“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

– Alvin Toffler

Small arms and marksmanship was a primary motivation for enlisting back in 1990. I didn’t know what shooting programs the Army offered but I was willing to join to find out. I was competing in civilian events on my own but, due to a lack of promotion and support, it took me some time to locate equivalent Army marksmanship teams. I finally found the Small Arms Training Team and USAR Shooting Team and my previous civilian shooting experience allowed me to join immediately. After five years of shooting team and instruction experience in a reserve capacity I was put on active duty teaching and shooting small arms full time from 2003 -2010. Despite reverting to a reserve status, marksmanship, instruction and competition remains the primary focus of my military career.

During my active duty time alone I have personally worked with nearly 30,000 personnel on small arms and marksmanship training in some capacity.  My NCOER during my 20 months at Camp Shelby alone notes that our team provided training for 17,000 personnel during classroom and range instruction.

Anytime you hear someone complaining about “the book”, just remember this: The FM (3.22-9 in this case) may not be the best training manual ever written, but it sure beats what the Army is using on the range! Among the biggest problems is the proliferation of “tribal wisdom”, the re-telling of nonsense by non-shooters who won’t bother to research before opening their mouth.

I am convinced that if military personnel assigned duties on ranges merely bothered to read the FM first (even if they need a tutor for the big words) rather than regurgitating fables they heard from their drill sergeant, qualification rates would sky rocket.

So many people pretend to instruct yet have zero useful experience. As Toffler said, the illiterate of today are those that won’t relearn. The Army enforces this illiteracy in marksmanship! Note that the standard of qualification is the same RETS “pop up” course for a recruit in IET as it is for an NCO with twenty years in. Retaking the same third-grade arithmetic test for twenty years will never teach you Calculus.