In a period of just over ten years, the Marine Corps Combat Marksmanship Program has undergone several major revisions that significantly affect what Marines must do in order to earn their Rifle qualification, but one thing that has remained unchanged is the different rating badges that can be earned. Although the shooting requirements and scoring system has been modified, Marines still can earn either a Marksman, Sharpshooter or Expert rating qualification.

But earning any of these badges, and in particular the highly prized Expert rating, might prove a bit more challenging as the Corps adds an entirely new training table to the six that currently make up the Annual Rifle Training program: moving targets.

In a March, 2016 Marine Times story, the commander of the Marines’ Weapons Training Battalion noted that the Corps has been aware for “for years” that Marines have had difficulty successfully engaging moving targets. It is a problem that first gained prominence in the mid-1980s with the publication of an article titled “Neglected Areas of Marksmanship” in the Marine Corps Gazette. It recounted how a Viet Cong sniper had evaded an estimated 3,000 rounds of small-arms fire while making a “100-meter” dash through a rice paddy to the safety of a village.

Although Table 2 of the current Rifle qualification program features “moving” targets, they do not truly represent the challenges involved in +acquiring and engaging enemies actively evading fire by running, ducking, and dodging. This shortcoming is made evident in MARADMIN 113.16, which directs the Weapons Training Battalion to develop a table 7, “moving threat engagement,” for Marines to qualify to. But just what type of technology will be used to create lifelike conditions is problematic.

In 2016, the 1st Marine Division was testing the use of Autonomous Robotic Human Type Targets (ARHTT) to determine how closely they replicated the types of situations Marines might see in combat. But while ARHTTs are programmed to avoid obstacles, their wheeled design means they aren’t capable of performing the types of maneuvers likely to be used an enemy under fire, such as ducking or quickly changing directions.

For the time being, however, the minimum aggregate score required for a Marine to earn the Expert Rifle qualification is 305 out of 350, with up to 250 of those points coming on the KD or “known distance” Table 1 firing course.
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