Optics added for entry-level rifle training – Marine Corps News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq – Marine Corps Times

In a significant reversal, the Marine Corps has begun using optics at entry-level training, and could do so on a permanent basis beginning next year.

The scopes will be used by recruits based at Parris Island, S.C., and San Diego beginning in July as part of a pilot program, said Col. Timothy Armstrong, head of Weapons Training Battalion based here. Two companies of new lieutenants here at The Basic School already have trained with them, and shown dramatic improvements in how they shoot, Marine officials said.

via Optics added for entry-level rifle training – Marine Corps News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq – Marine Corps Times.

I can just imagine the howls of protest from the traditionalists in the Marine Corps.

And while iron sights are far less prone to breakage than combat optics, the old rule of “train as you fight” makes sense here. Damn near every weapon in theater other than pistols has an optical sight on it. Might as well train troops from the start to use them.

I’m a lousy shot. My right eye is about 20/200 on a good day. And while glasses improve that somewhat, glasses also get fogged over, or have sweat and dust on them whenever I shoot. So anything beyond about 100m is just a blur to me when looked at through iron sights. Any real precision shooting is a great challenge for me.  Optics make it a lot easier to me to shoot reasonably well. Of course, the 10x ISU on a Bradley made things a LOT easier…

URR, you’re our resident Marine commentator. What say you?



16 thoughts on “Optics added for entry-level rifle training – Marine Corps News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq – Marine Corps Times”

  1. For myself, I can shoot pretty well left-handed (left-eyed, more accurately) but I’m so completely left-eye dominant that I can’t shoot a rifle for shit right-handed. It’s just not even worth trying, unless I have some sort of magnification going on.

  2. I know what you mean about the glasses. I’m about 20/40 on vison. I could see the 300m target, but it was fuzzy as hell. The 200m and closer were clear enough, but if I tried wearing my BCGs on the range (at Ft. Jackson in the middle of the lava summers they have) they’d quickly fog up and I couldn’t see a blessed thing. So, better a blurry 250m and 300m than nothing.

  3. Until I started getting old, I had slightly better than 20/20, and if I properly zeroed, could hit almost anything out to 400m, either left or right handed. Now, I have to have an optical site for anything beyond 150m. This is such a good idea, all of the services should have started it years ago.

  4. If you thought your glasses steamed up before… Try shooting from prone with current body armor and helmet on. With glasses on (and everyone wears eyepro now) it is essentially impossible to align your rifle, optics, glassses, brim of helmet, and eyeball all up with the target unless you arch your back so much that it cramps up. The anger you instantly feel fogs your glasses up faster than the mist rolls in on any horror movie. Gauranteed to be one of the most frustrating events of your life. Shooting just isn’t fun anymore… That said, the army is way behind in training to employ these optics; especially the ACOG which is awesome, but pretty rough to zero without a lot of repetition. I suspect that on any given day, many people with an ACOG on would not consistently hit what they aimed at. At 4x, it is great to scan with, though. It sucks on a range, though, when engaging the closer targets as it is slow to pick them up.

    1. I haven’t shot with an ACOG before, but I’ve used a variety of different AR-15 and M-16 platforms, with irons and / or a variety of optical and electro-optical sights. What is it about the ACOG specifically that makes it difficult to zero and get repeatable results with?

    2. The reticle is, in a word, complex. It also should not be zeroed on a 25m range as with iron or CCO, so you wind up doing a little bit of extrapolation. Then, on the range, the relatively narrow field of view combined with 4x mag makes it difficult to rapidly aquire close-in targets. It is great for scanning rooftops at longer ranges, though. I used one in Iraq, and fired on ranges enough to know I would hit what I aimed at, but kind of prefer an M68 aimpoint style site for its simplicity.

  5. Not to sound like a product advertisement, but the world of marksmanship training ain’t the same as it was in the 20th century.

    I had an opportunity to use “Beamhit” an number of years ago. It was basically an electronic target with laser pointers and instant visual/audio feedback. We used it to teach Boy Scouts to shoot over iron sights. In the normal method, you explain everything and evaluate based on the grouping afterwards. With this stuff, any 11-year-old could figure out what he’d done wrong because he could see instantly where his shot would have hit.

    Now it’s an entire product line from L-3 ( http://beamhit.com/Products/LaserMarksmanshipTrainingSystemsLMTS/tabid/872/Default.aspx ). I worked for them until last month doing software development with no relation to that part of the business, so I just found out that they’re the ones who sell it today.

    So training over iron sights or with optics is not nearly as hard as it used to be.

  6. I would like to see both rifle marksmanship methods taught. Firing over iron sights gives you the fundamentals of marksmanship, which is something that electronics enhance rather than replace. However, the curriculum at Parris Island is always packed to the gills, so it becomes an either-or, I am afraid.

    If I had my druthers, I would teach basic marksmanship with iron sights, and introduce ACOGs on “A-line” at Parris Island (where there are other weapons fams), and then build the package at School of Infantry around using ACOGs.

    Electronics fail, break, run out of power, etc. You gotta be deadly proficient with, and without.

    My two cents.

    1. An ACOG is not electronic. It is a tritium solar powered illuminated reticle. I am a huge fan of the ACOG, but Iron Sights introduce basic marksmanship in a better fashion. My solution is this: Zeroing on the Iron Sighs, then once the trainee has successfully zeroed, Zero the ACOG. Qual should be with the optic.

      I heartily disagree with Esli about the complexity of the reticle, and the difficulty of scanning for targets. I train my soldiers to scan with both eyes open, then acquire the target. There is also a very useful appendix in the most recent rifle marksmanship FM that goes step-by-step how to zero both the M68 and the ACOG on the 25 meter zero target.

    2. I don’t think the reticle is overly complex. I mean, I’ve shot stadia reticles from a Bradley, and that wasn’t rocket science.

      I’ve never shot the ACOG, but I’ve shot enough scoped rifles to know that acquiring a target when the scope is cranked up to 4x is more difficult than a unity sight. As M1A1TrkTrror notes, there are techniques you can use, but even so, it takes time to do so, and practice. Still, I’d rather have the ACOG than just iron sights, especially with most troops fighting in A-stan facing longer range engagements.

      I’ll try to keep an eye out for a followup article and see what they say about rifle marksmanship scores for the folks that start with optics.

    3. Okay complex is a relative term. Compared to an M68 it is and guys that get to the range a couple times a year plus some reflexive fire don’t get it. Part of this crowd are those same guys that have a surefire a PEQ and an ACOG on their rifle and if you actually used them they are pointing in four different directions. I’ll need to check out that zero section in the new FM myself. I’ll be frank; I used one in Iraq and hit range targetry at ranges under maybe 150m. When I actually got back CONUS and used it on a quality range I shot worse than I ever have since 1986. I took it off and put a 68 back on. Will change back in next job if I have time to get it down! An M68 is intuitive and an ACOG is not. But an ACOG offers incredible capabilities particularly for SDMs. Senior leaders use them as an optic but I contend they don’t take the time to get good with them.

    4. Acogs are battery free! They use tritium lamps and fiber optics to make them glow. I do agree that they should be familiarized with both though.

  7. Teaching any kind of shooting, with scopes, ACOGs, or techniques like reaction shooting, before mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship, invariably proves to be a difficult proposition. It’s like trying to teach someone to hit a curveball before you teach him how to hit.

    The ACOG was very effective in Iraq because it was in the hands of proficient riflemen who were good with their weapons. The ACOG does not MAKE you a proficient rifleman.

    Only in the hands of someone who has mastered the fundamentals of marksmanship can the ACOG be the combat multiplier it is capable of being.

  8. I totally disagree with everyone, I qualed with the ACOG (TBS) at 310 and Iron sights at 318 (Fleet). The exact same fundamentals apply to both so why does it take one or the other to learn? If you learn sight alightment, sight picture, trigger control, good positions, natural point of rest…etc nothing changes. To hear the old timers talk is similar to the comments from the old Gunny’s and Master Sgts about how you cant do drill with the M4, or press your Marpat. Its call change and generally speaking when the Corps changes, it does so for the better. The USMC of today would destroy the USMC of 1945, 1990, or 2003 for that matter. Change is good, as a leader I could careless about sleeves being rolled or not (rant), I care about combat effectiveness.

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