SPORTS – What To Do In A Jam

One of the common tasks for Soldiers taught in Basic Training’s Basic Rifle Marksmanship is how to clear a malfunction on the M16-series of rifles. Although the task was laid out in 1968’s comicbook-style DA PAM 750-30, it was still a lot of steps.


Acronyms and the military go together like peas and carrots. Doubly so if the acronym sounds like a cool word, so someone dreamed up SPORTS for Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Squeeze. The Squeeze for “Squeeze” the trigger but was later changed to Shoot to include all of the methods of trigger control.

Broken down, here are the steps:
a. Slap upward on the magazine to make sure it is properly seated.
b. Pull the charging handle all the way back.
c. Observe the ejection of the case or cartridge. Look into the chamber and check for obstructions.
d. Release the charging handle to feed a new round in the chamber. Do not ride the charging handle.
e. Tap the forward assist.
f. Shoot. If the rifle still does not fire, inspect it to determine the cause of the stoppage or malfunction and take appropriate remedial action.

Out in the civilian world you’ll hear the much more simplified Tap, Rack, Bang which was originally intended for clearing a malfunction on pistols but works as a simplified process for rifles as well. 

Once again, broken down:
a. Tap the bottom of the magazine to ensure it is properly seated.
b. Rack the slide, or charging handle to the rear to attempt to feed a new round into the chamber.
c. Bang, as in shoot the weapon.

Repeat as needed until the gun either works or you have to transition to another means to reduce the threat.  

How many of you were taught SPORTS while learning to fire the M16 or one of its derivatives?

31 Responses to “SPORTS – What To Do In A Jam”

  1. Kaos-1 says:

    S.P.O.R.T.S. and a S.A.L.U.T.E. report , the only thing worth a damn you’ll learn in basic , everything else is pretty much shit you learned in the Boy Scouts .

    • Dan says:

      Hahaha, definitely true. Trips to Philmont, National Jamborees, and all those trips outdoors taught me most of the field craft and respect for the uniforms I wear today.

  2. Lt M says:

    On the L85 platform I was taught to observe, tap, charge, forward assist, shoot. I’ve only ever had stoppages when firing blanks or towards the end of a long patrol (I’m a stickler for keeping everything clean and Afghan sand gets everywhere).

    • Jim says:

      Is that the same as…tilt weapon to left, check position of cocking handle, then carry out the IA and deal with the results?

      • Lt M says:

        If I get a stoppage I’ll observe the charging handle without holding to the rear, then give a magazine a tap to ensure it’s fully seated, charge the rifle, aim and fire. If I still encounter a stoppage I’ll do a full IA, holding to the rear and performing a quick 3 point check, then proceeding accordingly.
        The only stoppages I encountered in combat were failures to feed, and they were infrequent, which I attribute to the new Magpul mags and a well-maintained rifle.

        • Jim says:

          From your language…charging handle, I guess you’re not a Brit …

          • Lt M says:

            Charging handle, cocking handle, one and the same. Spent a fair bit of time around American and ANA troops and may have picked up some bad habits, but that’s not the worst of them.

            • Jim says:

              Ok, on another point, “observe, tap, charge, forward assist” definitely not the drill…tap and forward assist are the same thing which BTW is should be taught as “tap forward”

              You seem to be checking position of the cocking handle, tapping forward(the IA) then cocking the weapon and tapping forward again without seeing if the IA clears the problem…

              • Lt M says:

                The initial tap is on the magazine to ensure it’s seated, not a tap forward. I then cock the weapon and tap forward.
                If that doesn’t work I’ll revert to a full IA.
                This is what I learnt to do when in contact, I’m not saying it’s the correct procedure but it works for me.

                • Jim says:

                  So not what you were taught…you’d do something else first and if that didn’t work carry out the IA and stoppage drills that you’d been taught?

  3. SloppyJoe says:

    Jam goes on toast

  4. Philip says:

    Great post!

    Can you imagine the political correctness shitstorm and resulting PA nightmare if we used caricatures of our enemies in a manual like that today?

  5. Asinine Name says:

    ‘Tilt, cock, lock, look’

  6. Ben says:

    They have to redo this with female grunts depicted. Gun won’t fire? Rely on the MAN(the one actually contributing to the fight)next to you for assistance/protection.

    • joe says:

      My wife may not be able to provide more than suppressive fire past 100 meters with irons, but SPORTS is as engrained in her mind as any other Army veteran, self included.

  7. Invictus says:

    Tap Rack Bang for immediate action, SPORTS for remedial action if TRB didn’t work or didn’t apply… that’s how I learned it.

  8. seans says:

    It would be even better if we had a comic that taught how to do proper end user maintenance. Label your mags. Throw out the bad ones. Keep a accurate round count. Replace wearable parts before they go bad. Understand how much lube is required in your environment. Know actually how your weapon functions. But it would probably take into time needed to police call parking lots for cigarette butts and sexual assault prevention briefs.

    • kris says:

      Replace parts before they are broken? No way you grew up in the same Army I did, hell most of the time you can’t get things replaced after they are broken.

  9. Mr. Duke says:

    We had to add an element… sport”A”s. Slap, pull, observe, tap, AIM!, squeeze. There were some dumb asses at D Co. that would just squeeze of a round straight into the air, so we added “aim” to the whole thing…

    • SSD says:

      That’s why they changed the S to Shoot

      • Mr. Duke says:

        Semantics really. I mean some Joes won’t do anything until they are told to, and even then they have to be told exactly how to do it. Shoot, squeeze, same same.

    • SloppyJoe says:

      Isn’t it funny how we train soldiers like this? You have to actually make or modify an acronym so they don’t just “shoot into the air”. Says a lot about our training method.

      A team leader tells a rifleman where to lay down, what his left and right limits are, gold/black azimuths, etc.

      Yet he deploys and is now expected to think for himself in an extremely complex environment.

  10. SFSSNCO says:

    sad that we live in a world where “Slap Pull Observe Release Tap Squeeze” is to complicated… Soon it’ll be “throw and cry” because tap rack bang is too many steps.

    • Invictus says:

      I believe “throw and cry” is the accepted standard operating procedure for the M67.

  11. AS says:

    Transition to pistol

  12. RJ says:

    Throw the weapon and

    Forgot who I knew made that up but it’s hilarious and applies to half our Army. Poor BCT PVT raises hand on firing line and points to rifle “DS, it doesn’t work”

  13. RJ says:

    Also FWIW, seen some talented shooters go all the way through SPORTS as quickly as most good folks “tap, rack, bang”. It’s not the worst practice out there.