Coast Guard Marksmanship Qualification Course

Coast Guard seaman practices his marksmanship
Seaman Noah Jones, a crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis, attends a pistol proficiency class at Coast Guard Base Honolulu's armory on Oct. 18, 2012, in Hawaii. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto/U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard is unique in that you don't have to pass the weapons firing course in order to graduate from its basic training program. In order to finish Coast Guard basic, you just have to go through the course, not actually meet any particular qualification score.

Remember: If you fail to qualify during basic training and your Coast Guard job requires you to use weapons, you'll need to qualify before you can actually be assigned to those particular Coast Guard duties.

You begin by visiting the firing range, where a Coast Guard gunner's mate teaches you the fundamentals of firing the Sig Sauer P229 .40 Cal. pistol. At the firing range, you discover how to properly handle the weapon. Handling the weapon is followed by some dry firing and some shooting time on the computerized firing program. On the following Monday or Tuesday, you return to the range for the real thing.

Warning: Any violation of safety procedures will result in an immediate course failure, and you'll be required to return to the range within seven days to try again. See "Thinking about Weapons Safety" earlier in this chapter.

Like the Navy M9 pistol range, you fire a total of 48 rounds, at distances ranging from 3 yards to 15 yards. Different areas of the target are worth different numbers of points, ranging from 0 to 5 points each. In order to qualify, you must achieve a score of 114 to 128 points.

To be designated as a sharpshooter, you must score between 129 and 143 points. Those who achieve more than 143 points are designated an expert. Those who are certified as a sharpshooter or an expert are entitled to wear the Coast Guard pistol ribbon, with the appropriate device to indicate sharpshooter or expert status.

From Basic Training for Dummies, copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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