An essential part of basic training for the United States Marine Corps is qualification with the M16 standard infantry rifle. A Marine's proficiency is recognised by the Rifle Marksmanship Badge. Marines usually qualify annually, but their first shot at being awarded the rifle badge is during basic training.
There are badges for the rifle and the pistol, each with three levels of proficiency: Marksman, Sharpshooter and Expert; Expert is the highest. A second bar for repeat Expert qualification can be awarded during a Marine's career.
The marksmanship badges are worn on the khaki service uniform, not the camouflage utilities. The badges are worn centred with the bottom edge of the badge bar an eighth of an inch above the top of the pocket. If worn with ribbons, the lowest row will be an eighth of an inch above the top of the bar. Once a level of badge is earned, it is worn until another level of proficiency is obtained. If a Marine does not qualify during an annual shoot, he loses his badge until he qualifies again.
Basic Training Marksmanship Qualification
Marine Corps basic training is 13 weeks long, broken up into three phases. Phase Two is focused on rifle training; during weeks 6 and 7, recruits learn weapon characteristics and operation and basic shooting fundamentals and techniques, and finally shoot for qualification.
Course of Fire
After training with the rifles for two weeks, recruits shoot on qualification day. The course of fire consists of multiple phases of firing at known distances of 200, 300 and 500 yards while using prone, kneeling, sitting and standing positions. Fifty rounds are fired, worth up to five points each, earning a maximum of 250 points. Shooters must score at least 190 to qualify as a marksman, 210 for sharpshooter and 220 for expert. Qualification outside of basic training requires the static known distance shoot and an additional tactical combat shoot, where the total scores for marksman, sharpshooter and expert become 250, 280 and 305 respectively.
The United States Marine Corps expects all Marines, no matter what their job speciality, to be riflemen first and take rifle training very seriously. All Marines must qualify to finish basic training and are expected to remain proficient with their primary weapon.
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