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    Pendleton Marines fire new annual rifle qualification

    Pendleton Marines fire new annual rifle qualification

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts | U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Paul Beals, an aircraft electronic countermeasures systems...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

    The Marine Corps’ new annual rifle qualification course of fire is here.

    Beginning in 2016, the Marine Corps set to work restructuring the Corps’ annual marksmanship training, improving the program to increase the proficiency of Marines. The new course of fire is designed to mimic more realistic combat conditions by focusing on increased lethality and positional shooting. Over the last five years, Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico developed, tested and improved the Marine Corps’ new course of fire with assistance from Fleet Marine Force. The ARQ is now the standard for all Marines outside of entry-level training.

    “This is a transition that we’ve been working on over the course of the last year,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Darryl Peterson, the marksmanship training division director for Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “We’ve had multiple iterations of train-the-trainer for the annual rifle qualification concept of employment and the actual course of fire itself.”

    Like marksmanship training in the past, Marines will still receive a period of instruction to re-familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of marksmanship and what to expect downrange. Each marksmanship training unit is in charge of creating a new lesson plan for their units. With the new ARQ, this will be the first time that Marines will shoot this course of fire, making grass week crucial for them to learn what it will take to earn the best possible scores. This makes it vital that MTU’s are diligent in the creation of their new lesson plans, giving Marines the best chance at success.

    “Our unit has had to make a lot of adaptations for the new course of fire,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Anthony Scott, the MTU noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “We’re doing as much as we can to better prepare the Marines, whether it's just getting familiar with the fundamentals of the drills, getting familiar with the barrel flex and how everything works or just getting used to the physical fitness that’s required to complete this course of fire.”

    During ‘Grass Week’ Marines will be shown how to properly use the newly implemented barricades, practice new positions and use dry firing techniques to prepare for the time limits given for the new drills. Each of these drills is centered around increasing the realistic shooting experience for the Marines, allowing for maximum proficiency during their ARQ.

    “The MTU’s responsibility is to train the individual Marine on the required training,” said Scott. “To prepare the Marine in any way possible for what may happen and what will happen downrange.”

    Marines head downrange for three days after grass week, unlike in the past where Marines spent five days on the range. The consolidated course saves time and increases efficiency, ensuring Marines are proficient with their rifles.

    “The greatest change that the Marine Corps has gone to, specifically with marksmanship, is the transition from the traditional 100, 200, 300, 500-yard line to a more tactically sound 5, 3, 2, 1, and then 25 to 15-meter movement,” said Peterson.

    On the first range day, Marines will zero their rifles then conduct the drills required for the ARQ. Currently, on day one, the drills are conducted backward, starting at the 25-yard line moving back to the 100, 200, 300 and then 500. The reversed distance and options of shooting positions are explicitly designed to mimic real-world combat scenarios through increased variables that would be expected in a combat environment.

    “It benefits the Marine Corps in the sense that it employs the Marines in a more tactical mindset, or develops the mindset of a tactical Marine,” said Peterson. “There's shooter preference from each of the firing positions. There's options for the Marine to take up just like in combat or engagement. They'll have the option to employ their weapon from the standing, kneeling or prone, based on shooter's preference, at each yard line instead of being told that they need to be standing, kneeling or sitting.”

    As for day two and three, Marines start at the 500-yard line and work their way down the range. On day two, Marines will be conducting their prequalification and day three will be qualification. The prequalification day is the Marines’ last chance to ensure they correctly execute the techniques and methods taught by their coaches. All final preparations must be made to the equipment to enable success on qualification day.

    On day three, the Marines shoot for their annual score and rely heavily on their training to succeed. It is anticipated that since the ARQ is new, there will be a decrease in expert scores as Marines adapt to the new shooting requirements. Using the resources available during grass week and from the coaches of their respective MTUs, Marines need not fear having to purchase the dreaded “pizza box” when it is time to shoot on qualification day.

    “I can tell you that Marines are enjoying it a lot more than the (previous system),” said Peterson. “We have had statistics that show that the majority of the populace qualify as sharpshooters, as opposed to larger numbers of experts. We have also seen a reduction in unqualified Marines. With the reduction of unqualified Marines, they are obviously taking to the course of fire itself and increasing their accuracy in employing their weapons system.”

    Adaptation has long been a tenant of the Marine Corps, and through this, the Corps can respond quickly to changing situations. Carefully adapting annual marksmanship training to be more realistic allows every Marine to be more tactically proficient regardless of military occupational specialty. Every Marine is a rifleman, and now with the new standard, Marines will continue to develop these crucial skills and remain ready for whatever challenge arises next.



    Date Taken: 10.29.2021
    Date Posted: 11.02.2021 12:36
    Story ID: 408377
    Location: CAMP PENDLETON , CA, US 

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