FORT BENNING, Ga. -- In June 2014, during the Maneuver Warfighter Conference, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE, addressed an area many leaders in the operational Army had expressed concerns about - marksmanship.
"There have been studies in recent years that have shown that due to the War on Terrorism, marksmanship has degraded in the Army," said U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, or AMU, Command Sgt. Maj. Issac Ragusa. "There's been a need for us to develop and improve our leadership and teaching capabilities on how to teach people how to shoot."
In the months that followed, MCoE helped to launch the Master Marksmanship Training Course, also known as MMTC, a five-week effort intended to provide non-commissioned officers, or NCOs, with the knowledge and skill sets necessary to return to their units ready to teach and certify Soldiers in marksmanship.
The course is overseen by the Army Marksmanship Unit, with a transfer to the 316th Cavalry Brigade planned for either later this year or in 2016.
"The commanders in the force were saying they had a problem and they needed help fixing it," said Staff Sgt. Brian Schacht, assistant team chief for AMU's instructor training group. "Since Fort Benning is the institution for most infantry units, Maj. Gen. Miller understood there was a need out there. ... Who better to help with that need than AMU, who has the best shooters and experienced warfighters who have a lot to bring to the table?"
The MMTC is targeted primarily at mid-level NCOs, from sergeant to sergeant first class.
"We're targeting trainers specifically right now at the MCoE," Schacht said. "Maj. Gen. Miller's guidance has been to fix training of marksmanship, so what we've done is anyone that's a drill sergeant ... or anyone that has a role primarily as an instructor, we targeted them first."
Ragusa said drill sergeants have been a priority for the MMTC.
"We take it to that group because that group is going to contact our Soldiers as soon as they come in the Army," Ragusa said. "We want to bring them in, give them our course and have them take it back and teach the other drill sergeants who will teach the privates."
The course is comprised of four levels - basic rifle marksmanship, or BRM, short-range marksmanship, mid-range marksmanship and master trainer.
Level I, basic rifle marksmanship, is taught during the course's first two weeks. During Level I, students qualify with their weapons, take tests on rifle marksmanship and are taught rifle marksmanship classes. During those classes, students shoot from a variety of positions at distances ranging up to 300 meters.
"The first week, we really get down to the fundamentals," Schacht said. "We really harp on their positional work, and we break it down repetitively so they have to talk back to us about what the position is. We take them out to distance from 100 meters to 300 meters, and we do grouping drills.
"This shows them at distance that if their fundamental position is flawed, then their groups will open up. ... This is a good learning curve for the students so that they understand their fundamentals must be solid, which allows us to build the foundation for the next couple of levels."
Throughout Level I, students not only learn proper marksmanship fundamentals, but also take turns coaching one another on the use of those fundamentals.
"Overall, we're teaching them how to shoot and qualify, but on top of that we want them to become instructors and teach each other so they can go back to their units and instruct their units on how to run a BRM course and how to apply the fundamentals of marksmanship properly," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Klotz, a senior MMTC instructor with 316th Cavalry Brigade.
After completion of Level I, MMTC students advance to Level II, which covers mid-range marksmanship.