USARCMP Events: Camp Grayling

Soldiers in the US Army are perpetual novices with their weapons. For most personnel, small arms training stagnates upon completion of Initial Entry Training. As the name implies, the training levels there are basic. This makes sense for new recruits and the tested skill levels there are purposely set so new novices can pass them. The problem is these same courses and standards continue to be used for Soldiers throughout their career. Consider that qualification standards are the same to graduate basic as they are for a twenty year veteran. Just as repeating the same elementary school arithmetic test can never advance a student to Calculus, repeating the same basic training-level qualification can never advance a Soldier’s skill beyond basic training levels.

The United States Army Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program offers classes and courses that take Soldiers beyond basic. Staffed by shooter-instructors competing in national and international shooting events, USARCMP hosts training and Excellence In Competition programs for Army Reservists around the United States. USARCMP shooter-instructors held such an event at Camp Grayling, Michigan.

For SPC Eldon Lucas from Massillon, Ohio and assigned to the 256th CASH out of Twinsburg, Ohio, this was his first competitive event. “I don’t normally shoot at 300 meters based on how I was taught at basic training, but I hit ten for ten on our first day of training on the KD (Known Distance) range. The next day we were shooting at – and hitting – targets at 400. This is a good experience and very useful. I received more helpful instruction on the first day than I have in the last few years going to the range.”
SPC Eldon Lucas 1

SPC Melissa Lister from Newark, Ohio and assigned to 2nd POG (Psychological Operations Group) out of Twinsburg, Ohio was also a first timer. “This was the first time on a KD range. I like this better because it is a more accurate way to group and zero with better feedback. I wouldn’t want to use a pop up (RETS ARF) range now.”
SPC Melissa Lister

One of the more experienced competitors was SFC Kyle Vanderlaan, a Career Counselor from Calendonia, MI serving with Army Reserve Careers Division BN 10 out of Whitehall, Ohio. SFC Vanderlaan has competed in the Army Best Warrior Challenge and at three other matches like this. “I love it. This kind of training is awesome for learning marksmanship and I now despise computer-controlled RETS targets. This kind of shooting gives better feedback and you better learn how to shoot on your own.”
SFC Kyle Vanderlaan

Events like this have proven more effective largely due to the personnel running the. SGT Kris Friend of the 351st TPC (Tactical Psychological Operations Company) out of Fort Totten, New York is one such shooter-instructor. SGT Friend has won a number of highly-contested National tournaments, including a high overall win in the President’s Match and first place Service Rifle finish at the Second Amendment Match and overall winner of the National Enlisted Man’s Match in 2007 and 2013.

“These kind of reactions are common, provided that the Soldiers are motivated to train and eager to learn,” Friend said. “Going from a hit-or-miss qualification to a more precision environment with better feedback and effective coaching always yields better results.”

1SG Coker, the 2nd POG First Sergeant put it more succinctly, “Annual qualification isn’t really training. THIS is training.”

3 comments on “USARCMP Events: Camp Grayling

  1. John Tate says:

    Look at the bottom photo in the message you sent (USARCMP Events: Camp Grayling), the photo of the guy shooting off-hand.

    Here’s a note I got from a friend.

    Notice the tip of the nose on the tip of the charging handle? This position keeps your eye relief distance from the rear sight consistent if used in every position so your sight picture will remain the same for every position. Changing your eye relief for the different position equals different points of impact. The army teaches this method.

    Any comments?

  2. >> Notice the tip of the nose on the tip of the charging handle? This position keeps your eye relief distance from the rear sight consistent if used in every position so your sight picture will remain the same for every position. Changing your eye relief for the different position equals different points of impact. The army teaches this method.

    Nose-to-charging handle is a general, doctrinal recommendation and tends to be a good one. As with any fundamental skill, the real point is to develop something yielding good results that can be consistently duplicated on demand. A smaller Soldier may not be able to get that close, especially with gear and/or body armor on. I hear objections occasionally but I’ve yet to see a skilled rifle shot of average, adult male proportions using the M16/AR-15 that didn’t get their head that close.

    The real answer, as always, is “show me your scores.” A shooter that consistently scores much better than a mere “expert” Army qualification (like, say, Expert or better Highpower Classification) and/or can back it up with EIC leg points or other superior results is doing things right. A person that can’t is just another dude with an unsubstantiated opinion.

  3. John Tate says:


    (Remember, I’m an M14 guy.)

    ((Note: after reading what’s below, I had to get my rifle out to find out exactly what I do. :-) ))

    When I shoot “awful-hand,” I try to stand as erect as possible with head as erect as possible. The rifle butt is very high in my shoulder. My head is no where near the rear of the receiver; in fact, my cheek is about half-way between the upper pistol grip and the heel of the butt; no where near my thumb either. My intent is to be erect.

    For sitting and prone, my cheek is against and over my thumb and in fact, my nose is quite close to the rear of the receiver, but not touching, but kinda beside the rear. Instead, my “cheek weld” is a mixture of comb of stock and thumb. But my head is way forward. (For sitting, I’m a cross-ankle shooter. It keeps the body more aligned with the line of fire; better for recoil control and reestablishment of natural point of aim. Of course, what do you M16 people care about recoil! There ain’t none!!)

    The “nose on op rod” idea is novel to me. First, I use an M16 as a “patrol rifle” not a serious target rifle, thus I don’t think too much about how I hold it … except to make it “feel right.” And, compared to an M14, it never really feels right.

    I fully agree with your comment, “Show me your scores.” If they are high and consistent, the guy is worth listening to. My friend from Hawaii sent me the nose weld paragraph. He’s not up to your standards, but he is a high & consistent shot. I think his comment was more for my daughters (2LT Maria Tate Herrera, USAR; Carmen Tate, USMC prospect). Neither one likes to listen to their father. ;-)

    Once upon a time, I could shoot kneeling. Now, my feet and ankles don’t like to bend. So … sure, I can pass a police kneeling stage of fire, but it ain’t a pretty sight. But IF I was to coach a youngster in kneeling with an M16, I’d sure push that compact, folded-up position where the shooter has the trigger guard on his forward knee, pistol grip behind, magazine well before. It looks (repeat LOOKS) like a splendid, solid, tight, REPEATBLE position.

    Stay safe!

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