The Ultimate Guide To IA Drills – SAR21 (SAF)

IA Drills SAF

Through your 2 years of National Service, you will pick up many soldiering fundamentals (SOFUN) that will carry you through your time – be it as an NSF or NSMen. If you need a quick reminder on examples of SOFUNs, look no further than the previously covered topics of IFC and Navex

However, the topic for today is entirely different!

As you can probably tell from the title, we will be taking a look at the topic of IA drills, decomposing and answering their commonly asked questions. Questions like “What are the different IA drills?” or “What are the respective commands and their complementary actions to be taken?” are more common than you think!

If these seem like the questions that you have or if you just need a quick refresher, then this is definitely the article for you.

Exercise SAREX 2014
Exercise SAREX 2014
What are IA drills?

For my friends out there who are new to army lingo, IA means “Immediate Action” and thus IA drills stand for – “Immediate Action Drills”.

In the most basic sense, IA drills refer to specific action(s) to be taken based on the type of drill to be executed. Execution of these actions is usually preceded by the echoing of specific commands. As such, the sequence of events usually goes something like this:

  • Trainer/Higher-up calls for a specific drill to be executed
  • You echo the drills specific command – each drill has its own command
  • Execute the action

An example of this is, let’s assume you want to load your weapon with a full magazine, the actions (Loading drill) that you would carry out are:

  • You would say “Loaded magazine check” then proceed to check your loaded magazine to ensure that there are rounds in it.
  • Next you would say “Weapon loaded” and proceed to load the magazine into your weapon.

So as you can see from this example, the command ALWAYS comes before the action. If it still isn’t too clear for you right now, not to worry, there are more examples just ahead! 

“IA drills are commonplace in the army, being involved in almost any scenario involving firearms – AKA your SAR21. Scenarios range from guard duty to the Technical Handling Tests (THT) to Live Firing exercises (BTP or ATP) or even outfield.”

Here are some other common examples of IA drills that you might come across:

Type of IA drillCommand to be echoedAction to be takenPurpose
Unloading“Weapon safe”Engage safety catchTo prevent accidental misfiring of the weapon
Ready Weapon“Ready weapon”Fully-cock the charging handleTo load a live round into the weapon chamber for firing upon the pull of the trigger

As such, IA drills are definitely fundamentals that you should remember due to their importance in your army life. 

But fret not, this resource will always be available to you, should you ever need it!

What are the different IA drills?

There are many different types of IA drills that you will encounter during your army life. Some of them are more general – such as your Loading and Ready Weapon drills – and some of them are more specific – such as your No Feeding or Half Feeding drills.

“Despite that, there are still certainly some overlaps between different drills so they are not entirely different things to learn, fortunately.”

The main difference between the general and specific drills is that:

  • General drills: Done when performing more ‘general’ tasksthis includes loading your weapon, readying your weapon or firing it
  • Specific drills: Done when you encounter an issue when attempting to fire your weapon – such as being unable to fire it completely or when your weapon jams and stops firing

One main tip to remember when dealing with any firearm drill is that one action ALWAYS corresponds to one echo/command. In almost no situation will you do multiple actions upon a single command. 

“So always remember – one action, one command.”

General Drills

As mentioned above, this class of drills consist of the Loading drill, Ready Weapon Drill and Firing drill. But apart from them, I would also consider the Unloading drill to be a part of this group.

The following section will list the respective drills individually with their respective commands and actions

Loading Drill

The Loading Drill is carried out when you intend to load your weapon with a filled magazine. The respective commands and actions are listed in chronological sequence:

Command to be echoed
Action to be taken
1“Loaded Magazine Check”Check the magazine
2“Weapon loaded”Install magazine into the housing

Ready Weapon Drill

The Ready Weapon drill is carried out after a filled magazine has been loaded into the weapon. Readying the weapon, i.e. fully-cocking the charging handle, loads the live rounds into the weapon chamber for firing.

“Engagement of the safety catch helps to prevent accidental misfiring before the command to fire has been given.”

Accidental misfiring is usually more commonly known as Negligent Discharge (ND) and is a punishable offence – being usually met with a 1-2 week SOL (Stoppage of Leave). As such, I’d really suggest avoiding any NDs because who doesn’t want to book out on a Friday.

The respective commands and actions are listed in chronological sequence:

Command to be echoed
Action to be taken
1“Ready”Fully-cock charging handle
2“Safe”Engage safety catch

Firing Drill

This is the odd one out from the rest as it is the only “drill” that doesn’t require you to shout any command at the top of your lungs. The only thing that you need to do for the Firing drill is to react accordingly after being given the order to fire.

The respective commands and actions are listed in chronological sequence:

Command to be echoedAction to be taken
1Disengage safety catch
2Aim and squeeze the trigger

Unloading Drill

The Unloading drill is carried out upon the conclusion of any sort of live firing, where you unload your empty magazine. At the same time, you will also check to ensure that there are no more live rounds still housed within the weapon chamber.

The respective commands and actions are listed in chronological sequence:

Command to be echoedAction to be taken
1“Weapon safe”Disengage safety catch
2“Empty magazine check”Aim and squeeze the trigger
3“Weapon check”Cock once and observe
4“Clear”Release charging handle
5“Weapon unloaded”Disengage safety catch and squeeze off
6“Safe”Engage safety catch

Specific Drills

Like mentioned above, this class of drills are done when you experience issues upon attempted firing of your weapon. There are 4 drills in total that you should remember:

Drill
No feedingWhen the weapon fails to fire completely
Half feedingWhen jammed rounds cause the weapon to cease firing
Double feedingWhen jammed rounds cause the weapon to cease firing
Empty Magazine (Combat ReloadWhen the loaded magazine is emptied from firing

Additional details which set this group of drills apart from the general drills include:

  1. There isn’t a need to shout one command for one actionyour trainers will usually just ask you to state all the appropriate steps to take to remedy the issue before allowing you to carry out the actions

All 4 drills begin with a similar sequence of actions – the “safe, tilt, check” sequence.

“This “safe, tilt, check” sequence is done before attempting to remedy any issue with your weapon to minimize the risk of NDs – ensuring the safety of all in the surrounding area.”

So when you experience any issues with your weapon, the appropriate initial steps to take before you try to fix the problem are:

What you should sayActionPurpose
1“IA, IA, IA”Immediately squat downShouting “IA” alerts those in your vicinity that you are experiencing firearm issues.
2“Safe”Engage safety catchPrevent ND
3“Tilt”Tilt rifle, ejection port faces up Ensures the ejection port is visible
4“Check”Check ejection port for roundTo identify the issue with the gun – no feeding, half feeding etc.

Based on the 4th step, you will be able to identify the firearm issue and this is further explained individually in the following section.

No feeding

When you encounter a No feeding issue, what you will observe in step 4 is that the bolt is fully closed. As such, you will know you are facing a No feeding issue when you observe that:

  1. The bolt is fully closed
  2. Weapon can be put to safe

No feeding happens when no live rounds are loaded into the SAR 21s chamber even after loading a filled magazine and readying the weapon. This usually happens when your magazine is slightly misaligned with the weapon chamber when loading it.

So if you are facing a No feeding issue, these are the appropriate steps to take:

ActionRationale
1Slap the magazine (from the bottom)To try and “knock” the magazine into proper alignment with the chamber
2Pull (Full-cock and hold the charging handle)To allow you to look at the ejection port
3Observe (Look at the ejection port)To verify that a live round has been successfully pushed into the weapon chamber
4Release (Release charging handle)To properly ready the weapon for firing
5FireResume firing

Half feeding & Double feeding

Half feeding and Double feeding are grouped together as they have similar remedies, being caused by the same issuelive rounds becoming jammed while firing

“Half feeding just means one round is stuck while double feeding means two rounds are stuck”

When you encounter a Half feeding/Double feeding issue, what you will observe in step 4 is that the bolt is half open. As such, you will know you are facing a Half feeding/Double feeding issue when you observe that:

  1. The bolt is half open
  2. Weapon cannot be put to safe –  live rounds being stuck in the chamber prevents the weapon from being switched to safe

So if you are facing a Half feeding/Double feeding issue, these are the appropriate steps to take:


Action
Rationale
1Take out the magazineTo prevent more rounds from being jammed
2Engage last round catchTo allow full access to the ejection port
3Pull the charging handle backTo be done whenever engaging the last round catch to ensure the weapon properly returns to its standard state after releasing the last round catch
4Use c-tool to clear the bullet stuck in the chamber

*Note: never ever attempt to remove the stuck rounds with your finger – prevent injuries in the event that you accidentally disengage the last round catch
To remove the jammed rounds
5ObserveTo verify that all jammed rounds have been removed
6Release last round catchTo “reset” the weapon
7Load your magazine
8Fully-cock your weapon
9Resume firing

Empty magazine (Combat Reload)

Like the name suggests the Empty magazine issue is encountered when you have emptied your magazine – AKA fired all your rounds.

“As such, it really isn’t an “issue” like the aforementioned drills and why we also term this as “Combat Reload”.”

Nonetheless, this set of drills is still always done in practice with each other.

When you encounter an Empty magazine issue, what you will observe in step 4 is that the bolt is fully open. As such, you will know you are facing an Empty magazine issue when you observe that:

  1. The bolt is fully open
  2. Weapon can be put to safe 

So if you are facing an Empty magazine issue, these are the appropriate steps to take:

ActionRationale
1Take out the empty magazineTo allow a new magazine to be loaded
2Check that the magazine is emptyTo verify that the magazine is empty
3Load a new magazineTo allow for firing to be resumed
4Fully-cock your weapon
5Resume firing

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide has been able to clear up any doubts you’ve had with your IA drills! 

They aren’t as difficult as they seem and with enough practice, I’m sure you’ll be able to master them as the rest of us have.


Untitled design

If you enjoyed this content, do follow us on Telegram!

Want to earn some money while sharing your experiences in Singapore? We’re always looking for writers and you can join our team here!

Isaac Lim

Always looking to try new things and blogging is one of them!

Recent Posts