New Annual Rifle Qualification to Make Marines More Lethal

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Source: Petty Officer 2nd Class, Rachael,
Source: Petty Officer 2nd Class, Rachael,

March 1, 2021 | Originally published by U.S. Marines on February 23, 2021

The Marine Corps began the train-the-trainer course of the new Annual Rifle Qualification, which will fully replace the previous Table 1 and Table 2 qualification course of fire on October 1, 2021.

The ARQ was designed to give a more realistic and “train like you fight” environment by emphasizing lethality and positional shooting. Improvements to the Marine Corps rifle training and qualification program have been under development since 2016.

The ARQ will further develop combat scenario shooting skills, resulting in a more proficient fighting force. The Service-wide, entry-level rifle training will remain unaffected for recruits at both Marine Corps Recruit Depots and for officers at The Basic School in order to develop strong fundamentals, confidence, and weapon comfortability.

“Dating back to the early 1900s with only minor changes from its original form, the current annual rifle training qualification has been unchanged,” said CWO4 Anthony L. Viggiani, Marine Gunner, Training and Education Command. “This has been the same qualification that every Marine shoots throughout their entire career, until now. The ARQ enhances proficiency, confidence, and lethality in a dynamic environment using multiple targets, limited exposure targets, moving targets, and shooting on the move.”

Marine Corps-wide implementation will take place no later than the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2022, with active-duty forces transitioning by October 1, and Marine Forces Reserve transition in FY22. During the second and third quarters of FY 2021, Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, will provide training and assistance on the conduct of ARQ to formal marksmanship training units in order to facilitate the transition to Service-wide ARQ implementation.

The ARQ includes a three-day course of fire. Day 1 includes a “holds day,” with the drill portion conducted first. Days 2 and 3 are pre-qualification and qualification, respectively, where the destroy portion is conducted first with engagements starting far to near in order to foster an offensive combat mindset.

The more operational training requires Marines to conduct the course of fire in helmet and body armor but allows the opportunity to use bipods, rest the weapon on their magazine, or rest their weapon on their assault pack as long as time constraints are met. Scoring is measured by lethal effects with destroying targets in the allotted time.

“This enables the individual Marine the opportunity to engage their weapon system from multiple firing positions and find the most efficient way to utilize alternate shooting positions throughout the course of fire,” said Viggiani. “Our operating environment has changed over the years, so we had to make changes to our qualifications on marksmanship.”

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