Photo Information

Marines with Combat Marksmanship Coaches Reserve conduct the new Annual Rifle Qualification at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 21, 2021. The CMCR students are the first to qualify as Combat Marksmanship Coaches under the new ARQ that will soon be implemented across the Marine Corps Total Force. The new ARQ ensures that every Marine is a rifleman, testing Marines’ basic marksmanship skills and ability to effectively engage targets in combat shooting scenarios.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay

The Big Change

4 Oct 2021 | Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay Marine Corps Forces Reserves

Marines attending the Combat Marksmanship Coaches Reserve Course Fiscal Year 21 participated in one of the first iterations of the Marine Corps’ new Annual Rifle Qualification to qualify as Combat Marksmanship Coaches, September 20-25, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

This course provides marksmanship coaches with the necessary tools and confidence to teach Marines the new course of fire and help increase lethality across the Marine Corps Total Force.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I can go back and teach my Marines how to effectively shoot this course of fire and have them come out as a better marksman,” said Cpl. Kyle Kupkufske, a student attending the course.

These students are some of the first Marines to learn and execute the new course of fire, which was changed to simulate the mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad: to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver or to repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat.

 “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I can go back and teach my Marines how to effectively shoot this course of fire and have them come out as a better marksman.” Cpl. Kyle Kupkufske, a student attending the course

Previously, Marines engaged targets from various distances in static shooting positions including sitting, kneeling and standing. The new ARQ seeks to challenge Marines to effectively engage targets in a limited amount of time from 500 yards down to 15 yards. It also now allows Marines to rest their weapon on barricades while engaging targets, but requires Marines to hit moving targets from the 200 and 300 yard line.

“During the previous rifle qualification, you started at the 200 yard line and worked your way back to the 500 (yard line),” said SSgt. Martin Lucero, an Instructor/Competitor with the Marine Forces Reserve Marksmanship Training Unit. “With the new annual rifle qual, you start at the 500 (yard line) and work your way down to the 15 yard line.”

The new ARQ also brings about change in the way Marines are evaluated and scored. Instead of receiving a score ranging from one and five depending on where a round impacted the target, Marines are graded on the likely effect their shots would have on a target in combat.

“During annual rifle training you would receive a score out of 250 points for table one. You would add up your points and you would find out where you fall in the course as far as marksman, sharpshooter or expert,” said Lucero. “For ARQ, you receive destroys for the 500 (yard line) all the way to the 25 yard headshots; you either destroy, neutralize or you suppress the threat.”


Annual Rifle Qualification Photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay

For a shot to be considered a “destroy,” the round must hit the marked area on the chest or face of the target. A “neutralize” shot means the round hit the target in the circle surrounding the center mass. A “suppress” shot means the round hit outside of both the center mass and the surrounding circle.

Marines will still receive an evaluation of marksman, sharpshooter or expert based on how many “destroys” they administer on their targets.

While the previous rifle qualification taught and tested Marines on the basics of marksmanship, the new qualification will increase lethality across the force, staying true to the slogan “every Marine is a rifleman.”

“After receiving this training and conducting this qualification, there is no doubt about it, every Marine will be more lethal in combat,” said Lucero.