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How to Aim a Mortar

The mortar has been used since the twentieth century.
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A mortar is a military weapon that has been used in nearly every war of the twentieth century. The mortar itself is a simple design consisting of three parts: the barrel, base plate and bi-pod. Although the components are simple in structure, the mortar is an extremely effective weapon. Its aiming system is different from most as it is designed to be fired at targets located on the ground that the person firing the weapon may not actually be able to see.

Set up the mortar in the direction of fire. Use level ground to best stabilize the base. Place sandbags on the base of the mortar to stabilize it. Place aiming stakes to the right and left of the mortar approximately 20 yards in front of the base. Be sure there is a distance of at least 10 yards between the two stakes.

Select a target and locate the target’s map coordinates. Determine the position of the target and the mortar on the map. Determine the azimuth of fire by finding the direction between the two points. Look up the elevation settings for that azimuth in the mortar elevation guide, which comes with all mortars.

Look through the optical scope mounted on the mortar. You should be able to see both aiming stakes. Be sure the bubbles in the scope are level with the aiming marks on the stakes. If the bubbles are not level, adjust the mortar base until the bubbles become level with the aiming marks.

Adjust the elevation knob to the appropriate position found in the mortar elevation guide. Double check your coordinates to ensure the mortar is properly aimed. Be sure you are wearing proper hearing protection. Announce to everyone in the area that you are about to fire. Drop a mortar round into the forward end of the barrel and move your hand away quickly. When the blasting cap of the round connects with the mortar's firing pin, the round will be propelled out of the barrel.

Things You'll Need:

  • Mortar
  • Mortar guide
  • Military map


  • In the United States, it is legal to own and fire black powder, muzzle-loading mortars; however, making or using ammunition that in any way explodes in the air or on impact is banned. Such use will result in a long federal prison sentence. Check local and state laws before firing a mortar.
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