Infantry: July 30, 2001


Infantry Begins Master Gunner Program- For more than a decade, Army tank and Bradley battalions have had a "Master Gunner", a senior sergeant whose one job was to continually improve the training in marksmanship for main-cannon gunners. They ran training courses, counseled those who could not measure up, and sought out the best cannon marksmen to become the next generation of Master Gunners. The infantry is now catching up with a pilot program in which 14 senior sergeants from the 82nd Airborne are charged with improving the night firing and marksmanship skills of the entire division. The 14 sergeants (one in each maneuver battalion, each brigade HQ, and at division HQ) have been told to create, and then implement, a program to teach everyone how to shoot better at night. The program may later be expanded to other divisions and to other types of marksmanship. A single sergeant, even with the title of Master Gunner, cannot individually teach every soldier how to shoot, but he can run classes that every soldier will attend, and provide intense training to the best marksmen (who will then train the rank-and-file) and the worst (those selected by their squad leaders as poor shots who need a little extra motivation). Master gunners also keep up on the latest techniques and technology for training marksmanship. Marksmanship is an obvious soldier skill often ignored in the real world (where the "spray and pray" theory is more common than it should be). Anyone with normal vision and coordination can be taught to shoot with reasonable accuracy if they can be motivated to adopt proper posture and technique. Every soldier shoots better if, while aiming each round, he hears the ghostly voice of his training sergeant screaming "sight picture!" in his ear.--Stephen V Cole


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