Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting (AFSAM) is a NATO-recognized shooting competition and training event. The event sees the best Soldier-shooters from eight different countries. As with all previous years, the USAR Shooting Team is a favorite to win.
SGT Atkins of the USAR (United States Army Reserve) Shooting Team shoots Standing at 200 yards during the National Rifle Association High Power Nationals at Camp Perry 2011. SGT Atkins is on target 70.
SFC Theurer and SFC Anderson pair fire at 600 yards.
The Hearst Doubles is fired as two-person teams on the President’s thirty round course of fire. That is, both shooters pair fire, or alternate, ten shots standing at 200 yards, ten shots rapid fire prone at 300, and ten shots slow fire prone at 600.
SFC Lewis of the USAR (United States Army Reserve) Shooting Team shoots Sitting Rapid at 200 yards during the National Rifle Association High Power Nationals at Camp Perry 2011. SFC Lewis is on target 89.
Web-based training is great but ALMS delivery is slow, overly complex and less effective than a simpler solution. ALMS seems to assume Soldiers are stupid and incapable of handling written instruction, thus requiring cartoons and video. It’s insulting and wasteful.
Normal conversation typically runs about 110–150 words per minute while the average reading rate is about 200-300 words per minute. Soldiers of typical intelligence can read twice as fast as recorded speech but ALMS forces use of slower communication.
The courses require a fast connection and a substantial block of time to sit through the videos and cartoons, the whole time hoping the connection isn’t dropped and ordeal restarted. Just as bad, some Army online courses and sites require Internet Explorer. I don’t run IE because it’s a lousy, non-standards compliant browser but I’ve found a number of Army sites incompatible with Firefox or Chrome. This means I can’t use some online training with a machine running an operating system besides MS Windows.
Worst of all, we’re forced to retake the same course multiple times. In practice, I open a browser and let the video/cartoons drone on with sound muted and do something else, checking to click on links periodically to get the thing over. I can do this because any tests required are usually inane and the previous “instruction” wasn’t needed to pass.
I realize the ALMS survey is a token gesture and they don’t really care what I think, but they did ask. Here’s how I would fix this:
Release the course work and instructions as files in multiple, common formats, such as PDF, ePub, Mobi, etc. Soldiers can download and read on any computer, tablet or smartphone on or offline. If video or audio is required, note it in the text with a link.
Soldiers register to take the test. Proctor software generates a quiz from several batteries of questions relating to the course material. Say a certain topic constitutes five asked questions. Those questions are randomly drawn from a battery of a dozen or more related questions. This means the test is different for every person every time it is taken and actually requires a thorough understanding of the course material.