Message means less time on range, new specialty

4 Jun 2003 | Cpl. Ryan S. Scranton

Marines conducting marksmanship training can expect new coaches and less time on the rifle range starting in October.

The Marine Corps Marksmanship Summit in Quantico, Va., Oct. 29-Nov. 1 spurred Marine Administrative Message 229/03, which outlines restructuring the annual rifle program and adding a new occupational specialty.

Weapons Training Battalion, responsible for administering annual rifle and pistol qualification, will be making adjustments to the known-distance, annual rifle requalification program by removing the field-fire phase of training in October. The removal of the field-fire phase, which involves firing with the gas mask on and engaging multiple and moving targets, will limit the amount of time Marines spend on the range to four training days.

According to the new administrative message unit commanders will be responsible for their Marines' field-fire qualification. The message stated the Training and Education Command's intention was to establish field-fire training as a separate training evolution, but it is otherwise unaltered.

Weapons Training Battalion will continue using the existing standards of the known-distance re-qualification phase, in which shooters conduct slow- and rapid-fire relays from the standing, kneeling, sitting and prone positions at distances of 200 to 500 yards, said Lt. Col. Lonnie Harrelson, commanding officer, Weapons Training Battalion. "Annual re-qualification will remain the same. You will still be shooting Monday through Thursday, with qualification on Thursday."

Unit commanders will be able to use nearby Stone Bay's ranges for the field-fire portion pending availability, but they will also have the option to conduct the training on other ranges.

"Units are welcome and encouraged to use the facilities, such as the known-distance ranges, barracks and gym for training their Marines at Stone Bay," said Harrelson.

The message also directs establishing a basic known-distance coach as Military Occupational Specialty 8529 and standardizes the basic known-distance coach training as a five-day course. It makes the course a prerequisite to other existing marksmanship occupational specialties.

Curriculum for training coaches has not been finalized; however, the Stone Bay Rifle Range will most likely be the location for the training, said Harrelson.

Overall the changes made to Marine Corps marksmanship will increase the effectiveness of marksmanship training, make it more executable, and improve marksmanship coaching, according to the message.