Following a new range qualification program that saw a significant decrease in Marines achieving the highest-level shooting badge, the Marine Corps has adjusted its policy. Starting October 1, Marines who only achieve the marksman and sharpshooter badges will have two additional chances within the fiscal year to aim for the expert score. This move, proposed during the 2022 Combat Marksmanship Symposium, comes in response to the harder qualification introduced in 2021 that stressed more realistic combat scenarios.
- The new annual rifle qualification, introduced in October 2021, emphasizes real combat scenarios and requires Marines to don combat gear, shoot in sequence, and aim for specific “lethality zones” on humanoid targets.
- Under the previous qualification system, 65%-70% of Marines achieved expert status, but with the new program, this dropped to 25%-30%.
- Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joshua Grayek confirmed that the rate of unqualified classification has reduced significantly with the new system, dropping from 7.5% to just 0.7% in 2022.
- Despite concerns, Grayek dismissed claims that offering additional chances lowers standards, stating that the new program sharpshooters are more lethal compared to the previous experts.
- The new qualification process, which is cheaper than the legacy program, is not expected to increase costs for the Marine Corps, requiring fewer targets and less time.