“Your rifles are capable of 2 to 3 MOA…at best,” says Master Gunner Sfc.Brad Kennedy to a new class of soldiers. “At this time we’ve not established a way to do proper round count on these rifles and a lot of your weapons need new uppers due to the wear from training and combat operations. My instructors and I are going to teach you how to hit a spot on a human target across no-man’s land using open sights. We’re making a better class of rifleman.” In other words, they will train you to achieve whatever accuracy potential is in the rifle.
Field Manual 3-22.9 states, “The primary mission of the SDM (Squad Designated Marksman) is to deploy as a member of the rifle squad. He is not a squad sniper. He fires and maneuvers with his squad and performs all duties of the standard rifleman. The secondary mission of the SDM is to engage key targets from 300 to 500 meters with effective, well-aimed fire using the standard weapon system and standard ammunition. He may or may not be equipped with an optic. Therefore, the SDM must gain an understanding and mastery of the fundamentals of marksmanship, ballistics, elevation and windage compensation, sight adjustments and range estimation.”
The course is seven days long and taught by the 82nd Airborne DMU (Division’s Marksmanship Unit). Students must receive a go in all five phases of DM training as outlined in FM 3-22.9 to become an SDM. Those who fail to meet the standard will be credited with 60 hours of advanced marksmanship training.
Typically, 40 slots are allocated for NCOs and paratroopers. TW accepted an invitation from the 82nd to experience this unique training first-hand and increase program awareness. Students are required to bring the weapons they’re issued, the M4/M16 carry handle (if detachable), BUIS (back-up iron sights), binoculars, and either an issued Trijicon ACOG, EOTech, or Aimpoint M68 CCO (close combat optic). After two days of classroom instruction at Ft. Bragg, NC, we packed our duffel bags and moved to the field to develop our skills.