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OMMS Advanced Rifle Marksmanship Training

The Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School developed a program to improve Soldiers’ marksmanship skills.

In early 2010, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, the deputy commanding general for initial military training (IMT) of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, addressed IMT commanders in an effort to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the advanced individual training (AIT) currently provided at each site. One of the key areas that General Hertling addressed was the need to develop and implement a more attainable set of warrior tasks and battle drills while continuing to ensure that the standards remained consistent for all Soldiers receiving training at the various AIT sites.

Training commands have had a difficult time keeping pace with the high operating tempo and constant changes in enemy tactics, techniques and procedures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The introduction of new equipment like the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) has also created a training gap because MRAPs were being produced and shipped directly to the Soldiers in the theater and the equipment was not available for training stateside.

All AIT programs should be capable of maintaining the proficiency of Soldiers’ basic and ad­vanced rifle marksmanship, and that is where the Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School (OMMS) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, decided to concentrate its efforts.

Developing Marksmanship Instructors

One primary collective task that was not consistent across all AIT programs was the convoy live-fire ex­ercise. In lieu of the convoy live-fire exercise, OMMS de­cided to set up an advanced rifle marksmanship (ARM) range. Before building the range, the 61st Ordnance Training Brigade at Aberdeen Proving Ground [now reflagged as the 59th Ordnance Training Brigade at Fort Lee, Virginia] selected a number of cadre to attend training conducted by the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The AMU trained the cadre on the skills needed to build, set up, and instruct AIT Soldiers on the ARM range. The instructor training was conducted over a 5-day period and focused on six areas: basic rifle marksmanship safety, principles, positions, ballistics and zeroing, wind and weather, and shooter-target analysis. Following the AMU training, the cadre were certified as instructors.

The cadre then returned to Aberdeen Proving Ground, where they built a fully functional live-fire range and developed the program of instruction for ARM.

Implementing the ARM Range

The goal for the ARM range is to provide ordnance Soldiers with a strong refresher of the ARM program that they receive during basic combat training. During the initial training stage of the ARM training, the students receive 2 hours of primary marksmanship instruction before attending the range. Here the instructors reinforce the fundamentals of proper stance, weapon magazine change, and movement techniques from varying cover and concealment positions.

The next stage of ARM training is an intense 8-hour step-by-step phased block of instruction on the execution of live-fire training. During this phased instruction, the cadre provide the Soldiers with a live demonstration to show them what “right looks like.” Each Soldier then receives hands-on coaching from the cadre while engaging in a blank-fire iteration of the short-range marksmanship lane and the barricade transition lane. This portion of the training requires the most time because it allows the Soldiers to receive immediate feedback and make corrections identified by the cadre.

Once Soldiers are proficient on this portion of the training, instructors begin the practice portion of the dry-fire range. When the cadre is confident that the Soldiers understand and demonstrate the skills on the dry-fire range, the students are moved to the next phase of training—the live-fire exercise.

The Live-Fire Exercise

The live-fire exercise is the culminating event that incorporates all of the techniques learned during ARM instruction into a single training event. Each Soldier is provided a traditional silhouette with a smaller targeting area inside of it that is shaped like a bowling pin. (See photo below.) This target forces Soldiers to control their fires within the critical zone. Soldiers must effectively acquire the target and control their weapons while moving down the lane. During the short-range fire lane, Soldiers receive orders from the tower to engage the target from different distances while both on the move and at fixed positions.

After successfully completing the short-range fire lane, the Soldiers move to the barricade transition lane. In this lane, the Soldiers incorporate their marksmanship and stamina. The coaches act as safeties to closely support Soldiers while they maneuver from one barricaded position to another and engage targets downrange. When Soldiers complete the lane, all of the targets are recovered so that the cadre can provide the Soldiers with feedback on their engagements.

The OMMS advanced rifle marksmanship range increased Soldiers’ confidence and abilities to engage targets with their assigned weapon and prepared them to enter the force. Hopefully, this concept will be carried forward as the school moves to Fort Lee this summer.

Captain Matthew C. Miller is attending Intermediate Level Education at the Army Command and General Staff College. He was the commander of W Company, 143d Ordnance Training Battalion, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, when he wrote this article. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and gov­ernment politics and a master’s degree in conflict res­olution and analysis from George Mason University. A prior-enlisted logistics officer of the Quartermaster Corps, he is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course.

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