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US Army To Introduce New Rifle Qualification

The 82nd Airborne Division Master Gunner posted this information on their Facebook page regarding the US Army’s impending rifle qualification changes. In addition to a completely new course of fire called Table VI, standards have also changed. This is the most significant change to small arms marksmanship in decades. The Army has been building up to this, improving the rifles Soldiers use, introducing new ammunition and publishing new training manuals. Now, the challenge rests with NCOs like the Master Gunner who wrote this piece to prepare their Soldiers for this new standard. If you aren’t following the 82nd Master Gunner Facebook page, you need to.

For Training Tuesday, we will be looking at the changes in qualification standards that were briefed during the Maneuver Warfighter Conference last week, and what we can do to ready our Paratroopers for the change. The reference for this discussion is the 82nd Integrated Weapons Training Strategy LPD Slides.

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Table VI (as record fire will now be known) has undergone some significant changes. The final product is slightly different from what you see here, but only in the exposure times. The basic structure remains the same. There are four tables: prone unsupported, prone supported, kneeling supported, and standing supported. Each table has one magazine of ten rounds, with up to four targets presenting at once.

Between each table, there is some time built in for the firers to transition from position and change magazines. If you doubt whether the time is enough, reference the live video we put up last week showing Paratroopers of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment conducting dry-fire of the table smoothly. However, that time does not begin until the target’s exposure time is complete. Firers have to be on the lookout for more targets and at further distances than they engaged before.

The prone supported has five exposures of the 300-meter target. Paratroopers have to engage them if they want to qualify expert. Paratroopers will have to engage at least 3 of the 200-meter targets to qualify.

Table VI is a non-alibi course of fire. Firers will get one attempt to qualify at marksman or higher. If they have a malfunction, they must perform immediate or remedial action and reduce the malfunction. As in combat, just because your weapon is out of operation does not mean threats will not stop presenting. If they do not achieve the standard of 23 out of 40 the first time around, regardless of what they score the second time, they are ‘qualified.’ That means no badge, no promotion points, and you can try again in four months. Moreover, the standard for Marksman has increased from 23 to 28.

If you do not practice this before coming to the range, you will fail. If our current qualification is analogous to doing the Army Physical Fitness Test, then the new qualification is the Ranger Physical Fitness Test. You can not do PT and fudge your way through the APFT and still pass… You cannot do the same for the RPFT and achieve a passing score.

Units will have to conduct dry-fire before coming to the range. In the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy, units have up to six weeks before the qualification date to pencil in one hour a week to conduct dry-fire training. This is an achievable standard.

Start by leading the Paratroopers through the drills as illustrated in the video we put up last week. Use the Master Gunner Cell Dry-fire calendars for Rifle as a quick reference, and start changing up the presentation of drills. The ‘fight up’ and ‘fight down’ drills start with standing, kneeling, squatting and prone positions. Have Paratroopers practice tactical and emergency magazine changes during all the positions, not just standing. Also, have them practice Immediate Action (‘Tap-Rack-Reassess’) and Remedial Action for time during all the positions.

Once that is starting to be easy, incorporate all the positions in Chapter 6 of the TC 3-22.9. Incorporate the use of loopholes, canted shooting, and time standards. Make them challenging, and leaders need to record that information as well. If you don’t keep track of it, you don’t know how well they’ve done and improved.

These are just a few ideas on how to incorporate dry-fire preparations for qualification into your calendar. Doing this will make your Paratroopers want to actually pick up their weapon, pick up a TC and learn something. And dare I say it, it is fun. If you make it an enjoyable activity, Paratroopers will want to do it more often. There is no excuse for not doing dry-fire. It is only a priority if we make it a priority. Squad and Team leaders need to do as they have always done, and get it done.

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17 Responses to “US Army To Introduce New Rifle Qualification”

  1. Dave says:

    Thank God!

    • SSD says:

      Now, the Army has to prepare its troops to actually be marksmen. Once a year at the range isn’t going to cut it.

      • straps says:

        This.

        There are company grade officers with actual career prospects who see weapons qual as an event (as opposed a step in a process) and its safe execution as a distractor (as opposed as an opportunity to exercise a company-sized unit as a team).

      • Joe says:

        I can guarantee this will lead to an epic cluster of red unit status in the Reserves and national guard.

        Between the transgender awareness training, the 5th suicide training for the year, and whatever mandatory 16-hour Online training good idea the command thinks up, there just ain’t enough time in the weekends to work on Soldier skills like Marksmanship.

      • Dave says:

        Of course it’s incumbent on people to actually train. I see this as a step in the right direction. The next step is to have the qualification replicate distances that enemy combatants are actually being engaged from.

        • Joe says:

          Rebuild every range in the army? yeah that ain’t going to happen

          • Dave says:

            Of course it isn’t. A guy can dream though. A lot of us never thought anyone of influence in the Army would be extolling the virtues of a 5.56 zero other than the 25m either. A lot of us never thought we’d have the new rifle/carbine and pistol TCs either. I bet even less people thought we’d see a qualification that was harder that the status quo.

            I’ll keep dreaming. I’ve been surprised a lot in the last 24 months.

          • straps says:

            When you consider you’re only talking about RETS ranges (and maybe one “familiarization fire” line per site–many of which already have barricade positions for MP or allied agencies), there aren’t actually that many left. In California there are three: Cp. Roberts, Ft. Hunter Liggett and Ft. Irwin. Ranges take a lot of work to keep running, and have the staff with the capabilities to fab the new positions.

            Eliminating “Foxhole” positions simplifies things for the future. So happy to see that go.

  2. Bulldog76 says:

    Heck yeah about time

  3. LowSpeed says:

    I’m excited. It’ll be interesting to see how smoothly USAR and ARNG transition to this, especially considering the time in between ranges can be lengthy sometimes.

    • straps says:

      Lengthy? As in more than a year? Do these units also escape YTB and USR? Can I join that unit and submit 1380s for thinking military thoughts over the next 5 years?

      I was in a Reserve TDA unit that didn’t even have weapons and we drew an EST quarterly and ran qual ranges semi-annually (you know, so the E-6s could compete for promotions), using borrowed weapons (unassigned M4s, which came back with irons and optics zeroed and M9s, which came back cleaned and PMCSd) and ammo sourced from MTOE units that didn’t burn their forecast.

      The Reserves will do just fine. The main challenge will be dismantling (or simply filling) the “foxholes” and replacing them with “barricades.”

  4. xdarrows says:

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!!

  5. ArmyAmmoGuy says:

    Hmm … Majority of Army ranges can’t support the new 5.56mm round, Unit allocations will have to be increased over time meaning the Industrial Base will need to increase production requiring bigger funding

    This will be interesting to watch

  6. Mirek says:

    My only concern with this, is that lets say they get a catastrophic malfunction on a weapon and either fail or meet qualified. Then the soldier has to wait 4 months before they can try again. I used to work out of a small coastal unit where getting out to the range was essentially, “oh you’re pcs’ing soon, alright time to requal,” which means if a person fails, they are going to a new unit as some dirt bag who failed their qual. Same unit, also experiences so many weapons malfunctions, due to poor maintanence, that sometimes(depends on the cadres mood amd time constraints) soldiers have to do a quick zero check of another rifle and then immediately retake the qual. Im not saying this new qual is bad, i actually am glad their changing it, i just have concerns with the 4 month cool off period. They should do away with that, and instead have the soldier do remedial training until they can tag along with another company or unit for their quals.

  7. Attack07 says:

    Witnessed the demo for this on English Range the last afternoon of the MCoE Warfighter Conference last week. Infantry Schools SGM spoke in length about the new direction and how we’ve improved the weapons, optics, lasers, stress shooting, etc…..but little was done to improve the preparation and the qualification itself. Another sad song, the conference wasn’t marketed to units across the force, and not a battalion/brigade leader team who was there wasn’t in attendance of this demo. Not one! Challenge, no excuses leadership – develop your people, master marksmanship tasks with all small arms organic to your element so that one NCO within a Division/Group/BCT/Bn won’t have to put up a page about a subject you all should be Mastering under the Big 5-8 critical combat tasks in a named operation. Cool what SFC Miller is doing, but on the same point why does he have to do it? This and MMTC should be taught in NCOES/OES, and levels mastered over the time of a career. User tasks learned and mastered early up to SSG, then once you become a SFC you should be learning how to resource and plan, grade, and execute the training at all levels.