The Coast Guard Expert Rifleman Medal is awarded to personnel who qualify at the Marksman level over a course of fire prescribed by regulations. Qualifying must be performed using a service rifle and under certain constraints such as time limits, firing positions, and limited number of rounds.

Guardsmen who qualify as a Sharpshooter will receive both the ribbon and a silver “S” device to denote their qualification level. Coast Guard personnel who score at the Expert level are awarded an Expert Rifleman medal, as well as an “E” device for wear on the Rifle Marksmanship ribbon; the “E” device may not be worn on the suspension ribbon of the medal. All marksmanship awards are permanent, but Guardsmen who earn the Marksman or Sharpshooter qualification can have their decorations upgraded when they achieve a higher qualifying score; their decorations are not reduced should they fire a lower qualifying score after earning one of the three qualifications.

Information regarding qualification requirements, including the Course of Fire and scoring parameters for the various qualification levels, are found in the Ordnance Manual (COMDTINST M8000.2 series). Unfortunately for those interested in the specifics of what’s required for each level of marksmanship, this document is marked For Official Use Only (FOUO) and is not publicly available. Various sources on the Internet state that a score of 285 out of a possible 300 is required to earn the Expert medal. The 1971 M16 Rifle Course, in contrast, had a total possible score of 250 and required 225 for Expert qualification. In 1976, the course was modified to save on ammunition costs; a total of 52 rounds were fired (not counting zeroing), with a score of 175 required for Expert qualification.

The rifle used in qualifying is either the M16A2 or the M4 Carbine.

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