We are going to start a discussion on qualification standards. Specifically, we are going to address what the standard is for qualification with the M4. The references for this is TC 3-22.9, change 1 dated January 2017.
Appendix F of TC 3-22.9 Change 1 states that “The 25-meter scaled target alternate course is used when a standard record fire or KD range is unavailable for weapon qualification.” What is the definition of ‘unavailable?’ For the purposes of this discussion and in general, ‘unavailable’ means no pop-up qualification range exists at the duty station.
So if we have a place like Fort Bragg, where there are multiple pop-up ranges, but you are unable to schedule it due to a lack of previous planning, does that still count as ‘unavailable?’ The answer is no. Paratroopers need to qualify on the standard qualification range. This will build confidence in their ability to engage targets past 25 meters, which is all they are getting with the ALT-C target.
Units need to incorporate the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy into their unit training plan in order to be able to plan successfully and utilize the six qualification ranges on Fort Bragg efficiently. Moreover, it is important that if they are not planning on using a range for the week, they need to cancel it as early as possible to ensure that other people who can train during the time in question can use it. If you have questions on what the IWTS looks like, you can reference earlier posts. For Fort Bragg, 12 weeks out is the maximum you can reserve a piece of land.
If a qualification range is not available, and a known-distance range is available, then units can conduct the known-distance alternate course of fire as outlined in appendix F. This course of fire still has the Paratrooper having to practice the shot process and apply a hold based off atmospheric conditions and the range to the target. TC 3-22.9 states that “The KD record fire range allows Soldiers to engage targets at range while experiencing time constraints, feedback, and the effects of wind and gravity.” The ALT-C qualification only provides at most, two of these things.
The picture above illustrates what the course of fire looks like for the known distance qualification. There are two target types used: the E-type and the F-type. Paratroopers will have two minutes at the 300, one minute at the 200, and one minute at the 100. Positions fired from are the prone supported at 300 yards, prone unsupported at 200 yards, and kneeling unsupported at 100 yards. The round count is 20 rounds at the 300, 10 rounds at both the 200 and 100 yard lines, for a total of 40 rounds.
One of the major purposes of a qualification is so leaders can assess how their Paratroopers are doing at engaging targets at actual distance. When you eliminate the variables of actually applying a hold and compensating for the effects of wind, you get a much less accurate picture of what your Paratroopers are capable of. Commanders will base their training off incomplete information, believing their paratroopers are trained to a higher level of proficiency then they actually are.
So to sum up, we’ve discussed what the qualification standards are as per doctrine. What qualifies as ‘unavailable’ for Alternate qualifications, what the Known Distance qualification is, and why it is a better option for alternate qualification then the ALT-C qualification.