Military Rifle Qualification Standards - then and now?


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Kor
February 24, 2003, 02:01 PM
Hi, all - I'd posted a similar thread in the Competitions board, and thought I'd throw the topic out in front of a wider audience.

When I went through US Army Basic Training in 1988, the Rifle Qualification course of fire consisted of 30 rounds, fired at semi-random pop-up silhouettes at distances from 50 to 300 yds. IIRC, to qualify as a Marksman, you had to hit/knock down at least 15 targets, Sharpshooters had to hit 20-26 targets, and Experts had to hit 26-30 targets. Way back then, I knew nothing about rifle marksmanship, so I failed to qualify - but, as a tank crewman, my primary personal weapon would have been my M60A3 Main Battle Tank(with the Beretta M9 as secondary), so I was waivered through on that account. Had I known then what I know now about shooting rifles, I would have done much better.

My question is: Does anybody know what US Army/USMC rifle qualification was like in the past, i.e. WWI-era, WWII-era, Vietnam-era? What were the courses of fire like, and what scores were required to qualify to what standard(Marksman, Sharpshooter or Expert)?

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Frohickey
February 24, 2003, 02:48 PM
Hmm...

IIRC, US Army Basic Training (1990 in Fort Leonard Wood, MO), was 40 rounds total. Various pop-up silhouettes at distances from 50 to 300yards. 36 and up for Expert, not sure about Marksman and Sharpshooter, but I can probably look it up. I remember missing Expert by one. And that was because I had 2 failure to feeds out of the crappy used magazines with weak lips.


Oh, and I remember being told the order with which the targets were going to appear in, memorized the order, and proceeded to forget it when I was in the 'foxhole', stepping on top of sandbags, with my mag-pouches digging into my side, as I was scrunched to the front of the 'foxhole' which is really a concrete pipe.

kotengu
February 24, 2003, 03:07 PM
I'm curious about this, too - my grandfather qualified as expert with the '03 and then later the Garand back in WWII. No one has been able to tell me what his qualifying course of fire was.....

Art Eatman
February 24, 2003, 03:10 PM
Gotta reach back a bit, to 1954 and The Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear, Tonto.

Garands. One clip for sight-in at 100 yards. Then, the four positions, one clip each, at 100 and at 300, at least. I just don't remember if we also fired at 200 or 500 as well. We later did a "Transition Firing Course" with pop-ups at various distances to 100 or so yards. The official ammo count was probably around 40 or so rounds.

Art

goon
February 24, 2003, 06:18 PM
[B]"Hmm...

IIRC, US Army Basic Training (1990 in Fort Leonard Wood, MO), was 40 rounds total. Various pop-up silhouettes at distances from 50 to 300yards. 36 and up for Expert, not sure about Marksman and Sharpshooter, but I can probably look it up. I remember missing Expert by one. And that was because I had 2 failure to feeds out of the crappy used magazines with weak lips.


Oh, and I remember being told the order with which the targets were going to appear in, memorized the order, and proceeded to forget it when I was in the 'foxhole', stepping on top of sandbags, with my mag-pouches digging into my side, as I was scrunched to the front of the 'foxhole' which is really a concrete pipe."[B]

And don't forget about your big ugly birth control glasses fogging up, and all of the sand that manages to work its way into the sleeves of your BDU top. :D

hps1
February 24, 2003, 08:08 PM
In 1961, the course of fire was 10 rds slow fire standing @ 100, 10 rds rapid fire sitting @ 200, 10 rds. prone rapid @ 300 and 10 or 20 (can't recall, but think it was 20) slow fire @ 500 on the old 5V target. Can't remember cutoffs for classifications, however.

For the m1 carbine, course was same but IIRC we did not go beyond 300. Shot expert several times w/rifle, but only managed SS w/carbine. First try bolt lug cracked (through extractor cutout) on one RF string. No alibis allowed. Second time, had it wired until prone rapid. Garrison cap brim pushed rear sight all the way down.......5 ring size group @ 6:mad:

Regards,
hps

LostOneToo
February 24, 2003, 09:54 PM
"..I failed to qualify...so I was waivered through..."
No flame on you or your abilities but this provides another excellent example of the readiness of today's "army of one".
I was a Drill Sgt back in '75-78 and the last year the army began to "waiver" all sorts of things because they were having problems getting enough people in the army.

Giving a waiver for failing the rifle qualification merely because your primary weapon will be a tank is a piss-poor excuse. It's not the individual soldier's fault but that of the higher ups who are so short-sighted that they do not ever foresee that tank becoming disabled and the crew becoming "infantry" or the need to take the time to teach the soldier proper techniques so that he can pass rifle qualification.

I suppose the clerks/cooks/supply personnel that were over-run by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge thought they didn't need to know how to shoot either.

Again, I am not flaming the individual soldiers but the system that sends men into combat without the proper training to enable them to at least remain alive. Gives me a lot of confidence in the "army of one" and its' leaders.

Sorry if this was off topic, just got fired up when I was reminded of the army "waiver" system.

:cuss:

Sir Galahad
February 24, 2003, 11:03 PM
I went through basic at Ft. Dix, New Jersey in 1987. We had M-16A1s. The course was 40 pop-up green plastic Soviets. I qualified expert along with two other guys in my company. But no one who did not qualify got waivered through. They kept going back again and again. One guy got held over after graduation until he could qualify. He wasn't going anywhere until he did.

goon
February 24, 2003, 11:06 PM
I will second Lost one too's opinion.
The whole time that I was in, I only shot about 200 or so rounds out of the M-16. I am glad that I knew how to shoot when I got there. There was no mention of using the sling one way or the other, but I found that it still worked with the M-16 anyway. I proved it when I beat the pants off of a 1st LT that was shooting next to me. (I was just a lowly E-2, and it really burnt his *** to lose to me)
Got expert on that one.
Even got them all in with the pro-mask on, eventhough I didn't have any inserts to correct my near-sightedness.

444
February 24, 2003, 11:23 PM
I went through basic in 1981 at Ft. Bliss. The qualification was the same one mentioned numerous times with the pop up targets out to 300. I qualified Sharpshooter in basic and expert everytime after that. I honestly believe that the reason I didn't make expert in basic is because they didn't change the targets often enough. Anyway, they certainly didn't waiver anyone through. The guys that boloed rifle qualification were PTed so hard that night that two guys were seriously injured and had to be choppered out. They were doing sit ups as a group while holding a telephone pole.

Steve Smith
February 25, 2003, 12:05 AM
So in other words the miserable marksmanship I saw on that Basic Training show (Discovery Channel?) was real. Nice.

Freedom in theSkies
February 25, 2003, 01:55 AM
When the Canadian Forces were using theFN-C1 (FAL 7.62), We qualified on the 100, 200 and 300 meter range with a target similar to the old U.S. Match 5 ring target (sorry, I don't know the proper name for either).
We fired:
3 rds. sighting then,
10 rds. prone, 10rds. standing from the 100 meter firing point,
3 more rds. sighting then,
10 rds. prone, 10 rds. standing from the 200 meter firing point,
3 more sighting rds.,
Then it was 20 rds. from the 300 meter firing point.

The first two relays were timed at 30 seconds and one minute respectively, with a 3 or 5 minute limit from the 300m. point. The movement from fire point to fire point was "run down" fashion.

After the qualification, I found out that I placed second in the platoon with a 209 score. Top shot had 211.

It was kind of a soggy, yet bitter day in late January. -Ahhh....brings back memories of Cornwallis, Nova Scotia....
:uhoh:
-Wait one... I hated that place...Too much yelling and stupidity.:fire:

Anyways, I still don't know what the possible high score would have been. Anyone have an idea of what it may have been?
300 perhaps? - 5 points per round?

Frohickey
February 25, 2003, 01:27 PM
Oh, I should also say that Basic Training Rifle Qualification happens, rain or shine, torrent or desert, gale force winds or calm Sunday picnic weather.

Kor
February 25, 2003, 02:54 PM
...and I was frankly surprised that they let me get through after bolo-ing with the rifle! BTW, I also threw grenades like a girl, but they let me skate on that, as well.

However, I strongly suspect that my drill sergeants went to bat for me, because I maxed all the other MOSQT tasks, qualified Expert with pistol, and was generally a hard-working and squared-away team player. Also, I was given to understand that had I been Regular Army(I enlisted as a Reservist), I would have been kept back unless and until I DID qual with the M16. Since I was also "split-training" - Basic one summer, back to school for fall/spring semester while drilling with the Reserve unit, then back for AIT the next summer - I guess they figured that I could get remediated next year if absolutely necessary.

Even so, the rifle PMI they gave to us Reserve Component tankers-to-be WAS pretty poor, probably less than half the time spent on pistol PMI, both in the classroom and on the range. I hate to imply that my cycle was given second-class training because we were Reserve/Nat'l Guard "split-trainers" who had to get out of Ft. Knox in time to fill slots in our parent units with warm, semi-trained bodies in uniforms, but it wasn't(and isn't) easy on the drill sergeants who've got a tight schedule to keep and too much training time lost because the wet-bulb index is too high for the recruits' health.

Anyways, pistol PMI was REALLY emphasized, partly because at the time IIRC the TOE only called for one crewman(the loader) to qualify, at the parent unit, with the M16 - there just ain't room inside the tank for but ONE rifle, and the loader's the only guy who MIGHT not be so busy actually making the tank work right that he'd actually have a chance to use it. Also, we were the second cycle to train with Berettas ever at Knox, so the drill sergeants were probably taking their sweet time making sure they got everything right since the gun and its manual of arms were still pretty new to them, also.

Nevertheless, I was still glad that I didn't get washed out over my piss-poor shooting with the M16, and on balance, I think my CO's were glad to have kept me on all the same.

swampgator
February 25, 2003, 10:02 PM
Also, we were the second cycle to train with Berettas ever at Knox

They had the M-9 at Knox that early, for trainees?

I was the last cycle to qualify on all three service handguns at Ft McClellan in 1992. The 9mm, .45, and .38 revolver.

I was under the impression that the M-9 was fairly new to the MP school even then.

BTW same BRM course 40 rounds: 20 prone, 20 foxhole. Shot 38 out of 40 the first time I qualified. The two misses were from a misfeed, and handed them off the range NCO. Maintained expert rating the whole time I was in.

Adventurer_96
February 25, 2003, 10:19 PM
The course of fire on "the World Famous Starlite Range" at Parris Island (those who have shot there will remember that little catch phrase) had a maximum of 250 points IIRC in spring 1995. There were three distances, 200, 300 and 500 yards, but I can't remember the specific strings of fire. Later, when I qualified again in 1998, the Marine Corps had switched to a "hit or miss" kind of scoring system as I recall, but I don't remember the relays.

All the firing was done from a known distance, it was only later during A-Line in Basic Training that you engaged targets at unknown distances, but it was an ungraded exercise as I recall. Overall, some excellent principles of marksmanship, but a lack of practice generally makes many Marines forget the basics.

Incidentally, as an aside, I know that my M16A2 was capable of 2 MOA because at 500 yards almost all of my shots were in the 10" spotter on the B-Mod target. But, I do believe that some of those rifles were better than others, just like out in civilian world. Hope for a nice "Wednesday" rifle when it's your turn on the line.

dude
February 25, 2003, 10:39 PM
1984, Tank Hill, winter, pretty beat-up M16A1s with triangle fore-grips and three prong suppressors that jammed like clockwork

40 rounds at pop-ups, 50 to 300 meters. But our Drill Sgts never told us the order.........only that the first one would be the 50 yarder (fast Freddy).

No one was allowed to BOLO and they shot til they qualed. I qualed 39 out of 40 and never got less than 37 my whole 8 years in. (having an AR15 before going in helped) It drove the Drill SGTs absolutely crazy that I could 'feel' a malfunction when it happened and start to clear the weapon before the next target popped up!! The rest of the recruits did not realized their weapon was jammed until the next trigger pull. Once a DI actually stood just behind and right over over me during qual training and would not let me reload a live round I dumped out clearing a double feed...........he was having FUN and threatened me with several 1000 push-ups if I touched it!

I hear that they go out further than 300 meters now.

What's up with you other guys firing so few rounds at Basic?? We were just REMF trainees but we all fired 1000's of 5.56, several 100 from the M-60, a handful of 203 grenades, and a few sub LAW rockets. We also set up and fired several Claymore sims.


IMHO- the pop up qual range is a very effective way to learn tactical shooting. You have a fixed number of rounds equal to the number of targets. 4 ten round mags. As the targets come up one at a time for the first 15 rounds or so you knock them down pretty easily.........but if you miss one then you have to 'think' about squeezing off another and letting your last target live. Soon they start coming up two at a time and then it gets fun!! I've heard from several Marines who got to qual on our M16 range in Hawaii that they dug it and saw the advantages.


Alas Tank Hill is gone, replaced by the Hollywood barracks I saw on the Discovery Basic Training series. Must be nice not sleeping in 40 year old bunks, actually have some hot water and no drafty broken windows inches from your head at night!!

If you have never been through Basic or Boot, you are missing out on one of life's truly great experiences!

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