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Fossil Friday: One Record Fire Attempt to Rule Them All

 

For Fossil Friday, we are going to be discussing an idea whose obsolescence is due: Multiple attempts to qualify with a weapons system. The reference for this discussion is Division Pamphlet 600-2, and the 82nd enduring range trending reports.

When soldiers take an Army Physical Fitness Test for record, they get one attempt. If you don’t pass that day, you get time to prepare for a retest. But with weapons proficiency, something that arguably is just as, if not more important that physical fitness in combat, we send our soldiers back to ‘qualify’ over and over again. How is that giving the Soldier an accurate assessment of their capabilities? How is that giving the NCO’s an accurate assessment of their training plan? The truth the matter is, we are doing our soldiers a disservice by not expecting more out of them.

In the most elite units in the Army, you can be called upon at any time, on any given day, to qualify with your weapon, cold. No zeroing before. No practice qualification. If you don’t meet the standard, you are not in that unit for long. In a similar manner, we need to place emphasis on weapons mastery for our Soldiers. It should be tied to your promotion, be externally evaluated, and be given one attempt to qualify. If you do not qualify with your weapon, as a Soldier in the United States Army, an organization tasked with fighting and winning the nation’s wars, then you should be retrained, and after an appropriate period of time, if you do not pass, you will be considered for separation from the Army in the same fashion we chapter Soldiers who do not pass the Army Physical Fitness Test.

One other aspect that most Leaders don’t consider is what happens if Soldiers don’t qualify in the first attempt. On the 82nd Enduring Range, the Master Gunner Cell has kept track of statistics for over a year. In that time thousands of Paratroopers have been through Table VI on range 43 (Modified Record Fire Range). The trends in the data show that the firer’s probability of qualifying go down for each subsequent attempt. Sending firers up over and over builds no confidence in their ability to actually pass Table VI.

How do we as Leaders address this prior to coming out to the range? Simply put; how we train has to change. The only things that happen are the things we put emphasis on. Leaders at all levels need to realize that the ‘82nd eight’ which are the primary tasks the soldier needs to be capable of performing, has marksmanship as the first item. As we’ve mentioned before, you don’t expect to score a 300 on a Army Physical Fitness Test, if you don’t do physical conditioning Daily. Similarly, Leaders need to start performing dry-fire every week, and scheduling the Engagement Skills Trainer frequently to ensure that Soldiers build and maintain proficiency with their weapon. This will build Soldier’s Confidence and proficiency with their weapon to the point where they are ready for this level of testing.

So to sum up, multiple attempts at Table VI only reinforce in the Soldier that they are not successful in their ability to engage targets at distance. It, like the Alt-C qualification, needs to go extinct.

#weaponsmastery #NCObusiness #onequalattempttorulethemall

Raymond Miller
82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.

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