Why 25 meter “qualifications” need to go the way of the Dodo…

For Fossil Friday, we are going to be discussing an idea that needs to go away: the reliance on the Alternate Course, C (ALT-C) table of fire for qualification. The reference for this discussion is TC 3-22.9 and Army Research Institute Study AD-A183 872.

The alternate ‘C’ qualification table, or ‘ALT-C’ as it is commonly known, was developed originally by the Army Research Institute as an alternative qualification standard (along with known-distance qualification) for units who did not have access to modified record fire ranges. This was a common problem in the Army of the 1980’s, especially with the many divisions that were stationed overseas in places like Germany, where population density precluded the ability to make large range complexes all over the countryside.

With the downsizing that happened in the ‘90’s however, that argument went away. The remaining ten divisions were structured around a Continental United States location for the most part, with easy access to Modified Record Fire Ranges coming with it. ALT-C did not go away however. Through the years, it has grown to become some units’ prime method of qualifying their soldiers with their weapons system.

What the ALT-C doesn’t do, is give an accurate assessment of the Paratrooper’s ability to engage a threat at distance. The Army Research Institute study states “because the correlation between the two courses of fire was so low, it precluded using one score as a predictor for the other.” (p.5) In other words, there was no way of determining performance of engaging targets at distance based on the score of the ALT-C qualification. Commanders, and more importantly the Army as a whole, get an unrealistic assessment of what their soldiers are actually capable of. That’s not even getting into potential for the ‘skilcraft qualification’ mentioned in the picture above happening.

So knowing that ALT-C doesn’t give an accurate reflection of ability to engage targets at distance, why do units still use it? Units claim this is an ‘efficiency measure,’ as they only have to request one range to do both zero and qualification, then they can move onto ‘advanced rifle marksmanship’ (whatever their definition of that is).

Using the Modified Record Fire Range gives the commander (and more importantly, the NCO’s who trained the soldiers) a better idea of if their soldiers are actually retaining the skillset of engaging targets with their weapon at distances of up to 300 meters. Zeroing at 25 meters, and then performing a grouping exercise (let’s call a spade a spade) at the same distance does not give the same feedback.

So to sum up, ALT-C was developed during a time when the Army had a lot more people in places where they could not physically have access to Modified Record Fire Ranges. It, like the dodo, needs to go extinct.

#weaponsmastery #NCObusiness #burneveryALTCtargetyoufind

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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