Volley fire, as a military tactic, is the practice of having a line of soldiers all fire their guns simultaneously at the enemy forces on command, usually to make up for inaccuracy, slow rate of fire, and limited range, and to create a maximum effect.
The history of volley fire dates back before guns to use by archers, at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, for instance. One example of this is the Mongol Army. Another is the Persian invasion force of King Xerxes, whose arrows were said to block the sun. In the eighteenth century, the British would use volley fire to make up for the inaccuracy and limited range (100 yards) of their musket, the Brown Bess. Armies approached one another in linear formations. British soldiers would fire volleys in the general direction of the enemy, by ranks. The command they were given was to level weapons, rather than to aim. The shooters might be formed in three ranks, with the front rank firing simultaneously, then the second rank, offset, then the third, after which the first rank was ready to fire again. Effective volley fire required practice in swiftly completing the required motions. In the American Civil War volley fire was used quite effectively, since the effective range and rate of fire were greater than in earlier centuries.
In modern times
In modern times the use of volley fire is limited, since automatic weapons can devastate massed infantry.
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