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[H] Gen 6/7 RNGs, assorted events [W] NA Final Fantasy XIV game time cards, PayPal
So as some of you may know, I am quitting Pokemon due to my personal dissatisfaction with the series. Cold turkey. Full stop. Before I sell these games off I plan to give my collection a new home. I can take requests within reason, but this will not include full playthroughs or Ranger Manaphy unless the pay is good.
All self-RNG'd Pokemon were pulled off with Python scripts, assume emulatosave managed unless otherwise specified. Gen 6 RNGs were done with a PCalc-like IPS patch.
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- Shiny Raikou - 31/0/30/31/31/31 Timid - Zero / 000000 - Unsure of shiny type
- Shiny Regigigas - 31/31/31/31/31/31 Adamant - Kaine / 333333 - Unsure of shiny type
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The Effectiveness of Rifle Fire Across Cultures
Disclaimer: I apologize if the below is Macabre but many different discussions both within and without the culture war revolve around these questions, and I think they merit discussion. I don’t see these discussion happening around the details that seem striking to me or much awareness for how strange a-lot of the facts on the ground are.
I will ask that all culture war discussion be confined to the associated culture-war thread LINKED HERE , and the comments to this post be reserved for either technical, factual or non-Cultures War items under discussion
Part 1:The “Snipers” of Afghanistan
I’ve been reading alot of The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary lately.
The “Diary” contains the leak of most all action reports from the Afghan war from 2004-2009 with the link above also granting access to the Iraq war diary covering the same period.
The reports, despite being brief and almost certainly selective on description (the average officer viewing them as paperwork which, best case scenario, no one mentions to them again) are none the less full of hinting details of what was actually going on. For example: why are their so many friendly actions with 50+ enemy dead, but no civilian casualties? Presumably we’d expect one or two to get mixed in as insurgent are famed for mixing with the civilian population, and yet there are very few labelled 50+ enemy dead, 1-5 civilian casualties. Were officers incentivized to just roll any civilian casualties into the enemy dead?
But one detail really stood out to me, and seems really relevant to a-lot of domestic discussions. The subcategory “Sniper Ops” is divided into two groups “Friendly Action” and “Enemy Action”. The Friendly action is pretty much what you’d expect: a two man team of highly trained upstanding marines fires one shot, maybe two, and then there are one or two Enemy KIA, sometimes they simply wound the target, and sometime they merely preform an overwatch: motorcycle rides up observes an FOB, then drives away, but it follows the pattern you’d expect from the movies: lots of sitting around observing and then (mostly) one perfect shot. The enemy action section could not be more different.
The Taliban it seems are really bad shots. Of the 93 enemy sniper ops included in the Afghanistan data set 67 resulted in no Casualties at all, the insurgents orTaliban simply rode up to some range, fired 1 or 2 shots that missed, and rode away. Of the remaining 26, 6 resulted in only enemy casualties, with the remaining 20 being something of a mess of friendly wounded and enemy casualties, in only one incident is a coalition fighter, a member of the 1st Royal Anglian, killed by sniper fire, and in two incidents are Friendly host nation forces killed, only one of which looks like a traditional sniper attack (the other is a messy assault that really stretches the definition).
Though this data set only covers 2004 to 2009, and 2010 famously saw the taliban hire “Mercenary Snipers” from outside Afghanistan, and the Sangin Sniper stirred up some news, this is still striking.
Between 2004 and 2009 as few as 1 member of the coalition in Afghanistan might have been killed by sniper fire, this seems ridiculous, maybe its a categorization error in the data set, and yet when we look at the Iraq War there are 84 incidents of enemy sniper ops resulting in 1 or more coalition fatalities, though if you believe the propaganda of Iraqi Insurgents 37 of those fatalities where the result of the mythical Juba) who was the partial basis for the excellent John Cena movie The Wall).
Furthermore this seems to fit with the analysis I’ve seen that Iraqi insurgent snipers (many of whom were former members of Sadam’s Republican Guard) were vastly more effective than their Afghan counterparts many of whom seemed not to even aim, and according to at-least one (seemingly slanderous) take I’ve heard multiple times, trusted Allah to guide the bullet if he wanted it to hit. There’s also the interpretation that these untrained marksmen, afraid of Coalition Forces, stayed back as far as possible and tried not to hit, so they could say they completed the mission to their bosses back home while maximizing their distance and safety from the more numerous and vastly better trained forces they were going up against. And beyond this, despite reports many of the reports detailing “effective fire” (a military misnomer denoting fire being shot from within a weapons effective range, ie. fire that plausibly “could” hit someone (whether it “might” hit being another question)) most of the weapons used were either old turn of the 19th century to ww2 bolt action Russian Mosin Nagants and English Lee Enfeilds, weapons that despite their large calibers and effective ranges of 500+ meters were actual made to be fired as a volley by a squad, ie. not precision rifles, and relatively more difficult to use for Sniper fire than their modern large caliber equivalents.
Part 2: Why concern ourselves with sniper fire specifically?
There is a consistent discussion in relation to gun control and the potential of a civil war or insurgency in America, namely to what extent an American insurgency could ever hope to resist the combined force of the US military and law enforcement. While some responses are cringy with either poser “tacticool” right wingers posting about their planned rebellion (in many instances only to reveal their utter lack of knowledge about the equipment they own or even how to camp (hint it helps to pack food)) or Left wing commentators or even Congressmen gleefully pointing out the US government would obviously win since it can resort to nukes, or even Foreign Political Candidates suggesting predator drones give the federal government an indomitable edge over any gun-owners or insurgents.
But there is a serious discussion buried under the Pure Toxoplasma of the culture war: To what extent do the proliferation of small arms affect the balance between the central government and dissident factions? How much can the government do without provoking a backlash it can’t handle?
Note Again: please keep all “culture war” discussions in the attendant Culture War thread for this post, and reserve the below comments for non-culture war discussion
So Again why focus on sniper fire specifically?
Because sniper fire, or some equivalent ambushing at closer ranges, is pretty much the only thing an insurgency on the American continent would ever want to do with their guns (at-least for the first decade of any conflict).
The movie Black Hawk Down) was criticized on its release for its supposed jingoism and unrealistic depiction of US troop seemingly effortlessly mowing down endless hordes of Somalis, the problem is, that was pretty much a realistic depiction. The casualty figures from The Battle of Mogadishu are really telling about the disparity between trained professional military, and amateur militias. Including The Casualties) from the Pakistani and Malaysian rescue forces America and her Allies suffered 21 KIA, 82 wounded and 1 captured, whereas the Somali National Alliance suffered 200-500 killed and 500-812 wounded. And that was widely regarded as a complete US tactical screwup. Looking again at war diaries there are 23 incidents in that 5 year period in Afghanistan where the Coalition killed 40 or more enemy forces without suffering even a single wound.
The simple fact is gun fights are dominated by the principles of Fire and Movement. Two or more allied units achieve fire superiority (read: suppressing fire) and then alternate fire so one element can safely close in with an already suppressed enemy, and finish them from a superior position. Essentially the movement kills the enemy, even if the enemy executes a perfect ambush, if the allies can achieve fire superiority, then they can safely move, while the enemy can’t, until the positions have completely reversed and its the enemy forces encircled.
This requires tremendous teamwork and training, the type only a professional army can consistently instill, but once established it allows dramatic dominance over most untrained forces.
Sniper fire by contrast, through stealth and range, allows smaller and less trained forces to effectively take on larger better trained forces and survive. Sniper fire (in theory) allows a Corporal or two, unaccompanied, to take out a General surround by an entire company, and safely get away. If it is imaginable for an insurgency or rebellion to appear on American soil they would have to be using Sniper Fire, if they use guns at all. It is simply unimaginable that Amateur American’s would be willing to go on suicide missions and suffer 40+ casualties only to not even wound their enemy.
Simply put, looking at the Afghanistan data, if Sniper Fire doesn’t change anything for a hypothetical insurgency then guns in general don’t change anything, aside from maybe helping insurgents in-fight with each other.
Part 3: The Mad Men of the West
The data from Afghanistan and even Iraq suggests the proliferation of small arms changes very little. While I haven’t been able to find a breakdown of KIAs for the US and UK, the break down for the Canadian Fatalities in Afghanistan by cause is illustrative. Of the 159 Canadian Soldiers who died in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014 (the year Canadian forces withdrew) 27 were caused by “Non-Enemy Action” (Friendly Fire, Vehicle Accidents, Negligent Weapon Discharge, Suicide, ect.), of the remaining: 97 were caused by “explosives”, 22 were caused by “Direct Fire”, and 13 were caused by “Suicide attacks”. While slightly unclear ( is an Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) an explosive or direct fire? (further research leads me to believe “direct fire”)Presumably all suicide attacks were also explosive attacks?) this gives us an interesting breakdown, 22 fatalities out of 159 were caused by enemy ”direct fire”, and at least one list suggests a majority of those were RPG fire, if any of those were sniper attacks it would be just one or two, and Some lists show fewer than 5 actually dying from enemy gun fire.
But something else happened between 2002 and 2014, two of the worst crimes in Canadian history took place in that timespan, the Mayerthorpe Tragedy and the Moncton Shooting which killed 4 RCMP officers and 3 RCMP officers respectively. Let me repeat Two armed men, each acting alone, on two separate days may have gunned down more armed representatives of the Canadian Federal Government, than the entire Afghan insurgency may have managed to shoot dead in more than a decade war.
These were not isolated incidents. The 2016 Dallas Sniper Attack killed 5 police officers, while the Baton Rouge Shooting ten days later killed 3 police officers, The 2015 Chattanooga Shooting killed 4 marines and 1 navy Sailor, and the 2014 Killings of NYPD officers killed 2 police officers, and that isn’t getting into the veritable abattoir of plain old mass shootings and attacks not targeted at police, which none-the-less ended in police or military dead or injured. If your interested you can look at the full list of all terrorist or terrorist adjacent attacks in the US: Here.
Simply put even more shocking than the ineffectiveness of the veteran Afghan Insurgency’s attacks with gunfire, is the terrifying effectiveness amateur and deranged North Americans seem to muster consistently against both the public and the police forces who have spent decades training and preparing for such events.
This demands explanation.
1st possible Explanation: Coalition forces played it very safe.
They stayed inside the wire, and only ventured out armoured, armed and in force. Whereas police have to intermix with the public in ways that make them vulnerable.
Problem: While this may explain some shooters getting the drop on police, it doesn’t explain a-lot more, both the Baton Rouge and Dallas shootings occurred during protests when police were already on alert and in most cases were responding to what they knew was either an armed man or an active shooter. Furthermore members of swat teams regularly get wounded or killed in action, even though they receive much the same if not better training and gear than most soldiers.
2nd possible explanation: The Afghan Insurgents were operating with uniquely bad training and equipment.
This has already been viewed in the equipment the Afghan insurgents were operating with, often old world war era bolt actions and old and poorly maintained Kalashnikovs. But beyond this the average Afghan Insurgent might very well be illiterate and, even if they can read in their native language, would probably not have access to the educational resources most english speakers take for granted. An American amateur can teach themselves marksmanship with youtube and a few thousand rounds of ammo, but an Afghan insurgent wouldn’t be able to access that media and probably wouldn’t have the ammo budget.
Problem: Afghan insurgencies are able to successfully manage bomb construction, emplacement and detonation, a task considerably more dangerous and knowledge intensive than learning marksmanship. This may be explained by a different distribution of knowledge: the insurgents only need one bomb maker in the mountains to supply an entire campaigns worth of bombs but marksmanship has to be taught to everybody on the front, but still you’d think this would be something they could overcome.
Part 4: Explanation 3: The Psychological Explanation
The question of how to get people shoot each-other more effectively and lethally is one thats been given a shocking amount of attention.
In his book “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society”, retired lieutenant colonel Dave Grossman takes us through the history of the US military’s struggles to get soldiers to shoot effectively in combat.
Grossman goes through S. L. A. Marshall’s Ratio of Fire data from WWII. Marshall claimed from his interviews with combatants immediately after firefights that only 15-25% of men in combat would fire their weapons, blaming the other 75%’s failure to fire on an “...inner unrealized resistance towards killing their fellow man”. The military took this theory to heart and redesigned much of their training around attempting to increase that willingness to fire. I’ve seen it claimed that realistically human shaped targets were introduced around this time and a focus on combat simulation was added as part of this process with firing blank rounds in simulated combat and even sim-munitions (chalky paintball like rounds that are fired by real gun powder out of real rifles at the real members of your rival training team) entering the the training regimen and still in use today.
The result was dramatic by Korea some 55% of soldiers were supposedly firing and by by the Falklands that number had reached 95%.
Grossman has built an entire philosophy and Psychological speciality around this psychological quirk and Both On Killing and his followup On Combat are mandatory reading for most military and law enforcement officers. Beyond this Grossman and his theory of the unnaturalness of killing and the military’s conditioning of soldiers to overcome their natural instinct has become a core part of how the military and law enforcement deals with, and prepares their soldiers to deal with, PTSD., with Grossman’s philosophy of “Killology” and its destinction between “sheep” (normal non violent people) “wolves” (natural or unnatural psychopaths who perpetuate violence) and “sheepdogs” (those who take on aspects of the wolf to fight the wolves) taking a hallowed place, to this day, in the imaginations of law enforcement and military professionals.
Beyond this Grossman has Argued that violent pop-culture and video games in particular replicate military conditioning and psychologically train kids to kill.
There was only one problem:
it was complete bullshit.
In his review of Grossman’s work * KILLING FOR THEIR COUNTRY: A NEW LOOK AT “KILLOLOGY”* Robert Engen revisited SLA Marshall’s research and made 2 discoveries.
First SLA Marshall kept pretty much zero record of his interviews. As far as we know he made everything up, and there is certainly not the extraordinary evidence required to justify the extraordinary claim that 75% of infantrymen failed to fire in combat.
Second, Engen actual found questionnaires from the Canadian Military filled out by WW2 infantry officers about about their troops performance in combat:
The issue of Marshall’s ratio of fire was one that I have always found to be very interesting, and when I decided to pursue graduate studies in history, I began researching the subject to see what corroborating evidence might exist in the primary source documentation. In mid-2007, I began examining a series of battle experience questionnaires filled out by Canadian infantry officers during the Second World War, addressing as they did a wide array of tactical questions, and giving the soldiers the opportunity to provide feedback and personal comments with respect to combat. Several hundred questionnaires were filled out by Canadians from rifle companies in 1944 and 1945 shortly after they had returned from combat, giving them the same immediacy attributed to Marshall’s group interviews. Given the similar timeframe to Marshall, as well as the similar content, I believe they are at least as credible a source as Men Against Fire, and likely more so, since the original questionnaires can still be found and verified at the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa. These battle experience questionnaires are quite candid, and they explore the tactical realities facing Allied soldiers in the Second World War, both in the Mediterranean theatre and in northwest Europe. I perused over 150 of the infantry surveys stored at LAC over the course of several months, compiling statistics from the formal survey questions and transcribing all the informal personal comments that had been attached. The evidence I collected became the basis for my Master’s thesis, which, as this article goes to press, is being revised as a manuscript.This pretty much jives with my own expectations and beyond this Engen does a very good job of taking apart Grossman’s unscientific and faulty views of human nature and the evolution of higher mamimal. Contrary to Grossman: Cats, Canines, and Primates rape and murder each other all the time and our closest relatives, chimps, even commit genocide against their rival tribes in a way that pretty much accords with anything readers of the Old testament or ancient history will recognize. The idea that human nature somehow precludes murderous violence is beyond fantastical, indeed even fantasy writers struggle to depict a human that is not innately capable of violence
There is a wealth of varied information contained in these questionnaires, but what they can tell us about Marshall’s ratio of fire is pivotal. Not a single one of the questionnaires – filled out by infantry officers who fought at close quarters and commanded rifle companies, platoons, and sections in combat – mentions anything about soldiers not firing their weapons. Indeed, the exact opposite appeared to be the major problem – that is, Canadian troops firing too much, wasting ammunition, and giving away their positions.42 Most officers, however, were generally satisfied with the rate of small-arms fire, and they regarded it as being very effective in battle, particularly for defeating the inevitable German counterattacks that followed every offensive action.43 A failure on the part of some of their troops to actively participate in battle was only highlighted by a few respondents during discussions of combat fatigue and ‘green’ replacement soldiers, and even those cases constituted a small minority. If over 75 percent of the riflemen under their command would not fight, as Marshall and Grossman claim, then the officers filling out the questionnaires would have noticed. Given their candid responses and genuine desire to help the Canadian Army train and fight better – the stated purpose of the questionnaires was to provide feedback with respect to combat training and experience while the war was still going on – it is extremely implausible that they would have overlooked, concealed, or covered up such alarmingly relevant information.
The questionnaires demonstrate that infantry combat is too complex, fluid, and terrifying an experience to be reduced to simple numbers. Today’s hero could easily be tomorrow’s coward (a point Marshall tried to make), and soldiers could not easily be reduced to the labels of killenon-killer, or shootenon-shooter.
While eventually I do want to do a full takedown of Grossman, there’s just to much to deal with. Read the Engen piece and know thats not half of whats wrong with Grossman.
But then what causes the difference between the taliban and western insurgency attacks? Well i have a theory.
part 5 (Final): My Theory
Now I’ve never been in combat, but I’ve read a fair bit, gone paint-balling, and played alot of MilSim (ARMA) video games. So I’m pretty much a Navy Seal ;b
And if I’ve concluded anything from my experience its that gunfights are really Counter Intuitive.
For the vast majority of human history the range of engagement had been spear distance maybe stretching out to throwing or arrow distance if your a specialist, and if you watch a-lot of hollywood movies you’d think this is the range fights still happen at. Watch an 80s action movie and that ranges fights happen at are not different from the ranges depicted in robin hood movies or even the more chaotic sword fights in movies, which often become painfully clear the second Arnold or Rambo runs out of rounds and starts throwing their Knives. Take a look at This Fight in Commando and notice how Arnold doesn’t even have to feign aiming, his targets are so close, with even the longest shot he takes maxing out at maybe 40-50 meters (a good range for a thrown weapon like a javelin) and even though Hollywood has supposedly embraced realism since the 80s this is still the range at which fights happen in movies with even the supposedly realistic fights in John Wick happening at ranges where a knife often proves the most effective weapon. Even movies about long range snipers such as Enemy at the Gates often have panoramic shoots which reveal the sniping is often happening at under 100 meters.
Now this makes sense for hollywood, they need the shooter and the target to be clearly legible to the viewer and if the two actually were several hundred meters apart they simply wouldn’t be able to convey that information with pretty much any tricks of cinematography, but its really telling that the trick of shrinking the ranges down to throwing distance works, with audiences seemingly experiencing no cognitive dissonance when watching a gritty war movie were the battle-hardened elite soldiers seemingly can’t shoot more than 80 meters.
That engagements at 5 meters feels intuitively right to most audiences, i think, speaks to the fact that our natural instincts are still tuned for melee combat with the occasional throwing of stuff and why most modern fighting happening at modern ranges feels so demoralizing and horrifying even in theory (Peter Pan and the Lost Boys sword fighting with pirates fill us with whimsy, whereas the idea of them sighting in mortar fire fills us with disillusioned ennui).
If you have never been paint-balling, I highly recommend it. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere there is almost certainly a location near you where you can drop in and for 20ish dollars get a big lesson in humility. While relatively quiet and peaceful compared to even a day at the range with a .22. Paint-balling (assuming you haven’t ruined the surprise by researching it to death) does seem to give an approximation of just why modern battle is widely considered a confusing horror (bonus points if you select a dark indoor location).
Simply put: you can’t see shit. Enemy rounds land near you and you take cover behind something, and now you have your mask (probably fogging from your panicked breathing (or your ballistic eyewear)), your cover, maybe 50-100meters of dense terrain and flying balls, and your opponents cover between your eyeballs and any information that might possibly be useful. Beyond this you are rightfully terrified to poke your head out and get a better look, and Oh god are they coming round your flank!?
As you can imagine this is incredibly demoralizing and disempowering and yet you have a magical empowerment device right there in your hands.... so of course you start firing wildly and pretty much blindly. You hose down a bunch of rounds and maybe even get the guys down range to duck down a little as you shout some (hopefully mild) profanity back at the twerps who were just cursing you out.
Now this is worse than useless tactically: your wasting scarce ammunition (an even worse offence when your carrying heavy ammunition instead of light plastic balls), you’ve given away your position (which is, again, vastly worse when your rounds explode loudly and let everyone within several kilometres know exactly where you are, and can visually verify it from your muzzle flash), and you’ve wasted time on a dominance display when you could have been moving and actually contributing to the fight.
And yet we see the exact same behaviour all the time in footage from conflicts around the world whether it be the various militias in Afghanistan or Iraq, or panicked conflicts in Vietnam or indeed the momentary breakdowns of discipline described by those Canadian Infantry Officers.
What you want to do, and what you eventually learn in subsequent rounds of paintball or whatever game your playing, is to note what you’ve seen, visualize the space, and then move under cover or covering fire to get to another position where you can then see more, process that info, and eventually close in on where you’ve narrowed down the enemy to be. It takes alot of teamwork to maintain that cover, a fair amount of metal work to narrow down where your opponent is and get the drop on them instead of getting dropped on, and a-lot of mental discipline to continue being small, and quiet, and moving.
Simply put there is a reason paintball and comparable training has been used by militaries everywhere, and why video games are increasingly used by militaries for training (Often with amusing results).
Grossman blamed the rise of mass shootings on Video Games, saying that they psychologically trains kids to kill, but while this is almost certainly wrong, mass killers and serial killers have been with us since the 30s and before (with famous serial killers and killers from the 70s-90s and travelling spree killers and robbers before that), but the phenomena of the modern effective North America gunman needs explanation and I think the spread of Video Games, gun culture and the associated knowledge does explain a great deal.
Now, this isn’t an argument against Gun Culture and video games, unlike the psychological conditioning Grossman envisions, knowledge is neutral. Indeed to the extent you think a gun culture should check the power of the state you might consider this a indicator that it does.But it points to something that should be concerning for us.
Our experience in Afghanistan or even Iraq is not representative of how we should expect small arms fights to play out elsewhere. Just as Iraq was vastly different from Afghanistan due to the number of former Iraqi army fighters who could employ sniper tactics, so should we expect any insurgency or combat in Europe or North America to employ vastly different and effective tactics.
It has been pretty much forgotten that America had its own spree of sniper attacks in the US in the mid 2000s with the “DC sniper” being only the most famous. And just as a cube van driving around with a shooter in the back would be entirely impossible in Afghanistan, so would it be entirely unlikely for any unrest in America to resemble our experience in the middle-east. We’re flying far more blind than we can imagine.