The new rifle qualification “Modified Record Fire (Barricade)” will require moving between tables of fire and changing positions while reloading under a time limit. Conducted on a RETS (“pop up”) range, the target exposures will begin whether the shooter is ready or not.
To be ready, here’s instruction and video from the 82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner
For Walkthrough Wednesday, we are going to be discussing the Draft qualification for the M4A1, and what changes will be coming about as a result of it. The reference for this discussion is the 82nd IWTS NCO Professional Development PowerPoint.
To refresh your memory, the current qualification consists of three tables: Prone Supported, Prone Unsupported, and Kneeling Unsupported. There is no time standard, and no quantifiable grading standard for the ‘Control’ element of the shot process outside of hit or miss. Soldiers currently have as many attempts as they want (and ammunition allows) to qualify ‘expert.’
The draft qualification standard has not changed the overall round count for the qualification, but it has changed the number of tables (four) with a magazine allocated to each. There are three position changes and three magazine changes as a part of this. Soldiers will have five seconds to conduct magazine change and position change from prone unsupported to prone supported. Eight seconds to conduct magazine change and position change from prone supported to kneeling supported. Finally, they will have five seconds to go from kneeling supported to standing supported. If you doubt that it can be done, reference the video attached to this post.
The draft qualification standard is now a non-alibi course of fire; once it starts, it does not stop. If you have a malfunction and don’t reduce it in time, just like in combat, there is a penalty. In the qualification, it is your overall score, if it was combat, it would be potentially your life. All too often I see Paratroopers on the range have a malfunction and stare at their weapon like they are unsure of what to do. This will help soldiers to focus on their shot process and gain proficiency with their weapon.
There will be four levels of qualification: Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman, and Qualified. Soldiers will have one attempt to qualify at any level above Marksman. If they take multiple attempts to achieve the standard, they will be ‘qualified.’ This means you met the minimum standard, but did not exceed it. Therefore, you will not be awarded a badge or promotion points.
The 82nd has done a test run of the draft qualification for the Maneuver Center of Excellence. The total course of fire takes approximately four minutes to run through. This means the planning factor is approximately 10 minutes per iteration (giving a chance to police brass, etc.). This doubles the number of iterations that can be conducted, allowing for more throughput in a given day.
Every Paratrooper I asked said that even though their scores were lower, they preferred the new qualification overall because it was challenging and they actually felt like they were a soldier when they did it. It also incorporated the use of cover, and focusing on the shot process, which is more functional for combat-related tasks.
So to sum up, the rifle qualification is getting ready to become more challenging. Leaders of all levels need to educate themselves now on this and how to train to prepare for it via the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy, so that they, and their Paratroopers will be set up for success. If they do not, they will be setting their soldiers up for failure when the standard changes.