Gunnery Officer



Information Sheet Number: 1.19



The best plans for firing exercises are futile if not presented properly at the designated pre-fire brief. The brief must cater to junior enlisted as well as to the Commanding Officer. Everyone's attention is required in order to effectively promulgate responsibilities for execution of the exercise. This lesson discusses appropriate briefing techniques.


(a) COMNAVSURFLANT/PACINST 3502.2B Surface Force Training Manual

(b) FXP 2/3



1. The presentation of your pre-fire brief is an important means of insurance against possible failure because someone didn't understand or safety was forgotten.

2. A pre-fire brief is a safety-oriented, peacetime evolution designed to keep all personnel actively participating in a gunnery exercise informed.


1. The pre-fire brief includes the information covered in the firing plan for the gunnery exercise and should also include the following items:

a. Type of exercise, objective, when and where conducted

b. Type of target, type of ammo, quantity of ammo

c. Ships course and speed, target maneuvers, communications, bore reports, which mount(s) barrel per run, which director controls, firing runs/ tracking runs, commence/cease fire ranges, safe firing bearings

d. Safety precautions, checksight observers, misfire procedures and fire hoses

2. Additional factors which should be discussed as appropriate include such things as:

a. Past mistakes and how to avoid them

b. Identifying key players by name and summarizing their duties

c. Unique safety requirements

d. Standard commands

e. Weather

f. Damage control requirements

g. Weapons Doctrine/Battle Bill as it applies to the exercise

h. Special instructions concerning employment of the weapons

3. The pre-fire brief should be delivered by the Gunnery Officer prior to the scheduled exercise.

a. Other personnel may participate in portions of the brief as desired.

b. Example: the Communications Officer might brief on communications requirements, CIC Officer on simulated tactics, etc.

4. All ranks should be represented at the pre-fire brief, and at least the following personnel should attend:

a. All mount personnel

b. All Gun Control Console Operators (COC/WCC)

c. All safety and checksight observers

d. General quarters OOD, JOOD, and CICWO

e. Commanding Officer/Executive Officer

5. There is no standard format for the pre-fire brief but it should be very personalized and past mistakes should be discussed, including measures to insure that the same mistakes don't happen again.


1. Establish contact with the audience by introducing yourself and your topic.

2. Establish readiness to get your audience ready to listen by telling them what is going to be covered during your brief.

3. Establish "effects" by bringing out the need and value of the brief.

a. Here you are telling your audience why the material you are covering is important to them individually. This is the key. Try to make each person in the audience believe that the success of the gunnery exercise will provide some personal gain for everyone involved (i.e. pride of being the best and increased proficiency due to training).

4. Then begin your pre-fire brief, laying out your presentation in a neat, logical order, following the firing plan step-by-step.

a. This will ensure clarity and understanding.

5. When covering important points concerning the exercise, don't be afraid to be specific.

a. Remember this is a safety-oriented evolution, being held to clarify any doubts or questions of personnel concerned.

b. Additionally, even though you may not be getting questions, that doesn't mean that everyone has a clear picture of the event.

6. Make sure you use correct terminology.

a. Nothing will "blow" your brief faster than calling something by a term no one else has ever heard or mispronouncing a term everyone but you is familiar with!

7. Last but not least, know your material and do your homework!

a. In order to field questions, every aspect of the exercise must be considered.

b. Remember, you'll be expected to become an "overnight expert." People will expect to be able to ask detailed questions and get a knowledgeable, concise answer.

c. Never guess or venture an opinion if you are unsure of the answer. Instead defer the question to a knowledgeable person present at the brief or promise to find the correct answer. Answer, then follow up on that promise.


1. There are four basic skills in public speaking. With study and practice they can make the difference between an acceptable brief and an excellent pre-fire brief. They are:

a. Voice

b. Eye

c. Gestures

d. Attitude

2. Voice means that you want your voice to be:

a. Loud enough so all can hear.

b. Controlled for emphasis.

c. Lively vice monotone.

d. Delivery rate varied according to material complexity.

e. Words properly pronounced and enunciated.

3. Eye means you want to:

a. Maintain good eye contact with your audience.

b. Avoid looking directly at one person or portion of the room.

4. Gestures means you want to:

a. Use natural gestures with purpose and reason.

b. Avoid wild, flamboyant, distracting gestures.

5. Use of visual aids in the pre-fire brief

a. Using a chalkboard, transparencies, and charts can be a very effective means of reenforcing the material you are presenting.

(1) Everyone gets the same information because everyone is looking at the same picture.

(a) This helps avoid confusion and adds to safety.

(2) Visual aids make your brief more interesting and vivid and enhance understanding by simplifying and clarifying difficult points.

(a) One picture is worth a thousand words.

b. Rules for using visual aids:

(1) Keep it simple

(2) Keep it neat

(3) Label your drawings

(4) Make it big enough to be seen, including the back of the room.

(5) Use colorized slides or multi-colored markers.

(6) Be accurate

(7) Avoid misspelled words, jargon, etc.

(8) Think about how it should look.

(9) Put it together ahead of time.

(10) Center your work.

(11) Conceal until ready to use it.

(13) Use a pointer, hand, or pencil to point out details.

(14) Never block your audience's view of visual aids.

(15) Remove or cover it when done.

c. Using a chalkboard

(1) All basic rules for visual aids apply.

(2) The chalkboard is a simple, easy to use visual aid allowing you to create a picture of exercise events right before your audience's eyes.

(3) Use colored chalk if appropriate.

(4) Use arrows to indicate direction.

(5) Use simple symbols to represent own ship, towing vessel, and target rather than trying to create a photographic image.

(6) Make the drawing to scale.

(7) Remember to label your drawings.

d. Using transparencies

(1) Again, basic rules apply.

(2) Transparencies can easily be made from common shipboard materials (i.e. document protectors and grease pencils).

(3) Special pens are available at office supply stores for specific use on transparency plastic.

(4) Blocking technique can be used to selectively cover or uncover desired portions of transparencies.

(5) Overlapping transparencies which add increasingly more detail can also be very effective and useful.

(6) Using a pen while at the overhead projector can make a very good pointer.

e. Using charts

(1) Charts can be very vivid and effective means of presenting a firing diagram.

(2) A large choice of colors are available for watercolors, felt tip pens and colored pencils.