[G]iving soldiers a more reliable weapon with greater range is kinda pointless if we don’t address one of the Army’s most persistent and glaring faults: its marksmanship program sucks. There’s no one part of the thing we can point to as being problematic. It’s not just the BRM taught at Basic, or the qualification tables. The whole thing, from start to finish, really, really, sucks.
What’s the point of giving soldiers a shiny, new rifle if they can’t hit the broadside of a barn with the one they’ve got?
Now, before you break out the pitchforks and your Expert qualification badges, sit down and think about what I’m saying. Unless your MOS directly involves shooting things in the face, when was the last time you went to the range during the workday for something other than qualification? When was the last time you broke out the rifles for anything other than to qualify, or to clean them for inspection?
For most of you, that answer will be either the last time you deployed, or never. And that’s a huge problem.
Over the last ten-and-a-half years in the North Carolina Army National Guard, I’ve spent more time being told not to kill myself or rape people than how to shoot. I don’t have a problem with qualification myself; I can reliably shoot high sharpshooter to low expert. But I also make a point to shoot recreationally whenever I can. Not everyone has that option, and plenty of folks who do don’t take advantage of it.
For most folks, the entirety of their marksmanship training will consist of three weeks in Basic, the few days out of the year when they go qualify, and maybe a few days or even a week or two of extra training when they mobilize. And that simply isn’t enough.
Nevermind that the Army’s qualification system is stupid and outdated. Shooting static popup targets at ranges between 50-300 meters is a good start, but to rely on that as the sole measure of a soldier’s ability to engage the enemy is insane. According to the Army Times article linked up at the top, one of the driving forces behind looking for a new round is the fact that something like half of all firefights occurred at ranges greater than 300 meters. Meanwhile, your average soldier doesn’t even bother shooting at the 300 meter targets, because they know they can’t hit the damn things.
If the Army’s quest for a new sidearm is any indication, the search for a new rifle will take at least a decade, untold millions of dollars, a half-dozen Congressional inquiries and investigations, and probably a few lawsuits before they settle on the final product. Which means there’s plenty of time to teach soldiers how to shoot before the new gear ever starts filtering its way through the system.
As a starting point, come up with a comprehensive training plan that utilizes Basic Rifle Marksmanship, then build on that foundation throughout the soldier’s career. Get soldiers to the range more often. Update the qualification tables to more accurately represent the threat they’re expected to face. Enforce qualification standards like PT standards, and offer regular remedial training for folks who fail to meet those standards.
Or just carry on before and put a shiny new rifle in the hands of a kid who barely knows which end goes bang. I watched a guy from our battalion’s Forward Support Company shoot a 6 this year. That’s good enough, right?
Congratulations to CPT Simanjaya, CSM Slee, and MSG Taylor for earning their first President’s Hundred for pistol (CSM Slee had previously earned it for rifle.)
Also on the USARCMP making the cut again were SSG Rosene (top five finish), SFC Sanderson, MAJ Bourne, MAJ Sleem, SGT Mowrer, and SFC Beerman.
On January 19, 2017, it was reported the SIG P320 won the United States Military Modular Handgun System Competition and is slated to become the new XM17/M17 pistol. More details to follow.
SIG SAUER, Inc. Awarded the U.S. Army Contract for its New Modular Handgun System (MHS)
Newington, NH (January 19, 2017) – SIG SAUER, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Army has selected the SIG SAUER Model P320 to replace the M9 service pistol currently in use since the mid-1980’s. Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator. All pistols will be produced at the SIG SAUER facilities in New Hampshire.
The MHS Program provides for the delivery of both full size and compact P320’s, over a period of ten (10) years. All pistols will be configurable to receive silencers and will also include both standard and extended capacity magazines.
“I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System Team,” said Army Acquisition Executive, Steffanie Easter in the release. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we truly have optimized the private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”
Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”
Competition is the pressure test of training and practice; it is the means through which resilience is developed. A loss is not a bad thing. A loss is an indicator of development; a lesson. If you do things a certain way you will achieve a certain outcome, the same can be said of winners. Individuals and teams winning competitions were better prepared to compete because their development didn’t involve the simple execution of tasks like an automaton.
Members of the U.S. Army Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program discuss their combat experiences and how competition shooting helps with readiness.
Team matches are considered the most important competitive events, especially among shooters on military teams. The USARCMP won first place in the National Trophy Team Rifle match at the 2016 National Matches.
Army Reserve Anderson won the overall match with a score of 2957-111x, one point below the current national record. Coached by MSG Norman Anderson, the team won the National Trophy for finishing first overall and the Hilton Trophy for being the high Reserve team.
National Trophy Team champions: Army Reserve Anderson. Team Coach MSG Norman Anderson, CPT Samuel Freeman, SGT Nickolaus Mowrer, SGT Joseph Hall, SPC Trent Thomas, SFC Joel Micholick, MSG Robert Mango, Team Captain SGM James Mauer.
United States Army Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program
How to earn a slot:
Learn more about the USARCMP