Rifle range KD course, field fire changed
MCB Quantico
Story by Cpl. Sara A. Carter

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va (Sept. 1, 2005) -- No matter what a Marine’s military occupational specialty, all Marines are riflemen first. At a moment’s notice, they must be able to pick up a rifle and effectively engage their target.

Starting Oct. 1, Marines will be required to pass a new rifle of qualification course, one intended to be more realistic to combat situations Marines are faced with in today’s modern conflicts.

Marines will see two changes upon beginning their rifle qualification. First the new scoring system will be the same as the current entry-level course of fire; and second, field fire will now affect a Marines’ qualification score.

The most significant change for Marines will be the field fire portion of the course, which will be called “table two”. Marines will be required to pass table two to qualify on the rifle range.

“Table two is pass or fail,” said Capt. Daniel Griffiths, assistant marksmanship coordinator and officer in charge of the marksmanship program management section. “If a Marine passes, it has no impact on their table one score. If a Marine fails table two, he or she will have to remediate it and then will have to shoot to pass, but the highest they can get on table one is a 190.”

Table one is the known-distance course of fire.

For instance, if a Marine shoots a 225 on table one then goes to table two and fails, they will have to remediate, then shoot again. If time permits they will shoot again the same day, but the highest score they will get on table one is 190, said Griffiths.

If Marines do not pass the second time, they will go back to their unit as “unqualified” and must come back with another detail and complete all of table two again. However, they will not have to repeat the known-distance course of fire.

The current field fire course is scored, but does not affect Marines’ known-distance course of fire scores.

During table two, Marines will receive 80 rounds. They will shoot from the 25- and 50-yard lines with a flack jacket and Kevlar. Marines must hit 75 percent of their rounds at 25 yards and 50 percent at 50 yards to qualify.

“A block of preliminary training for table two will be done in about three hours on Thursday morning, and then we will go into table two,” said Griffiths. “Thursday will be practical applications, going through drills for practice, and Friday will be firing for qualification.”

The training was changed to better prepare Marines for firing in combat situations.
“It puts more focus on combat shooting,” said Griffiths.

There are many ways changing field fire will benefit Marines and the Marine Corps.

“I think it is going to provide a better training continuum for marksmanship and it’s going to get Marines beyond fundamental shooting,” said Griffiths. “This is going to bring Marines beyond just shooting at targets that are standing still at a known distance.”

Sgt. Corey Justice, platoon sergeant of the marksmanship training unit at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, agrees.

“These are skills (Marines) are going to need in combat,” he said.

Table two will be implemented at the recruit depots, but the new training will not affect recruits’ scores.

The known-distance course of fire will also change, but in a way that should be easy for Marines to adapt to.

“We are going back to the entry-level rifle course of fire that recruits and lieutenants shoot,” said Griffiths.

The current known-distance course of fire is based on a 65-point system. A minimum of 25 rounds must hit the black portion of the target for a Marine to qualify as a marksman. If Marines fail to put 25 rounds on target, they are considered unqualified and must re-shoot the course of fire.

The new course of fire, which will be known as table one, gives Marines 250 possible points.

They must accumulate 190 points to qualify at the lowest level, marksman.

According to Griffiths, firing positions for the new course of fire will be the same as the old. Marines will still shoot from the 200-, 300- and 500-yard lines. Marines will also continue to shoot a string of slow fire on all three yard lines, and a string of rapid fire on the 200- and 300-yard lines. The number of rounds the Marines receive will also remain the same.

The major difference between the old and new course of fire is the scoring system. Marines will still fire 50 rounds, but the hits will be counted differently.

With the current scoring system, Marines receive one point each time they hit the black portion of the target, except during the 200-yard-line slow fire, in which Marines who hit the center of the target receive two points.

With the new course of fire, targets will be marked with lines showing different areas of the target, each with a different point value. Marines will get at least two points for every shot that hits the target. The location of the shot on the target will determine whether they get two, three, four or five points for the shot.

Currently, Marines receive their preparatory classes Wednesday through Friday and start firing on Monday. Marines also have the option of qualifying as early as Tuesday, or they can wait until qualification day, which is Thursday. Marines who qualify on the known-distance course of fire complete the field fire course Friday.

With the new system, Marines will no longer be able to qualify early, there will be no prequalification day, and Marines will qualify Wednesday vice Thursday.

Another change Marines will see is the use of a three-point sling.

“It is a different configuration,” said Griffiths. “It supports the weapon differently. Over the course of time, three-point slings will become standard issue. We are integrating those.”

Although the slings are different, Griffiths said the purpose for which Marines use their slings while executing different positions will remain the same.

Griffiths believes this is a huge change for the Marine Corps.

“Marines are used to doing things one way, the way we’ve always done it,” he said. “Change is difficult no matter where it is.”

There are many reasons for the changes.

“Take a look around right now,” said Griffiths. “Marines are all over the world right now. This training is more relevant to the modern conflicts and wars we are in right now. It’s important, it’s more realistic.”

“This basically came out of the marksmanship symposium that took place in April of this year,” said Griffiths. “We brought representatives from all over the Marine Corps and represented all elements of the MAGTF.”

According to Griffiths, mobile training teams will be sent out this week to four locations around the Marine Corps to train range personnel.

For those Marines who are worried about the change, Griffiths has these words of encouragement:

“It’s not designed to fail Marines, it’s designed for success,” he said. “And more importantly, it is designed to teach.”

Griffiths hopes that when Marines leave the rifle range they will be better trained and more well-rounded marksmen.

“This is what we train for,” he said. “We train to go to combat, and in combat targets don’t present themselves the same way every time. The need for that training was identified, and that’s what we are doing.”