West Michigan Volunteer Militia

Level 1 Rifleman Requirements


A Citizen's Guide to Individual Basic Readiness


This guide was developed after much discussion and field experimentation. Many, MANY, hours were spent arguing over what to consider "necessary", and to what degree of skill militia persons should aspire. This guide is for the completely uninitiated, though others will also find it useful. It is by no means all-inclusive. There will be many items left out that you may personally feel are absolutely necessary, and there may be skills left out that you may believe to be absolutely essential as well.

This guide is for beginners. We'll explain what we're doing here. Take your average American, and thrust him into a position where he must defend his way of life against terrorism, tyranny, crime, invasion, or any other threat or emergency. To what degree should he train? What kind of gear should he have? Add to these the facts that he is working a steady job, has a great deal of family commitments, and would still like to see a hockey game or a movie now and then. You will find that he has very little time to train, very little money to spend on gear, and very little energy left to pursue the causes of freedom.

That's a fairly decent picture of your average militia person today. Only the most determined dedication can overcome these obstacles.

So we have developed this guide, in the hopes that it will help smooth over the rough road to readiness. Perhaps with this minimal direction that we have set forth, a few more motivated patriots will now seek to develop the skills necessary to defend our great Republic.


We consider Level 1 the absolute minimum level of preparedness necessary to be an active line member of the West Michigan Volunteer Militia as well as vote in WMVM activities. These, when met, will be sufficient to be considered "capable of bearing arms"; the militia being defined as "all citizens capable of bearing arms". Once you have started testing for Level 1, you will have 60 days to complete it, though it can easily be achieved in a single training session. This will give everyone at least two sessions in which to try it. You can always start again if necessary.

Level 1 qualification will will be valid for 1 calendar year from the time you achieve it.

Basic Equipment:

1) Rifle. Calibers of .223/5.56, 7.62x51/.308, 7.62x39 and 7.62x54r are preferred

2) 100 rounds of ammunition for same rifle, minimum.

3) Water container, one quart minimum. Consider a metal container for winter use

4) Cleaning kit for above rifle.

5) Suitable carrying gear to transport personal equipment. LBE, LBV, Molle or ALICE

6) Individual first-aid kit.

7) Combat or hiking boots.

8) 1 Multi-cam uniform with boonie or patrol type cap. Multi-cam is the unit standard.

9) Wristwatch in operating condition.

10) Copy of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence.



1) RIFLE: There are many choices available when choosing a primary weapon. Because military rifles have been subjected to extensive testing and have been designed to withstand tough battlefield conditions, we suggest that your rifle be of a type similar to that used by some military forces at some point within the last 100 years or so. 

Given that the right to keep and bear any arms is continually coming under attack, one should give serious thought to acquiring that first weapon as soon as possible; buy a rifle while you still can.

2) AMMUNITION: Your ammunition must be for your rifle. It is by far better to buy your ammo in bulk than to buy it a box or two at a time. Perhaps you can go in together with someone that uses the same rounds as you do. This is a common occurrence in the unit. It would be great if you (or your fellow team-mates) could get into reloading, so you could save even more money. We suggest that you keep at least 1000 rounds of ammo at home, as it can become a high-value commodity overnight. Ammo can be ordered from wholesalers, and delivered directly to you.

100 rounds is an absolute minimum carried load. This ammo should be carried "hands-free" in ammo pouches or a bandoleer. Carrying a bucket of ammo will not work. If your weapon is magazine-fed, you must carry at least one magazine, and we highly suggest that you have enough magazines to carry 100 rounds in. If you do not have a magazine-fed rifle, then try to keep your rounds on stripper clips. Loading single rounds one at a time can put you at a dire tactical disadvantage. You should make every effort to ensure that your ammo is easily accessible for quick and efficient reloading. It is a good idea to bring an ammo can full of your favorite rounds to training.

Armor piercing rounds, tracers, and such: These special purpose rounds are much more expensive than regular ball ammunition. If you can afford some, armor piercing rounds would be a bonus in the event that you are confronted by armor wearing foes (like the bank robbers in Los Angeles). If you are a small unit leader, you may wish to consider tracer rounds to help direct your unit's fire.

Hollow point ammunition is not allowed in armed conflict under the Geneva Convention. It is, however, acceptable for training or hunting. Please be aware that recent policy statements made by The US Department of Defense seem to express the position that in certain instances, hollow point type ammo is acceptable. The Hague protocols seem to apply to armed conflict between regular uniformed armed forces of a nation, and not to anti-terrorist operations.

3) WATER CONTAINER: This must be a sealable, non-glass container to carry water in. It must be able to carry at least one quart of water. You must be able to carry it "hands-free", so some kind of carrying strap, belt, suspenders, or other means of transporting is necessary. An open pitcher of water will not fulfill this requirement. A military surplus or other type of outdoor type of canteen will be fine. A regular one-quart water bottle will work, if you have some way to carry it. Some people have started out with a plastic pop bottle carried in a shoulder bag, and that is acceptable. In the winter, however, it is much riskier to try to thaw frozen water in a plastic canteen than in a metal one. We have seen too many plastic canteens melt in an effort to thaw frozen water. If you can find a metal canteen to use, especially in the winter, get one. You can find metal water bottles at your local thrift store for a dollr or two.

4) WEAPON CLEANING KIT: This will vary, depending on the type of rifle that you carry, but should include a cloth of some sort, a cleaning rod or pull through cord, a bore brush, cleaning patches, a rag or two, and some kind of lubricant. The cans of spray lubricant that are available can serve as a quick fix in certain situations. You may also wish to include a tooth brush type of brush, pipe cleaners, and Q-tips, and whatever specific items required to maintain your weapon. These items are all available at the next gun show, at any local gun shop, or through "The Shotgun News", or other similar publications. It would make sense to buy a cleaning kit at the same time that you buy your rifle. Cleaning equipment is very inexpensive, and there can be NO EXCUSE for failing to have a basic cleaning kit.

As for types of lubricants, we will suggest Break Free CLP (cleaner, lubricant, protectant). It is what the military uses, it is commonly available, and relatively inexpensive. A small bottle will fit nicely in your cleaning kit. We realize that there are other, better (and more expensive), cleaning products available, but Break Free is a functional, general purpose item that will do the job. Regular military issue "Cleaning Compound, Rifle Bore" is available at gun shows, and cheap. You can buy it by the quart for $8-9. It is just as good as the commercially sold bore cleaners in stores. Pour some into a small portable squirt bottle for field use, and you will never be tempted to contaminate your supply by dipping a dirty patch in it. As you learn more, you will develop your own favorite cleaning routine, with your own favorite products. But for now, start with the basics. Please be advised that bore cleaner is NOT lubricant.

5) CARRYING GEAR: Web gear, TA-50, vest, kit, LBE (load bearing equipment), rig, set-up, whatever you call it, some kind of carrying gear is necessary. The standard US military (and, consequently, many third-world allies) carrying gear consists of a web belt, suspenders, (we recommend "H"-type suspenders instead of the "Y"-type, as the "Y" suspenders may pinch and bind some of us in the neck and shoulder region. If you can find the older "H" suspenders, they will be inexpensive. The new manufactured "H" suspenders that are available through several mail order companies are somewhat more expensive. "Y" suspenders are fairly common place.), ammo pouches (2), canteens (1 or 2), and a butt-pack. The butt pack can hold your cleaning kit and first-aid kit, or you can have a separate attachment for them.

There are many new, high-speed vests and carrying mechanisms available through any number of mail-order companies, but they are all very expensive. Some new, high-tech rigs can run close to, or even over, $300!! You would be much better off sticking with surplus military gear. If, however, you have your own unique way of carrying gear that works well for you, then stay with that.

There are many configurations of carrying gear at any militia training. Feel free to come and see, or look through the pictures in our Field Reports to see what the folks are carrying.

If you want ideas or suggestions on how to carry your stuff, please attend any militia training session and ask the people there for assistance. They will be more than willing to offer advice.

It is also important, especially with older gear, to make sure that there are no shiny metal surfaces visible. You can tape or paint over them. Also make sure that any straps are not excessively worn, and that all necessary clips are present and functional.

6) INDIVIDUAL BASIC FIRST-AID KIT: This should be considered as an absolute, bare-bones minimum first-aid kit. After much discussion, we decided on these items. You are free to add whatever personal medication or other items that you feel is necessary. Some kind of pain-killer/analgesic, anti-diarrhea medication, anti-histamine or other allergy medicine, and maybe some cough drops are possible considerations, but they are not requirements. Please be certain that your medications are completely LEGAL. The required items are:

a) BATTLE DRESSING. This is, typically, a military-style compress dressing, with attached cloth "tie-downs" used to tie the dressing around a wound. The location of the item, usually on your non-firing shoulder, or in your upper left pocket, must be known to all of your team-mates. In a pinch, a feminine sanitary napkin or even an infant diaper may be used, along with a gauze roll.

b) 32" TRIANGULAR BANDAGE This is the type of bandage that can be tied around a wound, even a large, serious one. These may also be used as a sling. Any 32" triangular bandage will be fine. In a pinch, you can even cut your own triangular bandage from a clean sheet. Keep the bandage in its package, or if you cut your own, in a baggie by itself.

c) TRIPLE ANTIBIOTIC. This is a good, general purpose ointment for minor cuts and scrapes. In a field environment, nobody can afford an infection. This ointment is available either with Lidocaine, a topical pain reliever, or without. This is available in small packets, and you should carry five or more of these small packets in your first aid kit. If you want, you may also buy a large tube to carry with you. This is an item that is very useful to have even if you have no militia inclinations whatsoever, so go pick up a tube or box the next time that you are out.

d) 5 BAND-AIDS, minimum. These should be the regular size adhesive strips. You may wish to have more, and of different sizes, but you must have at least 5 regular band-aids. You may want to consider the waterproof/ sweat proof kind. Please avoid brightly-colored children's band-aids. You might want to add a handful of butterfly bandages as well, to help close more serious cuts.

e) 1 ROLL OF GAUZE. These are available by the box at any drug store. You must have at least one in your first-aid kit, and you should keep a box or two at home. These can also be used to wrap and/or tie around a wound.

f) 1 4"X4" (or larger) GAUZE PAD. You may actually wish to obtain several of these, as they are not usually available in single packages. They must be secured to a wound in some fashion, such as tying with a bandage, or securing with surgical tape. Surgical tape is not a requirement, but it is highly suggested that you obtain at least a small roll.

g) 1 PAIR OF LATEX GLOVES. These will be needed if you ever have to work on someone who is bleeding. It is important to avoid contact with anyone else's blood or other bodily fluids. These gloves take up almost no space, weigh next to nothing, and are usually available by the box at any drug store.

h) Either one additional battle dressing, or one additional 4x4 (or larger) gauze pad.

i) TOURNIQUET, commercially manufactured or home made. Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan advise that a tourniquet is vital in many situations. Get one.

All of your first-aid gear should fit in a baggie. You can carry this in your butt-pack, or it will fit in an AR15 ammo pouch nicely. There are also some military first-aid attachments for your web gear, available at a local surplus store, or through one of the several mail order companies.

It is important that your fellow militia members know where your first-aid kit is, so inform them verbally, and use black electrical tape to mark the location of your kit with a cross. You may wish to trail a small, dark red ribbon from your kit, to further help your team-mates in finding your gear, should you become incapacitated.

Your first-aid gear is for YOUR use. It should be maintained and updated on a regular basis. Do not allow your personal medication to expire, and check any sterile packaging periodically to make sure that it hasn't ruptured.

7) COMBAT OR HIKING BOOTS: We almost didn't make this a requirement, because some of us thought that everyone would automatically meet this requirement. An argument was made to the contrary, therefore, you must wear combat or hiking boots that fit your feet.

Any boot issued regularly by the US military would be a good choice. The Army spends millions of your tax dollars testing and refining footgear for our troops. They will not issue boots that will harm its soldier's feet.

Plan to buy your boots at the end of the day, after your feet have swollen just a bit from the day's activities. Avoid steel toe boots, especially in winter. They can become quite uncomfortable.

For a closer look at what many militia people consider to be good boots, just attend any training session, and ask around.

8) COPY OF THE US CONSTITUTION AND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Neither of these grant us any rights. It is far beyond the scope of a written document to bestow (or remove) a naturally occurring right. Instead, they seek to clarify and preserve our natural, fundamental human rights, none of which are dependent upon any mere document.


A thorough understanding of how the Constitution was designed only to limit the government will lead you to better grasp the nature of some of the threats that loom over our country today. We suggest that you become quite familiar with your Constitutions. There are many who would deny its validity: they are your enemy.

This concludes the basic equipment list. We feel that these items will be relatively easy to acquire, and the total cost of "gearing up" will not be overwhelming. If you still have difficulty in finding some items, or if you need help selecting something, feel free to contact your local militia unit for assistance.

Please remember that this guide is only intended to serve as a starting point, and that there will always be some other items that you will discover to be necessary later on. We will publish guidelines for additional levels as we develop them. Your input on these further publications will be very much welcomed.


Having looked at the basic equipment, we will examine three simple abilities. We feel that, after demonstrating these abilities, you can be considered "able-bodied and capable of bearing arms".

A) COMPLETE A TWO-MILE HIKE WITH ALL BASIC EQUIPMENT WITHIN 48 MINUTES. (Persons wishing to branch off into The Scout Unit will have to complete this hike in 40 minutes or less.)You will also be required to carry any shooting aid that you intend to use in your rifle qualification.

It is important to be able to get around on foot. It is possible that, under any number of circumstances, travel by other means will be difficult or impossible. A short, two-mile hike at a slow to moderate pace is a good measure of your mobility.

Please do not be alarmed by the distance. Two miles is actually a very short walk. Most of us cover many more miles in our daily lives.

You will be given as many attempts as you need to complete this walk. If, for some reason, you do not succeed the first time, additional attempts will be allowed after a brief rest period of not less than 15 minutes. It is very possible that persons who do not make it the first time could easily make it if they merely pick up the pace a bit.

As there are few roads along which a militia hike would fail to attract unwanted attention, the hike will take place on a private road or trail.

The hike may occur in any weather or road condition.

Please do not attempt this hike if it may jeopardize your health.

B) FIELD STRIP YOUR WEAPON FOR CLEANING. Since there are many types of weapons available, this guide cannot possibly cover even a fraction of them.

There are several ways to learn how to break down your rifle. You can learn from the manual that will come with any new rifle. You can learn from instructions published in some other sources, such as certain issues of "Guns & Ammo", and the like. You can also ask someone who is already familiar with that type of firearm. Any gathering of friendly militia people is bound to be brimming over with firearms knowledge, and they will be more than willing to help you. Do not be embarrassed to ask someone for help- the only dumb question is the one that you don't ask.

You will need to break your weapon down so that the bore, bolt, and gas system (if it has one) may be properly cleaned. There will be additional items that it is possible to break down (buffer springs, extractor pins, hand guards, etc.), but for now, this simple field-stripping will suffice.


In many instances, there will be a special tool or device required to break down a certain piece or aspect of a particular rifle. If you are aware of this, it is very important that you obtain this special tool, preferably when you buy the rifle. Sometimes, however, the requirement of a special tool is a warning that you should not remove that certain part at all, so any time a tool is required, exercise extreme caution. Consult your manual, or someone who is thoroughly knowledgeable about your weapon before using any "special tools".


C) PLACE 8 OUT OF 10 SHOTS INTO A 9" TARGET AT 100 YARDS. From a field expedient position, using any item that you carried on your two-mile hike, place 8 out of 10 shots into a 9" target at 100 yards. No bench rests will be allowed, and there will be no coaching while you are firing your 10 round string. You will be required to complete this within 5 minutes. You may use a bipod, sleeping pad, rucksack, or whatever, as long as it was carried on your hike. You are not required to use anything. If time permits, you will be allowed to sight in prior to actual qualifying. (Note: Persons wishing to qualify as Marksmen must hit 10/10 within their first three attempts.)

Multiple attempts will be allowed, after everyone has had a first attempt. Following your first attempt, you are free to request a critique of your shooting. In fact, such critiques are often provided without any request at all.

Hitting a 9" target at 100 yards should be relatively easy. (At higher levels, the target will get smaller.) Almost any militia person will help you accomplish this. If you just show up at any range training, we'll be glad to help. (Some training sessions do not require firearms, so please check first.) The final word on shooting, and you will hear this repeated often, is "practice, practice, practice."

D) EXECUTE A SERIES OF THREE TO FIVE SECOND RUSHES over a distance of net less than fifty yards, using cover and concealment. Rushing from position to position using cover and concealment is a basic tactical moving skill.


This completes what you need for Level 1. Upon fulfilling these, and providing contact information of some sort, one may be considered an active line member of the West Michigan Volunteer Militia. That is, we will count you as "able-bodied and capable of bearing arms", and you are now able to vote in WMVM activities.

Persons achieving Level 1 are eligible to join a team, can vote in WMVM scheduled meetings, can be placed on the phone/e-mail tree, and will be eligible to wear WMVM unit insignia and name tapes.

We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding these simple requirements.