The Corps is currently in the process of experimentation and evaluations for proposed changes for the annual rifle qualification.
Training and Education Command provided few details about what those changes may entail, but said the modifications may involve the use of a new automatic scoring system called Known Distance Automated Scoring, or KDAS.
In a request for information posted on the government’s business opportunities portal, the Corps solicited information from industry leaders for a new rifle range auto scoring system that would include electronic visual displays for shooters and range coaches.
The system the Corps is looking for will also automatically score shots and control the shooting pits, removing the need for Marine manual labor to score and adjust targets.
That RFI posted in December noted that the Corps’ course of fire for table one was currently under revision.
All Marines undertaking their annual rifle qualification are required to qualify on the course of fire for tables one and two to receive an aggregate rifle score. Scores are broken down into marksman, sharpshooter and expert for those Marines who qualify on the range.
Table one tests basic marksman skills from known distances shooting from various positions from standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. Marines shoot at distances ranging from 100–500 meters.
The course of fire for table two incorporates combat marksmanship skills born out of lessons learned from the Corps’ counterinsurgency conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That course of fire recently went under revisions in 2016 to incorporate necessary combat skills like engaging targets with an elevated heart rate, moving quickly into shooting positions, and the ability to determine friend or foe on the battlefield. Table two also involves shooting moving targets.
Marine Corps Training and Education Command said the purpose of the newly proposed changes is “to identify training efficiencies and ultimately develop better marksman.”
Nick Vaughan, a former Marine squad leader who served in Iraq, told Marine Corps Times that the Corps’ adaptations and changes to the rifle marksmanship program over the years have been a step in the right direction by incorporating lessons learned from years of combat experience.
“If I were to make any changes at all, it would simply be to increase the frequency of the event to at least biannual,” Vaughan said. “Marksmanship is a perishable skill, and if leadership is taking marksmanship seriously, then higher frequency of training and larger ammo/training budgets are a must.”
Weapons Training Battalion, Training and Education Command will submit recommendations following its experimentation to Marine Corps leadership for any future decision on changes to the rifle qualification.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.