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                  necessary. Shooters will receive two commands from the tower- enemy front, and lock and clear your weapons, and there could be up to four targets presented at a time. This iteration takes 3 minutes and 58 seconds to complete, and an entire company can complete the qualification in half a day.
During the new qualification train up, Trainees are introduced to their weapons immediately following their first 72 hours in BCT. This additional 72 hours (approximately) allows the Drill Sergeants more time for total weapons immersion safe handling, functions, implementation, magazine changes, introduction to barriers, and firing positions. The four fundamentals of weapons safety are stressed to the Trainees to ensure attention to detail is followed and discipline is properly instilled.
Data were reviewed from the Battalion’s ranges back to cycle 18-01. What was initially apparent was the consistency of expert-rated shooters was higher in M68 close combat optic qualification (20-30 percent) versus the backup iron sights qualification (low single-digit percentages). This was consistent for both the legacy qualification and the new rifle marksmanship qualification. In both the legacy and new qualification, the first time go rate of qualification for the M68 close combat optic for the Battalion was significantly higher than the backup iron sight (double-digit percentage points).
In cycle 20-02, Bravo Company conducted the legacy qualification with backup iron sights and
the new rifle marksmanship qualification with
the M68 close combat optic. The Drill Sergeants and Cadre found they were comfortable with the legacy qualification and could get all the Trainees through with ease. It was not complicated, and
the appropriate amount of time was allocated for training. The Drill Sergeants and Cadre found the Trainees struggled with a few of the essential tasks on the M68 close combat optic qualification for
the new rifle marksmanship pathway, specifically: workspace manipulation, transitioning through firing positions, and magazine changes. The first time they were introduced to the procedures was in the engagement skills trainer. There was not enough training and emphasis on the tasks throughout the entire cycle. The entire Battalion conducted the new rifle marksmanship qualification in cycles 20-03 and 20-04. The complete focus on these tasks and
the training methods were evident in the increased first time go rates.
The companies test whether qualifying with the M68 close combat optic or the backup iron sights produces a better first time go rate. The simple argument or difference presented by the Drill Sergeants and Cadre is as follows. Qualifying with the M68 close combat optic first allows Trainees who have never shot before to zero their weapon and then put the red dot in the proper location
to engage the target. It is a more straightforward task that the trainees can understand and execute, instead of initially qualifying with the backup iron sights where sight alignment and sight picture are critical for a first time go rate. It instills confidence in their ability to shoot. The opposite argument for qualifying with the backup iron sights first is
it teaches the Trainees the proper fundamentals
of shooting, allowing them to understand the dynamics of rifle marksmanship more fully. It shows the shooters where their errors are and how best to correct them.
One of the critical factors to Trainee discipline and proficiency is the Drill Sergeant. Drill Sergeants are trained in multiple military occupational specialties and have varying degrees of combat experience or weapons experience. Delta Company found when screening Cadre, the abilities that Leader brings with them to the organization on day one, including MOS, combat experience, schools, experience in teaching, patience, and articulating an idea to the lowest level, need to be considered. The number one instructor in basic combat training is the Drill Sergeant. The rifle marksmanship
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