Engaging moving targets is something that you will routinely face when you are competing against the “living”. There are various methods out there for engaging moving targets, I am going to show you one of the simplest “rules of thumb” used for hitting them.
To hit a target moving laterally, the firer places the trailing edge of the front sight post at target center. The single-lead rule automatically increases the lead as the range to the target increases.
As the distance increases the spatial relationship between your sight post and the target increases. This illustration shows how this works. The front sight post will cover about 1.6 inches at 15 meters and about 16 inches at 150 meters. Since the center of the front sight post is the actual aiming point, placing the trailing edge of the front sight post at target center provides a .8-inch lead on a 15-meter target and an 8-inch lead on a target at 150 meters.
This is rule will give you a dead-center hit on a 15-meter target moving at 7 miles per hour at a 25-degree angle because the target moves .8 inches between the time the rifle is fired and the bullet arrives at the target. A 150-meter target moving at 7 miles per hour at a 25-degree angle moves 8 inches between the time the weapon is fired and the bullet arrives.
If the target is moving faster or you can see that your rounds are impacting behind the target you can shift the trailing edge to the leading side of the target to increase your lead accordingly.
Please note that this is a combat shooting technique and not designed for precision shooting. It was developed by the Army to enable soldiers armed with rifles to better hit targets in an environment where more precise range, speed and lead calculations would be difficult, if not impossible to determine. This rule will assist you in getting hits on the majority of high priority combat targets at reasonable engagement distances.
The Army’s research abstract that explains why they decided to develop this rule can be found HERE.
Previous doctrine outlined four different points of aim for laterally moving personnel targets (FM 23-9). Determining which of these four lead rules to use required the soldier to estimate the range and speed of the target. Given this fact, hitting moving personnel targets within an exposure time of a few seconds is probably too complex a task for most soldiers to master during limited training. In an attempt to simplify established procedures for engaging moving targets, nine different lead rules were subjected to a trigonometric analysis to determine the theoretical location of bullet impact (Evans & Schendel, 1982). The following five variables were considered in this analysis: target speed, angle of movement, target range, size of the front sight post, and velocity of the 5.56mm Ml6AI projectile. A single lead rule was found which is appropriate for all target speeds, angles of movement, and target ranges out to 200 meters. By aligning the trailing edge of the front sight post with the center of the target, all IRETS moving targets could be hit. Given the fact that a single lead rule was desired to simplify training and maximize the number of high-priority target hits, this lead rule is taught for all moving targets in the new ARM program. Prior to engaging moving field-fire targets, soldiers are given moving target dry fire training. In addition, soldiers fire at a 25-Meter Scaled Simulated Moving Target (see Appendix H). This paper target allows soldiers to practice the lead rule with stationary targets prior to engaging moving targets. Soldiers then walk down range to inspect their targets. If rounds hit within a dotted silhouette which is offset from the solid silhouette at which one aims, the round probably would have hit the target if it had actually been moving.