New Marine Corps rifle qualification

I was interested to read about the new standards being applied by the US Marine Corps to rifle qualification.  The Corps has always had the motto “Every Marine a rifleman”, and it’s good to see they still take that seriously.  Their new standards offer a useful yardstick to evaluate our own weapons skills, and perhaps improve our training accordingly (if we’re young and supple enough to do so, of course!  I’m old and creaky now.  I daresay my days for such athleticism are long past.)

As a combat veteran from a different service (and nation, and continent) I’m particularly interested to see the emphasis on scoring.  Instead of a numeric point system, the Corps is going to score hits as “destroy, neutralize, suppress or miss. Only destroys count.”  Furthermore, Marines will shoot the course wearing “full battle rattle” – all their standard combat gear – just as they would in a war zone.  This will make it more difficult to achieve high scores, and it’s entirely right that it should.

I’ve written before about the training I received in the Rhodesian “jungle walk” combat shooting system, pioneered by the Rhodesian Light Infantry.  It built on the range-oriented basic training I received in the South African Defense Force.  It was, of course, oriented towards the closer-range, faster-reaction-time bush warfare combat environment of southern Africa.  It wouldn’t work so well over longer ranges in more open terrain, where more deliberate aim is required.  Nevertheless, it saved my butt on a few occasions.  It sounds as if the Marines are going to emphasize similarly combat-oriented techniques, eliminating those suitable only to the “one-way range” of a training environment, and concentrating on what’s needed to survive the “two-way range” of real warfare.  One can only approve.



  1. If you ever get to Tucson, you could spend a lot of time at the Pima Air Museum, and south about 20 miles in Green Valley is the Titan II Missile Museum. (I spent a few days at that site over 5 years.)

  2. I'm looking forward to when they get an m40 range where the shooter advances on the target. that was the course of fire demanded by the navy for our crews after 9/11 and the Marines point blank said FU to the idea of walking people into the impact area of high explosive rounds. We were using the ranges at Pendleton and Nyland since the navy ranges tend to be just for pistols.

  3. 1) Skipped by most commenters: NO CHANGES TO BOOT CAMP Course of Fire.
    Completely and totally as before. Nothing has been eliminated there.
    IOW, marksmanship fundamentals are STILL fundamentals.

    2) Destroy, Neutralize, Suppress, and Miss corresponds to 5,4,3, and 0 scores. Dress it up any way you want, it's still a qual course. Where only 5s in the black count.

    3) In full battle rattle? About darned time.

    4) It still goes from 0-500Y. And 500-0Y. It still requires precise placement of aimed fire in a given time limit. And they're still using the RCO.

    All this is essentially just rifle games to Marines, and bad news for whoever they're aiming at.

    ("Wait…you're gonna make me shoot some of the rounds I usedta hafta shoot at 200Y and 300Y, and shoot them instead at 25Y and 15Y?!? With an RCO?? Where do I sign up, Gunny?.")

    That is all.

  4. Way back when before they had chocolate milk in the mess hall, it was 1 wk snap-in, 1 week qual in basic to up to 500 yds followed by 1wk up to 500 yard quals every yr thereafter. After basic, off to Pendleton for infantry training, which included a week of snap-shot pop-up targets with live fire. All iron sites, but not used for snap-shots. Then it was off to SE Asia. Distance vs close-in are different skill sets, probably need to be good at both. Obstacles, barrier and offside shooting had to be learned on your own. Do they cover that now?

  5. Yessir! They do have chocolate milk and they have plates and don’t even have three GI cans to scrape, soap and rinsel. Very fancy!

  6. If that many were qualifying expert, scoring obviously changed a great deal since I wore a pith TAD.

    Most of the changes, I agree with.
    I'm not sure about starting at the range your zero has to be most precise.
    I think calling your shots is an important feedback process, that greatly improves your accuracy. I hate to see that go.
    300m rapid fire w/ mag change is a great test of operating the weapon, and really drives home the fundamentals of marksmanship. Having to reset your position, stock placement, and cheek weld mid-string is a great test of consistency.

    I hope for their sakes that the body armor is much better than the flak jackets we wore.

    I know the chow hall had chocolate milk at least as far back as '95.

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