to or on the target, they switch to a storm of fire of two rounds, one at the same elevation, the other with a difference of 100 m. If the target stops or lays down, the space between the ranges is shelled with a storm of fire as if on a static target. It is also possible to register the fire upon one or two points of the battlefield and as soon as the enemy reaches it, the artillery fires a storm of fire of two rounds.

If the target is mowing sideways, the guns aim as against a static target, moving the fire towards the side of the movement according with its gait : at walk 5 millièmes, at trot 10 millièmes, at gallop 15 millièmes.

If the target is moving jerkily the 200 m bracket is chosen, and when the target is seen moving within the limit of the bracket, the guns shell it with progressive fire at an order or with fire by series.

Against a train, the adjustment is done with percussion fire, aiming at an object quite in front of the train and firing a group of shots (two battery salvos) at the middle of the 50 m bracket. Fire for effect is done with a storm of fire, using H.E. shells, taking into account the speed of the train (at 30 km per hour it travels 10 m in 1’).


Night fire. At night artillery can fire only at wide targets, when their position are exactly fixed and the range roughly known. Since it is impossible adjust the fire, in daylight auxiliary aiming points should be placed on the battlefield and firing data fixed, and by night the guns are laid with the goniometer and the level. It is also advisably to mark the points that the enemy may occupy. To observe the movements of hostile troops, the batteries send ahead some scouts, provided of maps and accurate sketches of the country and linked by telephone or by signals. As soon as the enemy is located, the whole area is shelled in deep with progressive fire. Against illuminated targets the adjustment is possible with the help of lateral observatories. Ammunition is placed near the guns, which are equipped with two lanterns, one for the fuze-setter, the other for the goniometer and the level. When a battery is overtaken by the night in position, it must keep their guns ready to fire at a given place, mainly at close range. The gunners pass the night near their guns, and one of them stands on duty.

Moving artillery by night requires special preparations. If a battery has to approach the enemy lines under the cover of the darkness, the day before the ground must be accurately reconnoitred, the emplacements and their approaches chosen and marked, the firing data fixed. To make easier the night movement, every gun of the battery sends a scout, who acquaints himself or herself with the selected place. To shorten the way, by day the batteries approaches their firing positions out of the sight of the enemy, remaining in awaiting position until the nightfall. The emplacements must be occupied keeping the order and maintaining complete silence.

If the position has to be not only occupied, but also chosen by night, the place must be first examined on the map, then sought on the ground, reconnoitred as far as the darkness allowed it, marked and finally the guns are guided to occupy their places.


Switch of fire. The entire battery shifts fire to a new target not only when the old one is hit or destroyed, but also whenever a new target appears nearby, or presents a greater danger to our troops than the old one. When a new adjustment or even controlling the distance with a few shots is required to fire at a new target, one gun is appointed to do this, and the other guns open a storm of fire of several rounds at old target and then start to fire at the new target. If the front of the new target, which must be immediately destroyed, does not require the entire artillery to be engaged, only a part of it fire at this target, while the rest continue firing at the old target.

When a new target appears at approximately the same distance as the old one, and the area around the target is well observed, the distance is controlled with one battery series and then the guns switch to fire for effect by series, until the bursts are visible also on the opposite side of the target. If the distance is quite large and the difference cannot be estimated, or the area around the target cannot be observed, a new adjustment is required.

The direction lists some signs of a good fire, emphasizing that fire must be observed all the time to judge whether the target has been hit, especially whit animate targets that can move without being noticed at any moment.


Cease fire. In order to spare ammunition and keep them for the crucial moment of the battle, the fire must be interrupted when the goal is achieved, the effect is insignificant, aiming and sighting are impossible by mist and darkness, or ammunition is lacking. In any case, the artillery must not leave its emplacements without an order. If the battery is heavily shelled by the enemy, it can suspend its fire to hide the gunners, especially if the guns has no shields, but, as soon as the shelling ended, it must open again its fire.


Firing practice. This part of the text is essentially the same as the corresponding part of the Direction for firing published in 1902, the small differences mainly concern the firing procedures of the new quick firing guns. In particular, the directive introduces the competition shooting to encourage in the aimers the skill of aiming accurately, quickly and uniformly. Here I list only the most important innovations.


The sequence of the training fire for the officers was changes as follows :

1)    Percussion adjustment on inanimate target on flat terrain, without determining the deviation;

2)    Percussion adjustment on a target in a sloping, clearly observed area, with the determination of deviation;

3)    Adjustment with time fire in order to fire at one range at an animate target in the open;

4)    Adjustment with time fire on an animate target in masked position, informing the firer where it was;

5)    Adjustment with time fire on a target in masked position revealed by the flashes of its fire;

6)    Organizing the fire and making the adjustment from a masked position on a shielded battery in the open;

7)    Organizing the fire and making the adjustment from a covered position.


The release of the ammunition for the instruction of the artillery units changes as follows :



Artillery division

Field battery

Mountain battery

Projectiles without charge and fuze




Shell with charge and fuze








Case shot or shrapnel



For not QF batteries

Battering charge




Common fuze





The types of fire to be carried out by field or howitzer batteries remain unchanged, while for the mountain batteries the fire with a little charge at targets in covered position is eliminated. Fire at the smoke is replaced by fire at targets in masked position identified by flashes or instructions.



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