U.S. ARMY SHARPSHOOTER BADGE

To earn the U.S. Army’s Sharpshooter Badge, Soldiers must earn a score of between 30 and 35 points out of 40 rounds fired, with a point awarded for hitting any point on the target. Twenty of the rounds are fired from a supported position, either prone or in a foxhole, and ten rounds are fired from two unsupported positions (kneeling or prone).

In response to declining numbers of soldiers qualifying as Sharpshooters with Rifles and Pistols, the Army introduced the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course in 2014 to train NCOs who in turn teach marksmanship skills to Soldiers. In an early test of the efficacy of the MMTC, the Army compared the performance of a unit that had altered its marksmanship training methods and brought in MMTC-certified trainers. The change in qualification ratings was dramatic. Before the introduction of the new strategies and trainers, 52 percent of the Soldier qualified at the minimum level of Marksman, contrasted with 54 percent qualifying as Sharpshooters and 34 percent as Experts after the switch had been made.

The MMTC course lasts five weeks, and over that period the NCOs who will end up teaching Marksmanship skills will fire in excess of 3,000 rounds of 5.56 ammo and more than 700 rounds of 9mm pistol ammo. Since its inception in, over 230 NCOs have successfully completed the training program. The MMTC is hosted by the 316th Cavalry Brigade, which is also tasked with running Master Gunner and Sniper Schools. The Brigade works under the auspices of the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU).

Part of the cause for declining marksmanship scores was numerous deployments, which left Soldiers little time to focus on a skill that many took for granted—and marksmanship is most definitely a trainable skill. By teaching NCOs not necessarily how to shoot but how to teach shooting, the AMU can leverage the costs and time involved in the MMTC program. Currently, the 316th Cavalry Brigade can host up to 15 MMTC courses a year, each with 30 students; the main expense is ammunition, which runs around $50,000 per course.
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