FORT BENNING, Ga., (March 4, 2015) — After learning the fundamentals during the two-week Level I of the Master Marksmanship Training Course, students are ready to advance to Level II – short-range marksmanship.
“Level I builds the foundation for Level II,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Schacht, assistant team chief for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit instructor training group. “We ensure the fundamentals are solid. Everything was really done on their bellies in a prone, supporting or kneeling position, but as we transition to SRM, they’re on their feet. So, if there was any type of foundational issue, as we stand up and get vertical it’s going to be exponentially more difficult to hone their skills.”
This week long level focuses on engaging targets at distances from 0 to 50 meters with the M9 Beretta pistol and the M4 rifle.
Schacht said the inclusion of the M9 is part of a larger effort to spread pistol marksmanship across the Army.
“The M9 is unique inside the Infantry for machine gunners, lieutenants and gunners on vehicles,” he said. “There’s an initiative out there to get team leaders and above this sidearm. So, what we’re doing here is taking a step forward in that direction and making sure everyone here can understand how to use that weapon safely.”
The week begins with a basic introduction to the weapons that will be used during Level II.
“We treat each first day of a level as if they’ve never been on a given weapon system,” Schacht said. “So, we talk to them about the characteristics of the pistol and the rifle all over again. We work on their standing positions. We run through magazine changes all over again.”
Day 2 focuses on the engagement criteria of distance to a target, target size and shooter capability and using those criteria to make decisions on how to shoot.
“The analogy we use is if you have the side of a barn, as you get closer to that barn, you can fire faster because it’s a bigger target,” Schacht said. “But, if you take that barn and turn it around to aim at the door, you’re going to have to slow down your fire based off of your ability to shoot and the size of that target.
“Or, if you have a single target at a shorter distance away and you either have a malfunction or run out of ammunition, we talk about whether it would be quicker to do a magazine change with your rifle or transition to your pistol to engage that target. Or, if it’s further away, do you have enough time to conduct a magazine change on your rifle and take that shot?”
The third day of Level II focuses on movement while shooting, whether it is lateral, forward or backward movement.
“We talk about … how your body reacts to the curvature of the ground and how you maintain recoil management as you go through,” Schacht said.
Day 4 has students conduct a short-ranger qualification and a night fire in advance of Day 5, which sees students go through critical task evaluations in a combat stress setting.
“We put them on a shot timer and grade them on several different things,” Schacht said. “There are different drills they must perform in time, such as a magazine change or engagement of a target.”
At the conclusion of Level II, students are certified to return to their units ready to teach SRM. That ability to leave the MMTC and teach the skills learned there is key to the course.
“The MMTC is designed to teach Soldiers not only to shoot, but how to shoot and how to coach,” said USAMU Command Sgt. Maj. Issac Ragusa. “You can see what’s wrong, correct what’s wrong and develop drills that will allow you to correctly instruct someone how to shoot and be accurate. … It teaches you how to coach, instruct, put together a training plan and create training that over a period of time will develop a more lethal force within your unit.”
Level II also builds the foundation for Level III – mid-range marksmanship.
“We use the pistol as a tool to drive home sight alignment and trigger control,” Schacht said. “That short sight radius magnifies any error you may have in your fundamentals. So, as they transition to a longer range from 300 to 600 meters, they will have more repetition on a short sight radius, so when they go to a long sight radius, it all comes together.”