As a shooter on rifle range qualification day, have you ever seen your target come up crooked, barely hanging onto the stand, and wonder, “What the heck are the Marines doing in the rifle pits?”
Pulling pits at the rifle range might be most Marines' least favorite task. It requires constantly raising and lowering targets just to see them fall off the rickety stands, and quickly patching them up with pasties to give the shooter a clean canvas ... just to watch them fall off again.
It’s a frustrating, tedious task.
There’s the fact you have to rely on another Marine in the pit to accurately score your shots — and that one-point difference between the marksmen pizza box badge and sharpshooter can save a a lot of scorn before the next chance to qualify.
There’s the shooter who probably missed the target entirely during the last course of fire, leaving the scorer staring at the target for an eternity, seeking a nonexistent shot hole.
There’s always the Marine who shoots on the wrong target — those must just be bonus points to help a buddy who is about to fail on the range.
The Corps' entire rifle range qualification process is rife with human error and inefficiencies that can impact Marines' scores on the range.
Well, the Corps finally is looking to remedy this. In a request for information posted on the government’s business opportunities portal, the Corps is in the hunt for an automatic scoring system for its ranges.
In the posting the Corps said that the purpose of the new scoring system is to “reduce the amount of labor necessary to conduct KD [known distance] training/qualification. By eliminating the need for target operators in the pits, the labor overhead associated with KD training is greatly reduced.”
“During marksmanship training the KDAS [known distance automated scoring] will be required to accurately show the shooter where they hit the target, to provide feedback that will assist the shooter in developing their shooting skills," the RFI stated.
And the Corps is looking for a complete system that will streamline the scoring process and ease the rifle range qualification process.
According to the RFI, the Corps wants new scoring platform display systems for coaches and shooters.
For marksman coaches on the range, a new display unit will allow the coach to view and track the shots of four shooter lanes at once.
Shooters will have a display unit that will let them track their individual shot placement and score as well.
A single control system will be able to communicate wirelessly and control up to 100 targets at once, according to the RFI. That means no more Marines in the pits manually pulling targets up and down.
The new scoring system is intended to reduce “the amount of time shooters need to spend on the range, freeing them up to perform other work,” the RFI reads.
So maybe the days of showing up to the range at dawn also are coming to an end?
Responses to the Corps’ request for information regarding the new scoring system are due by Jan 11.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.