The Marine Corps Annual Rifle Qualification has remained relatively the same for the past century or so. The Annual Marine Corps Marksmanship Rifle qualification currently allows marines to gain a marksmanship badge that remains with them throughout their military career. By as early as 2021, Marines could be going through a drastically different qualification course that will test their marksmanship skills even further.

Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification

Changes coming to Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification

One of the first changes of the Annual Marksmanship Qualification is going to be the elimination of the seated position. According to Marine Corps officials, the seated position holds “no tactical value” and therefore it is being eliminated while other disciplines are being added.

One such addition is the allowance of supported positions instead of only a sling. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Anthony Viggiani is the current director of marksmanship for the Marine Corps and he had this to say about this addition to the Annual Rifle Qualification:

Marksmanship is not one-size-fits-all; each one of us different shapes and sizes, so we do not get behind a barricade or get down in a certain position in the same way … individuals need to understand what their capabilities and limitations are to best perform their duties.

Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification

Another area of change is going to be in the scoring of targets shot at during the course. Currently, any hit on a 500-yard B-Modified silhouette in the black is given a maximum score. Viggiani has said that this scoring system gives the Marine a false positive that they are actually putting down the target instead of only suppressing them.  With the updated scoring, the lethal zones of the targets will remain in the upper thorax and in the center of the head regardless of day or night time shooting conditions.

Essentially what this translates to is that only “destroy” shots will be counted. Normally in a competition, if a shot breaks the line of the next highest scoring portion it counts as that next highest score. Target pullers will now mark targets as one of four results, destroy, neutralize, suppress or miss.

Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the course is the equipment used. The entirety of the Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification course will be done with a helmet, body armor, and load-bearing equipment. On the first day of the three-day course, the marines will confirm zeros with their service rifles in the short bay, long bay, and night portions. The pre-qualification will take up day two and day three will be the host of the qualification portion of the course. Marines will not be able to “dress down” for any part of the course.

Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification

Other changes include the addition of moving targets to simulate more realistic battlefield expectations as well as the consolidation of the various targets down to a single black-shirted, skull cap, sunglasses and bearded, AK wielding target.

If the new course is approved by all the governing bodies up through the commandant, they could be implemented by as early as 2021.