Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

Get the full copy of the Read Ahead paper:

Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

Shooting Team members have been saying this since about forever ago. I suppose it’s progress that somebody outside of the marksmanship programs finally noticed as well.

Note the authors of this paper failed to mention the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Training and Competitive Program (who largely staffed the Small Arms Readiness Group back when it used to be effective and relevant), the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, the All Guard Team, and the Guard’s state-level Small Arms Readiness Training Sections.

These exclusions are especially sad because the NGMTU, state-level SARTS, Guard and Reserve teams are officially declared by published military regulations. Most of the programs listed under paragraph 2d. are not.

I’d point out these exclusions just emphasize the paper’s point as even the authors of this document citing vast ignorance of effective marksmanship training are themselves ignorant of effective marksmanship programs throughout the Department of Army.

5 February 2014

INFORMATION PAPER

Subject: Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

1. Purpose. To provide the current status

2. Facts. There is no current training available within the institutional base that instructs leaders specifically on “how to” instruct marksmanship. No formal instruction exists today that develops all leaders on how to adequately teach marksmanship skills, firing or engagement techniques, and methods.

a. NCOES. This includes the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) or any other course currently offered at the Maneuver Center of Excellence. No course includes instruction on the variety of training aids, devices, simulations, and simulators (TADSS) that support marksmanship instruction, or how to use them effectively to achieve any desired increase in Soldier performance.

b. U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School. The Drill Sergeant School does provide limited instruction on marksmanship training; however, it is tailored to the instruction modules for Initial Entry Training (IET) and is not available to all leaders Army-wide. In an Army Research Institute study, even the Drill Sergeant courseware required additional attention and that “a common theme identified was that many drill sergeants misunderstood parts of rifle marksmanship doctrine and / or inconsistently applied training techniques and procedures” (Army Research Institute, 2011).

c. Several courses, products, and publications have been developed in the past decade to support marksmanship training at the unit level. The Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE) course, the Small Arms Integration Book (SAIB), Short Range Marksmanship course, Long Range Marksmanship course, and Small Arms and Optics (SA-O) course, are examples of those previously developed and provided by the MCoE. These items are no longer supported or provided by the MCoE. Other Army organizations have filled the training gaps created by the loss of these items, such as the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU), the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), and PM Soldier, Sensors, and Lasers (PM SSL) which offer mobile training teams to small groups (10-20 Soldiers per class).

d. Operational and Army Reserve units have subsequently developed their own marksmanship programs to fill these training gaps, particularly as AMU, AWG, and PM SSL cannot meet the training demand. The following organizations have developed or are developing their own marksmanship instruction courseware to alleviate training shortcomings and the expected loss of MTT support by AMU and AWG in the future:

  1. 10th Mountain Division
  2. 82nd Airborne Division
  3. 101st Airborne Division
  4. 7th Army Training Command (USAREUR)
  5. Warrior Training Center (WTC, National Guard Bureau)
  6. Small Arms Readiness Group (US Army Reserves)

These courses vary in design, content, and duration, but each does reference and use FM 3-22.9, Basic Rifle Marksmanship and the specific weapon technical manuals.

e. The MCoE provided a restructured SAWE Program of Instruction (POI) to units as an exportable training package for unit use. This POI can be found on the Warrior University at: https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/training-wiki/-/wiki/main/sawe and can be accessed from any government computer (Maneuver Center of Excellence, 2013).

f. During the AEWE analysis in 2012, specific attention was made to the training shortfalls within Army units. “The Army should consider teaching not just marksmanship to its Soldiers, but formally developing marksmanship training skills for its NCOs” (Army Training Evaluation Center, 2012). The report went on to comment that senior Command Sergeants Major “provided an overwhelming support towards relooking at the Army’s training approach…of US Army NCOs and Officers” concerning instructing rifle marksmanship training skills to leaders.

g. In a white paper from the then 197th Brigade Commander, this position was further promoted to “aggressively pursue consolidation of the different marksmanship courses we currently offer to the field under the auspices of the Global War on Terror into one course that produces a Small Arms Master Gunner. This course needs to build upon the basic knowledge all NCOs get from attending IET, the Warrior Leader’s Course, the (then) Basic Noncommissioned Officer’s Course, and other specialized training they receive during the course of their careers” (Gregory C. Kane, 2009).

3. Recommendation: The Maneuver Center of Excellence evaluates its current curriculum structures and their inherent ability to support any additional training hours specifically dedicated to the instruction of how to train marksmanship. This includes:

  • NCOA assess feasibility of including additional instruction on small arms training.
  • USAIS assess feasibility of implementing stand-alone functional training course that is specifically geared to certification of instructors at Home Station for small arms weapons, optics, and illuminators.
  • NCOA inquire with the Sergeants Major Academy for the feasibility to incorporate small arms instructor training within the Warrior Leader’s Course.

Stephen Krivitsky/AZTD-TDD/6-1828

APPROVED BY: COL Richard Timmons

Bibliography

Army Research Institute. (2011). Research Product 2011-07, Rifle Marksmanship Diagnostic and Training Guide. Fort Benning: Army Research Institute (ARI).

Army Training Evaluation Center. (2012). Analysis Report for the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) – Bold Quest 2012. Fort Benning: U.S. Army.

Ellison IV, M. I. (2005). Current Inadequacy of Small Arms Training for all Military Occupational Specialties int eh Conventional Army. Fort Leavenworth: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Gregory C. Kane, C. (2009). Forging a Coordinated Small Arms Training Strategy. Fort Benning: 197th Brigade.

Maneuver Center of Excellence. (2013). Small Arms Weapons Expert – Training and Educational Material. Retrieved FEB 03, 2014, from Warrior University: https://www.warrioruniversity.army.mil/training-wiki/-/wiki/main/sawe

Maneuver Center of Excellence, Directorate of Training and Doctrine. (2011). Analysis of Alternatives, Live Fire Training Strategies, Task 9. Fort Benning: Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Rand Corporation. (2013). Changing the Army’s Weapons Training strategies to More Efficiently Meet Operational Requirements (RESTRICTED DRAFT). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army.

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20 comments on “Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

  1. SFC Micah Marchand says:

    There is no mention of the National Guard Marksnmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. We have several courses that train in advanced Combat Marksmanship as well as host the largest Combat Competition in the country for the military, the Winston P. Wilson Matches. Our SDM course trains Soldiers not only how to improve marksmanship, but how to establish a Unit Marksmanship Program and enhance Unit Marksmanship. Soldiers that graduate our course return to their unit, establish many of the techniques tought here, and show vast improvements within their units Marksmanship capabilities.

  2. Anonymous says:

    MCoE asked the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center to rewrite and update SAWE POI. It was written and is now being conducted by the NGMTC.

  3. @SFC Marchand

    Thanks for adding this. The authors of this paper failed to mention the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Training and Competitive Program (who largely staffed the SARG back when it used to be effective and relevant), the National Guard Marksnmanship Training Center, the All Guard Team, and the Guard’s state-level Small Arms Readiness Training Sections.

    These exclusions are especially sad because the NGMTU, state-level SARTS, Guard and Reserve teams are officially declared by published military regulations. Most of the programs listed under paragraph 2b. are not.

    I’d point out these exclusions just emphasize the paper’s point as even the authors of this document citing vast ignorance of effective marksmanship training are themselves ignorant of effective marksmanship programs throughout the Department of Army.

  4. John Tate says:

    I suppose this is true, but if so, it’s amazing!

    The Army, and more … the Marines … have been effectively teaching (at least) rifle marksmanship for centuries! Is there one best way? I think so for the fundamentals, but I also think commanders don’t want to devote the required time, instead, satisfied to put out cannon fodder and bullet sinks in uniform.

    Ref USMC training. I was raised in the country and have been shooting a rifle (or shotgun or hand gun) since I was 8. Hunting squirrel, rabbit, dove, quail etc. or just tin cans, was a daily activity. And I brought home my fair share of meat. BUT, it was a week at the USMC MTU at Quantico that taught me how to do it right.

    FYI, the Navy has now cut its competitive marksmanship program from little to none.

    http://www.armytimes.com/article/20141012/NEWS/310120011/Missing-mark-Top-marksmen-say-Navy-funding-cut-impairs-team

  5. Personnel that know how to use and train effectively with small arms are still in the DoD. The problem is that know-how isn’t necessarily common among senior leadership or outside of marksmanship programs.

    It’s sad about the Navy program. Yet another point demonstrating the problem.

  6. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    The real issue is not about weapons proficiency, it’s about the failure of Leadership and the culture of Careerism in the Senior Ranks, Enlisted Grades included. There are, and have been for decades, training tools, recourses, and programs available to promote and enhance marksmanship readiness. Weapons training for our superiors are a “chore”, “a box to be checked off”, so they can get back to the “real” Company business of promotion packets and NCOER’s. That includes the UA’S who “don’t feel like” opening up the arms room so the Soldiers can practice positions and dry fire. Until the empty uniforms and sandbaggers in the upper ranks go away or are purged, nothing will change in the USAR.

  7. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    When will the Army Leadership wake up? Talk of adding marksmanship training at WLC is ludicrous, as if it’s a four hour block of instruction they can squeeze into the POI.

    Here’s a thought; why doesn’t the Leadership take off the shelf, and then dust off, AR-350-66-and then implement it force wide.

    I’d also humbly suggest they then read “Parrots or Professors: Training Military Marksmanship Instructors” by John Buol Jr.

    I suppose the next thing will be they’ve never heard of the Distinguished Rifleman’s program or the National Matches.

  8. >> When will the Army Leadership wake up? Talk of adding marksmanship training at WLC is ludicrous, as if it’s a four hour block of instruction they can squeeze into the POI.

    Excellent point. Attempting to fix this via a short, mandatory, add-on block of instruction would be as ineffective as addressing rampant, force-wide APFT and body composition failures with a quick on-line class.

    >> Here’s a thought; why doesn’t the Leadership take off the shelf, and then dust off, AR-350-66-and then implement it force wide.

    At least recognizing it as an ideal venue for selecting instructors and anyone with authority to enact or enforce small arms training policy. Sort of like expecting people to attend and graduate school before proclaiming them as educated.

    >> I’d also humbly suggest they then read “Parrots or Professors: Training Military Marksmanship Instructors” by John Buol Jr.

    For the Google-challenged: https://armyreservemarksman.info/2011/04/01/parrots-or-professors-training-military-marksmanship-instructors/

    >> I suppose the next thing will be they’ve never heard of the Distinguished Rifleman’s program or the National Matches.

    Adding some info about this and the AR 350-66 into relevant manuals and regulations as an appendix might help. Publications are distributed electronically so print expenses can’t be an excuse.

    I formally suggested doing this by submitting a DA form 2028 (RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO PUBLICATIONS) by email and snail mail to the FM 3-22.9 publishing authority. It was one of over a half dozen 2028s I’ve submitted. All were ignored.

  9. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    This has been a sore spot with me and thousands of Soldiers for years. The front office doesn’t get what “it” is in marksmanship training, and I’ll cut them some slack; how could they? The personnel in charge, who could make real changes, have little to no training in this area. But these are the individuals who are the Senior Leaders who have the sole authority to effect real changes.

    Bad Army Example:

    Q: How do we improve Airborne training?

    A: We’ll ask the top ranked 15-20 Officers who have never been through the school or any civilian skydiving experience to come up with suggestions and improvements.

    Now would anyone like to participate in jumping out of the Bird?

    We now have tens of thousands of experienced, combat tested NCO’s and Junior Officers, who have repeatedly stated their desire for more weapons and marksmanship training, and they mean with real systems and ammunition, and not in the simulators once every 8 or 10 months. They want sustained, meaningful training, not another “new” box to be checked off the Commanders METL.

    Good Army Example:

    If the Army had a serious intent to meaningful changes in the marksmanship POI, they would assemble a panel of Mr. Buol’s choosing, to come up with a list of X many suggestions, and be obligated to adopt at least three of them over the course of so many months, with the blessing of the Chief of Staff in advance.

  10. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    The biggest eye opener for me was when I opened my own shop. We give an assortment of classes and a good portion of the clients, at least a third, are prior service. When you get asked “what kind of classes?” and you give the response of intro to Service Rifle/NRA High Power, etc, and you begin to explain that these programs are on the books, dictated by formal regulations, and in theory, available to the average Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, they’re astounded. They’ve never heard of them, and that’s just criminal.

    I’m 100% in support of USAMTU and all that it does, but we need a more effective advertising tool, a “Re-Branding” as it were.

    I’m philosophically against diluting the training pie, and I hate the idea of such an approach, but maybe they need to set up a separate “Weapons Training Command”. The Senior Enlisted always love a new Command as it means more open slots, and Officers love to be attached to something “new and sexy”.

    Obviously, because of the calcification in the higher ranks, terms like marksmanship and competition would have to be replaced with the newer speaking points of the day like robust/enhanced/sustained.

    Again, I’m more against it then for it, but after 50+ years, what’s been the Army’s biggest change to the marksmanship POI? We changed the name of a rear sight to a “BDC” and added the kneeling position.

    Give them a new Unit Patch with a flashy logo, maybe even their own separate MOS and FM’s for it for them to write (Officers really love that) and keep it open to all ranks across the force so they can go back and integrate themselves among the force and spread the word. The strategy worked like a champ for USACAPOC.

  11. @SSG Soule

    Great stuff! I’ve forwarded this to my CoC at the USAR Marksmanship Program. Thanks!

  12. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    Anything I can do to provide, assist, or facilitate, don’t hesitate to ask.

    At the end of the day, all eyes in CONUS should be focused on the average Joe or Jane, the ones who have to pull the patrols in 75+ pounds of ACH/IBA/AMMO/COMMO for weeks (and tours) on end, to provide them with the skill sets necessary to survive on the battlefield.

    I don’t believe that’s too much to ask of our Leadership.

  13. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” is an old expression that fits this situation perfectly. I’ll give an example that should fit this scenario to a “T”.

    When I and a number of fellow NCO’s had returned from Iraq or Afghanistan, we were recruited to train Units that were mobilizing. We had all been through this Commands mobilization training and knew it was lacking, and we wanted to improve it. Among our many tasks, we were also charged with M9/M4 Qualification and Transition and Reflexive fire. The training as originally written was unrealistic, and as interesting as watching wet paint dry. We went through the chain and told them what we wanted to do. They gave the green light as long as it didn’t cost anything.

    A Ranger from the 75th then re-wrote the POI to accurately reflect conditions and scenarios overseas. He also changed the round counts, induced forced tactical reloads, and had them fire from various positions, in a series of lanes in increasing complexity.

    Based on my 3 Gun experience, I went to work creating a series of barriers, small/medium/large that were light weight, foldable, and stackable. I also made them with “pop-up” capability with targets that could be tripped on command and came out of L/R sides, top, or 2 at a time, and paid out of my pocket for the glue, 550 cord and TRADOCS 1-8 targets; cost to Army $0.00. And now we had the flexibility to turn any Pistol or Zero range into something far more mission capable than the Army ever envisioned.

    The Leadership was smart enough to trust their NCO’s (and stay out of the way) to get the job done. There were zero accidents, and the AAR’S were glowing. One of the most often repeated bullets from Unit Commanders was it was the best weapons training they had received, and would have like to have had several more days of that type of training.

    Whatever happened to those AAR’s sent up to MATOPS? They’re now probably in a warehouse sitting right next to the Ark of the Covenant. The point being is that the days of telling the junior enlisted “We’d like to make changes Sergeants, but (sigh) it’s just oh, soooooooooooooo complicated” are over. W e won’t say it out loud but in our heads were calling “BS” on that tired old pick-up line.

    The wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth time should have been over in 2002. It’s time to let the junior Officers and NCO’s step up, because they will get the job done.

  14. >> Whatever happened to those AAR’s sent up to MATOPS? They’re now probably in a warehouse sitting right next to the Ark of the Covenant

  15. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    Yeah, that’s just about what happened. Eventually we all out processed and went in different directions. About a year later I went back there just to see what had become of our work. The new personnel were polite and gave me the tour. It would have been better if I hadn’t. It seems all the hard work had been filed away with Center for Army Lessons Lost.

    Well, you see Sergeant, as was explained to me, they went back to the old POI and had done away with the barriers and equipment; a huge improvement in his estimation.

    “How so Sir?”

    “Well, with the updated POI, you guys would have to get up before 0400hrs, and wouldn’t call in cold to at least 1700hrs. Now, with going back to the old way, we’re back in the rear with the gear NLT 1300-1330hrs tops; it’s way more efficient”.

    I began to ask, and then just cut it off in my throat, the whole concept of training to standard, not to time, but why bother uttering pretty words into the air and watch them drift to the floor, only for the civilian contractor to come in that night to sweep them up?

    “Yeah, good for you Sir. Thanks for the tour”.

    I wish you guys a lot luck in your efforts; you’re going to need it. And, like the proverbial flower that grew out of a pot of dirt, that POI and reactive target frame system that was cast unceremoniously aside, was put to good use when I opened my shooting school and custom shop a few years ago. Thank you xxxxxx Command for the free R&D time; whooda thunk?

    They have a golden opportunity to change, but if they don’t (and odds are they won’t) then, at the very least, they should have the decency not to look surprised when the men have the courage to march up to the Commanders desk and say “enough already, I’m out”.

  16. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    What is the relevance of the USAR Shooting Team to the average Joe or Jane across the Reserves?

    Or, asked a different way;

    What if the Team was totally disbanded today, and they took a survey, not of the personnel on the Team, but on the work-a-day reservist, of the action and what effect it would have on them?

    I can tell you as a frustrated machinist that the instrument has yet to be devised to measure their total indifference to said action.

    If that were to be the case, then the Team has made itself about as important to the lower Enlisted as having a Jamaican Bobsledding Team competing in they’re name.

    They need to start by getting the common Enlisted up involved, to come up with (or dust off) programs that applies for the force at large, so that they (The Brass) would never think about budget cuts to them, because they would know just how severe the backlash would be.

    Right now, if a Soldier wants to learn, he has to go outside his Unit at his own expense, normally taught by former Marines, in Known Distance style (or any other) competition, at a civilian range. Or in other words, he gets a more thorough training in Marksmanship then he ever did in the USAR or its Team.

    And that is the most striking damnation on our Leadership across the board

  17. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    It’s unfortunate that the top Leadership have lost more sleep, totally agonized, more, over a piece of non functional headgear than they ever thought about marksmanship training across the force.

    It even more disturbing that you could take the average Civilian Service Rifle Competitor or 3 Gunner, and he/she would totally smoke the average Soldier trained with the current methods of instruction.

    What’s the most heartbreaking is, you could ask any Civilian up or down a firing line at any High power match, and they could tell you in detail about the Distinguished Rifleman’s program; ask any Soldier at an annual Weapons qualification and they usually respond with “The what program?”

    Leadership is doing a bang-up job otherwise though.

  18. >> What if the Team was totally disbanded today, and they took a survey, not of the personnel on the Team, but on the work-a-day reservist, of the action and what effect it would have on them?

    The same result as if any Reserve element not operating within the realm of their branch/MOS or command or personal interest went away: Likely nothing. Routine qualification is of interest because it shows up on reports commanders are accountable for. However, there are no bonus points if a percentage (or if anyone) in the unit earned leg points that fiscal year.

    >> They need to start by getting the common Enlisted up involved, to come up with (or dust off) programs that applies for the force at large, so that they (The Brass) would never think about budget cuts to them, because they would know just how severe the backlash would be.

    I think it is worse than you realize.

    Army Reserve Marksman was not a name I conjured out of thin air. It is the official name of a publication directed by regulation (AR 140-1, Chapter 7) requiring Office, Chief Army Reserve to disseminate marksmanship information throughout the Reserves. OCAR stopped publishing this in the 1990s due to funding. After reading the reg, I reserved the domain name, created this site, and contacted Public Affairs at OCAR by email, phone, and certified snail mail about it.

    The suggestion was to distribute a brief email monthly with links to relevant articles, making publication cost a non-issue. In addition to regulation requirements, I used the Army Ten-Miler as precedent because information on this event is spammed to every Reservist at their mail.mil email and the supporting website is a commercial domain (.com) and commercially hosted, same as this one.

    At first, OCAR appeared receptive. Their Public Affairs OIC contacted me, saying there would be “… no problem with you producing an email version that we can send out via AKO. We will support distribution of your product via AKO leader email and by highlighting in online and social media. We will also offer a quick review/edit of your product before you go final with it (just for another set of eyes on it for edits).

    Let me know if this meets your needs.”

    A few weeks later I was informed by the same people that this was not going to happen. Guidance from my leadership in the USAR Marksmanship Program was to drop it. And that’s where we stand today.

  19. SSG Michael A. Soule says:

    First of all let me just state that I was not advocating the disbanding of the Team; quite the contrary. At present, you guys are the only hope in the Reserve system. I’ve followed this page with interest for years, and would like to thank you and the many others, for the magnificent work that you have done on this site and in other venues, on your own time and at your own expense. It’s not within my power, but I’d sign off on the DSM for your efforts.

    Secondly, without reading off my rather boring biography, believe me when I tell you that when it comes to the work schedule, training schedule, additional duties, etc; “I copy/I get it”. I’m on your side.

    Third; a disclaimer in that what few (if any) changes to the system will no longer benefit me-my day is done. I have calcium deposits an inch thick on my forehead from banging it against the wall. It’s now “Mr.” and I no longer have to worry about jiving up the match schedule with Drill, and for years my “job” is teaching classes and building irons, so I get to all the matches I want and/or the “Mrs.” (the real CO anyway) will allow, all without the help of my former Command’s or the USAR.

    But I don’t have the resources of the USAR and they’re only so many classes I can give in a FY. But listening to the Reservists coming through, who are getting the same doors slammed in their face as I did in mine for all those years by the 1SG’s, CO/BN/BDE Commanders, there has to be some way or remedy for the younger troops.

  20. We’re getting more attention outside of military channels. Some recent news and TV coverage:

    http://www.katv.com/clip/10628660/us-army-reserve-marksman-competition#.VCXWxZ0ZeRk.wordpress

    http://firearmusernetwork.com/2014/09/10/usamu-small-arms-championships-2014/

    Info is there for anyone willing to use Google. It’s reaching out to the disinterested (who probably need our help the most) that is the most difficult. That and stemming the tidal wave of nonsense about marksmanship dispensed by novice-level shooters in the military and elsewhere.

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