Marines aim downrange at the Indoor Small Arms Range at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 14. Corps officials want to develop ranges that more closely mimic combat demands. (Lance Cpl. B.A. Stevens / Marine Corps)
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Range upgrades and a new plan for combat pistol marksmanship are on the agenda for this year's annual Combat Marksmanship Symposium, to be held Oct. 15-19 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
The theme for this year's symposium is "continuing momentum for combat marksmanship" as leaders push for greater emphasis on functional marksmanship that carefully mimics scenarios Marines are likely to encounter in the war zone. That includes shooting on the move and hitting unpredictable targets.
This year's working groups, which will convene at the symposium, are as follows, according to Marine administrative message 536/12, signed Sept. 27.
Weapons: Bring together the acquisition and development community with the end users of weapons and optics to assess marksmanship doctrine and future developments.
Range facilities: Analyze range facilities and their original intent, compared to current training requirements, to recommend upgrades.
Combat rifle marksmanship: Identify potential improvements, including training with moving targets.
Combat pistol marksmanship: Recommend a plan for implementation of pistol marksmanship.
Competition in Arms Program: Reinvigorate the CIAP, which is designed to enhance proficiency by refining marksmanship skills through competition.
Simulation and distance learning: Recommend ways to fill gaps in the current marksmanship program through simulations and distance learning.
The commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command recently declared that pistol marksmanship, the use of improved simulation and unpredictable targets are the important initiatives in the year to come.
On combat pistol marksmanship, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills said a new program is in the works and would demand Marines do far more than shoot off the bench.
"It's a little bit more movement; it's a little bit more getting the weapon out of the holster, as opposed to the old you-knew-what-was-coming type of range. It's more of a challenge," he said. "We're looking at it here at Quantico. The experts are pleased with it, and we're going to move forward with it, I think, within the next year or so."
On the use of simulation, he said the ability to hit unpredictable targets or targets at unknown distances is critical to combat proficiency, and Marines will see more emphasis on simulation to improve these skills.
"We fire on the move now with rifles — the targets are moving and those kinds of things — again more of a combat-oriented procedure. There's also some simulation ranges coming online now where you can shoot live rounds. … So I think in the range area, you'll see some growth."