The Marine Corps' top weapons experts will converge on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Monday to discuss the most important challenges facing Marine marksmanship today.

At the annual Combat Marksmanship Symposium, from Oct.19-22, representatives from major commands will break into working groups focused on weapons, ranges and facilities, combat marksmanship, competition in arms, and simulated and distance learning.

The symposium provides a forum "to identify and discuss issues and provide recommended solutions," according to Marine administrative message 471/15, which announced the symposium. A Marine spokesman for Training and Education Command declined to provide specifics of what will be discussed, but the MARADMIN does list general topics of discussion.

One of the top priorities this year is the continued spread of training that emphasizes combat-essential marksmanship skills.

Those skills were not sufficiently honed by World War I-era bull's-eye marksmanship, leading to the introduction of the Combat Pistol Program in 2014. The CPP places shooters under time limits, and tests skills like reloading, to more closely simulate tasks they will have to perform amid battlefield chaos.

The working group will "identify potential improvements to the Combat Pistol Program and review and assess moving target training and evaluation," according to the message.

Marine leaders have for several years expressed interest in expanded use of moving targets, even testing some that react to lethal hits and zoom around ranges on armored Segway bases.

Another group will focus on improving the Competition in Arms Program, which struggled to attract competitors during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Participation is growing and leaders have added combat shooting akin to civilian three-gun matches that require shooters to hit targets with multiple weapons while on the move.

Division match winners are invited to spend a summer with the Marine shooting teams.

To conserve ammunition and range time, service leaders have been working for quite some time on new simulators to boost the amount of time Marines can train and become proficient marskmen.

New training and simulator updates could be on the way. Marine leaders are already procuring updated Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainers that link Marines together as they execute missions in a virtual world.

One of the trainer's advantages is that it fits aboard a ship, so members of a Marine expeditionary unit, for example, can stay sharp at sea.

Small-arms modernization. A standing working group will assess the state of the weapons that Marines carry into battle and will likely make recommendations on the Marine Corps' recently unveiled Small Arms Modernization Strategy. That could result in updated rifles, new pistols and possibly suppressors for all infantry rifles and carbines.

The service's ranges are aging and in need of an overhaul. Some can no longer meet modern training requirements, as marksmanship doctrine and tables of fire continue to evolve.

The range and facilities working group will "complete a draft range and facilities strategic campaign plan," that will lay the groundwork for updated ranges around the globe, according to the message.

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