Combat Effective Hand Signals

These hand signals take you from a state of survival to a state of operational readiness on the milsim battlefield. They will enable you to communicate with your team effectively and be an asset on patrol. For a multimedia presentation of all NATO hand signals, refer to the hand and arm signal article at

Individual Signals

Cover MeP1070275

This hand signal is given by tapping the back of your cover with your flat palm. It is an order to your unit to cover the action you are about to take.



 Rally Point


This is a two part hand signal. The first part is the “Rally on Me” signal and the second is pointing at the position you wish to designate as a Rally Point. Rally Points are designated by the point man according to prior instructions from the Patrol Leader. As the name infers, rally points are locations for your unit to fall back to in order to regroup if necessary.


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This signal is given by acting like you are pushing the designated party away from you. It is used to tell your unit to reverse direction and move away from your position.

Prepare for Action 

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Punch the air in the direction you intend to make contact. This is used to orient your unit to the direction they are about to attack or receive fire from.

Linear Danger AreaP1070285

This signal is given by tapping your unit patch (on your left shoulder) with your right hand. A linear danger area is a long narrow open area such as a stream or road that is open to enemy observation and fire. This hand signal usually initiates the patch to the road drill.

Unit Movement Signals

On LineP1070297

This hand signal is given by holding the arms out to either side. When on line, all members will be travelling abreast of one another, side to side.


The wedge signal is given by holding the arms down at a slight angle. When in a wedge, your unit will take the shape of a flying “V”.


Staggered File

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The staggered file hand signal is made by punching the air with both fists at the same time repeatedly. The staggered file places the unit in two files, with members staggered to either side.

Bound and Overwatch

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This hand signal is given by punching the air with alternating fists repeatedly. When using bound and overwatch, one part of a unit will move while the other watches for enemy movement.

Increase Interval

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This hand signal is made by extending the arms above the head with the backs of the hand touching. The arms are then moved down, keeping the elbows straight and the palms move to face down. This is done in order to increase the space between the members of the unit.

Decrease Interval


This signal is made by extending the arms to the sides with palms facing up. The arms are brought up until the palms meet above the head. This is done to bring the members of the unit closer together.


Designation Signals


This signal is given by holding the hand in front of the face with the thumb closest to the face.




This signal is given by flashing the peace symbol with the palm of your hand facing you.




This signal is given by forming a “T” with your flattened palms.




Patrol LeaderP1070314

This signal is given by tapping the forehead with two fingers. It is used as a request for the Patrol Leader to come to your position.



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Distance is shown by tapping your rifle with aP1070330 closed fist and showing the distance in number of hundred meters as seen above. If the distance is less than 100 meters, it is shown with the hand bent 90 degrees at the knuckle as seen at right.





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Time is shown by holding one hand up  which becomes the center of the clock. The other hand is used to show the distance that the minute handle travels during the amount of time being expressed.