Soldiers will fail

On average, half of all Soldiers will fail the .40 rifle IWQ. 

If units do not change their current approach to weapons training and qualification, that is what will happen.

Recently, the United State Army adopted new individual weapon training and qualification standards, published in Training Circular (TC) 3-20.40, Individual Weapons Training & Qualification.

Based on data collected from across an active duty Airborne Division, hit probabilities for targets at all distances was calculated* (Fig. 1).

Hit Percentage

Taking the .40 rifle IWQ target presentation data, an approximation of average shooter performance can be determined based on the number of targets at various distances multiplied by that distance’s hit probability (Table 1).

Predicted Performance

Predicted Performance:  Most Soldiers Will Not Qualify

On average, the predicted performance is 21 hits, out of 40 possible:  Unqualified.

Furthermore, this result is optimistic. The new qualification introduces complicating conditions that will further degrade shooter performance: new firing positions, greater urgency, time pressure, no tower commands, magazine changes without leader/tower prompting, position changes without leader/tower prompting, no alibis given to shooters.

If units do not change their approach to IWQ and individual weapons training, units and Soldiers will fail.

BUT, there is a solution. Leaders must train to standard. Soldiers must put forth disciplined and intentional practice. The training template must be adhered to. The PMI Evaluation must not be a ridiculously easy event without truly relevant knowledge assessment. Drills must be taught, trained, and assessed with rigor. Grouping standards must be mercilessly validated by Leaders. Proper ballistic offsets for 25m must be understood. Zeros must be properly confirmed at distance.

Leaders, you are the Soldier trainer. If you don’t understand every element of the above, your Soldiers will suffer.

Soldiers, you are responsible for your performance. If you don’t care to understand every element of the above, why should anyone else? These are your promotion points. These are your life saving skills. 

The requirements, conduct and standards for all these events can be found in TC 3-20.40, freely available without CAC on the Army Publishing Directorate website.

The Master Marksmanship Trainer Course at FBGA, the Small Arms Weapons Expert course at NGMTC, the TAG Match (AKA, “California Combat Match” in California), and local Troop Schools (The “Unit Marksmanship Trainer Course” in the CAARNG) are all available to increase the individual skills of your Soldiers. 

If you aren’t sending Soldiers to these events, reading the relevant TCs, rehearsing events, practicing the Drills, training the PMI&E knowledge, maximizing EST or S/SVT opportunities, and brutally adhering to standards, you will not find success going forward. 

* ETA: To be clear, the bar graph with hit probabilities was generated from shooter performance while conducting the old rifle qualification, not the new qualification as found in TC 3-20.40.

Ian Tashima
Ian Tashima spent 8 years in the Marine Corps as an Intelligence Analyst, and a further 11 years in the Army National Guard as an Infantryman and Civil Affairs NCO. During the Global War on Terror, Ian voluntarily deployed to Afghanistan 3 times and once to Iraq. Further assignments & duty positions include Combat Advisor (ETT & SFAT), Tactical Electronic Warfare Specialist, Counter Radio Controlled IED Electronic Warfare NCO, AntiTerrorism Officer, senior small arms trainer, Assistant State Marksmanship Coordinator and Program Manager for the Designated Marksman, Small Arms Firing School, and Unit Marksmanship Trainer Courses. Currently serves as a Senior Weapons Trainer and Lead Instructional Program Developer for G3 Sustainment Training Branch (Marksmanship) and OCS Instructor at the 223rd Regional Training Institute in the CAARNG, Training Director at Alliant Defense and Editor/Author at Lethality Ranch.
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