A Bayonet is an Efficient Weapon

The author: Aleksandr Volkov

Hello! Today we are going to discuss a bayonet fighting and the propriety of its use by the military personnel in the close combat nowadays.

It is established that the bayonet became popular since the end of XVII and up to now it is at the armoury. Before we go deep into this question, let’s turn to the history and have a good look at the process of appearance of such weapon as the bayonet.

First, the bayonet was added to the armoury in France in 1647. After this tendency was caught up by the Austrian and further by the whole Europe. In the first place the bayonet was used as means of a fighter’s self-defence. By the way this fighter was armed by the firearms which by the time being were widely spread in the army. It allowed rifle regiments hit the enemy at a distance without much effort. But still the distance of these firearms’ deadly force was rather short: 100-150 meters.

The main problem of the rifle regiments was recharging a weapon. On average even the best riflemen needed no less than 30 seconds. This time was enough for the opponent to catch up with a rifleman and kill him.

That’s why the bayonet was added to the armoury to help the riflemen in the close combat. The bayonet was also used to repel attacks of the cavalry.

At that time the bayonet was not attached to the muzzle like we do it now but inserted into the hole of the barrel. It was quite inconvenient as it made the rifle regiments less mobile. It took a long time to insert and take off the bayonet and didn’t allow the rifleman to switch between the close combat and the long-range combat according to the situation. Besides the bayonet was rather heavy and this fact also hampered manipulations with the weapon.

There is a piece of information concerning the classification of the bayonets.

According to the shape:

– needle-shaped bayonets:

  1. round,
  2. faceted: three-edged (sometimes it is called the Russian one), tetrahedral (diamond-shaped is its variant), T-shaped (with the section in the shape of the letter “T”).

–         sword bayonets:

  1. spade-bayonet,
  2. knife-bayonet – a flat blade that reminds a knife with a handle to hold it in a hand and an attachment to fix the bayonet to a weapon and a sheathe.

–         tool bayonets:

  1. spade-bayonet,
  2. ramrod-bayonet,
  3. bipod-bayonet,
  4. saw-bayonet (can be referred to special variety of the sword bayonet), etc.
According to the type of fastening:
  • detachable (removable),
  • fixed (non-removable).

In the Russian army the bayonets appeared since 1702.

Basing on all the negative and positive experience Aleksandr Suvorov came to the conclusion that the bayonet should be used as a weapon in attack as well as in defence. It means that A. Suvorov counted on the close combat and more relied on the accuracy of the bayonet than on a bullet.

As was mentioned above the arms used in the epoch of Suvorov was useless at the distance over 100-150 meters. Thus Suvorov believed that the bayonet should be used in the attack to scare and make the enemy stampede.

The course of the bayonet training in Russian army included the following points:

1) you should quickly get the weapon ready (at the command “action!”) while performing different movements (walking, run, jumping over the obstacles);

2) you should be capable to hit with the bayonet in different ways;

3) you should be able to attack the opponent’s weapon;

4) you should know how to hit with a buttstock.

This illustrates that to the bayonet fighting was paid great attention. Every movement of a soldier was carried to perfection. It doesn’t mean Suvorov preferred to throw a musket away and rush to the batter field under the hail of bullets with a bayonet in his hands.

Suvorov believed that the bayonet fighting in combination with the accurate shooting is more destructive for the enemy. Soldiers first used small arms to shoot the enemy and then switched over to the close combat to overwhelm the enemy. This tactics brought glory and success to the Russian military forces.

The closer we come to present times the more we realize how everything has changed. The necessity and need of the bayonet fighting is dramatically reducing. This is associated with the modernization of the small arms (meaning drums and ammunition), large-scale involvement of soldiers in the army and shortening of the term of service. These factors have played their part but it doesn’t mean the bayonet fighting became less effective means when dealing with the enemy.

The epoch of the Soviet Union was very militarized. There was time when the bayonet fighting was revived and the military forces paid more attention to this military hand-to-hand combat when training the soldiers. At that time the founders of the sambo and the Russian hand-to-hand combat Vasiliy Oscepkov and Viktor Spiridonov included the bayonet fighting in their system.

It is considered that the bayonet fighting is a good method of physical and psychological training. The bayonet thrusts are easy to master. They are used as a base for learning how to use other objects at hand, for example a digging tools. It is also good foundation for practicing blows with bare hands.

There are a lot of disputes concerning the necessity of the bayonet fighting in the army. Some people say that due to the modernization of the arms this type of fight is no more appropriate and required.

Other people believe that through learning the bayonet fight we establish basis for fighting the enemy in any situation. Moreover the possibility to meet the enemy in the close combat can never be excluded. If so there is no way we can forget about the bayonet fighting as it is fundamental to success in the close combat.

If the soldier can’t fight in the close combat to our regret it always results in his death.

If we look at the military systems of other countries we can see that the bayonet fighting is widely spread there. It is an integral part of the physical training of soldiers. We should admit that the army in those countries is mainly professional and they have enough time to study this material.

Probably we shouldn’t forget about our great commanders such as Suvorov who clearly proved that the ability to fight with the bayonet is the keystone to success in the war. It also helps the great number of soldiers to survive and avoid big losses in the close combat.

You are welcome to leave comments concerning this topic.

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