Army Sniper School Fail

The United States Army Sniper Course just reported that they have a high failure rate due to #Soldiers not being able to pass the Army’s minimum threshold grouping of 6 MOA (4cm at 25m) to standard. This is a disheartening but honest reflection of current Soldier ability with small arms. Nobody can address a problem they refuse to acknowledge. Kudos to the United States Army Sniper Course for doing the right thing and being public about it.

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Update: Army public affairs has since had the post about this very real problem removed. I guess that’s easier than addressing the issue…

I saved the picture and text as originally posted before it was deleted.

From the United States Army Sniper Course:

From day one, Sniper School isn’t easy.

Please ensure that Soldiers attending are prepared to perform the first event as it delivers the highest attrition rate of all graded events. This event consist of firing an M4 Carbine with iron sights at 25 meters. We shoot the Army’s standard M4 zero targets and we require that the impacts are within 4 centimeters.

Units spend a lot of money and resources to send soliders to this course. We want to graduate 100% of our students as we can but must maintain standards.

Before you stands the bags of 15 students that failed group-in. The one event at the USASC that delivers the largest amount of failures is the 25-meter group-in. This event consists of firing an M4 Carbine with iron sights at 25 meters. We shoot the Army’s standard M4 zero targets and we require that the impacts are within 4 centimeters (6 MOA, which is the minimum Army standard all Soldiers are supposed to be able to pass, including new recruits during Initial Entry Training). Despite this, we commonly see 25-30% of arriving soldiers incapable of meeting this standard, even after being declared as a suitable candidate for Sniper training by their leadership and (allegedly) having qualified “expert” in the past six months.

Do not take this as the USASC poking fun, but rather as a teaching point. Units spend a lot of money and resources to send soldiers to this course. We want to graduate 100% of our students as we believe and know that snipers are force multipliers. Please take the time to ensure you or your soldiers can meet a course pre-requisite.

The 39 students that did successfully complete group-in have our fullest attention. We can also include doctrinal updates, curriculum updates and re-writes, force modernization, equipment procurement for tomorrow’s sniper, equipment testing, international sniper competition, and general soldier tasks. The soldiers used their Assault packs instead of a sandbag which is why there are notable statements highlighted in TC 3-22.9.

We presented a fact that the biggest discriminator at the USASC is the 25-meter group-in. For those that don’t know, soldiers will shoot, retrain if needed, then shoot again. We do not run a selection course as we firmly believe that units have already selected the soldiers attending the course. We provide a service for the Army as snipers can help shape the battlefield. The army is vastly understrength with qualified snipers and we are far from “badge protecting.”

At one point we identified that the force was struggling so bad with the M4, that we provided an M4 PMI, took students through the EST2000, then performed attempt 1, retrain, attempt 2. The number of drops was still 25-30%, meaning no change.

The USASC does not need to disclose any of this information but for the betterment of the Soldier attending, we will share data points where difficulties commonly occur.


7 comments on “Army Sniper School Fail

  1. Joe Silvia says:

    No disrespect but I have to ask. Do they use their own weapons or Sniper School weapons and is it verified that the weapon system of the individual will produce the required standard?

  2. John Buol says:

    Great question. As reported to me, the weapons used for this are owned by the Sniper School and they confirm the rifles are up to spec. Given ~75 percent pass this very easy test shows the rifles are fine. All students and leadership are told about this test in advance, so there’s no surprise.

  3. Joe Silvia says:

    I’m going to nitpic here for practicality purposes. In spec can mean a couple of things. Per the TM or yes the rifle will produce the group. Before I sent a candidate packing I would validate the hardware. Of course they may be doing that. Hard to believe a unit would waste a slot like that.

  4. John Buol says:

    I have every indication that the School is ensuring that candidates can pass this easy standard and that the rifles are known to be good. Consider that 75% of the candidates do pass this same standard by shooting the same weapons as the 25% that did not. Personnel in the know have told me the only surprise here is that anyone in the Department of Army remains surprised by this result which has been my experience over the past 30 years as well.

  5. Paul Mazan says:

    It seems to me that someone down the line isn’t sufficiently screening the candidates they are sending. 6 moa isn’t a terribly high standard to qualify for sniper school. In fact I am surprised it is that low. Given the complexities of long range shooting and the need to learn to read wind and manage not to mention trajectory over distance I would think they would expect the candidates to come with the ability to shoot well at 25 meters.

  6. John Buol says:

    Truth! The “screening process” consists of a Commander’s memo stating the Soldier meets said standard. There is no process to confirm that the Commander or Soldier is even aware of the standard they’re claiming competence in. This is the case for all U.S. Army small arms training and has been for decades.

  7. Paul Mazan says:

    That explains the failure rate and insures that it won’t improve until the procedure changes.

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