We can conduct all sorts of range exercises, such as…

We can conduct all sorts of range exercises, such as this night shooting, with illumination rounds. Just be sure the fundamentals are worked on first or this is largely wasted.

“Before any practice on the range is commenced, at least a month of dry-fire training is required.” That was Army policy outlined by regulation circa 1904, and not much has changed in terms of marksmanship. Fundamentals understood then remain the same today, but a host of important technologies have found their way onto the battlefield since then and they have training requirements as well.

Having a coach or a shooting buddy watch is another good feedback point.

Directing bullets is the same, but the approach to teaching it is ever changing. The U.S. Army has utilized the current version of Trainfire since the early 1980s. The concept is to teach a soldier to reliably place hits somewhere on a silhouette a few hundred meters away. Unless tasked as a small arms trainer, match-winning shooting ability at the expense of other critical skills won’t help accomplish the mission.

Much of the time wasted during short-range training is spent clearing the line and walking downrange to observe targets.

The current program is sound, but the execution is often lacking. It’s been demonstrated that decent shooters can triple the ability of soldiers qualifying at the “expert” level and few soldiers are even at that level—at least when scored impartially and by the book. Making every soldier a rifleman is an oft-repeated catchphrase that has seen little implementation across the armed forces spectrum. It’s a good idea, but how shall we do it?

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  • Thanks for reading my article!

    You’re correct. I’ve competed in military-sponsored shooting matches with Commonwealth service members (Canada, Great Britain, Australia) and their personnel tend to be better marksmen, on average.

    I attribute this to a greater emphasis on higher level shooting across the Commonwealth forces.

    As an example, the ADF (Australian Defence Force) hosts an annual match (AASAM) that has around 500 competitors, double the size of the All Army Small Arms Championship. The ADF has around 80,000 troops and the US Army 1.5 million, yet ADF sees twice as many shooters at its nationals. Too, some of their qualification courses, notably LF6, are used in competition. US Army RETS “pop up” qualification is nearly useless for competitive purposes or higher level shooting and US troops aren’t normally exposed to EIC events unless they take up competition shooting.

    This doesn’t mean that American troops can’t shoot. A review of the results from AFSAM held annually at Camp Robinson and the scores posted by the USAR Shooting Team will prove my point.

    Fast X,
    John M. Buol Jr.

  • AJ

    Thats why Canadian servicemen are way better shots!