What are the rules in the US Navy regarding rating a “higher” marksmanship ribbon and subsequently scoring a “lower” ribbon in subsequent quals? A US Navy Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor (SAMI) wishing to remain anonymous posted this.  Note this is the opinion of this SAMI but it illustrates the issues with determining shooting ability by reputation instead of by actual measure.

Going to the OPNAVINST 3591.1F, Para (18) Marksmanship Awards: a. A marksman, sharpshooter, or expert is a person in any grade or rating who qualified by firing the standard service pistol or rifle over one of the prescribed courses, and has attained the minimum qualification score for the specific marksmanship award. The duration of qualification as marksman, sharpshooter, or expert is indefinite.

THE COMMENTS BELOW ARE SOLELY MINE AND MAY DRIFT A BIT FROM THE TOPIC. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!

There are misconceptions and misunderstandings in this area since the many revisions to the Small Arms Training doctrine in the Navy. Changes in the definitions of terms for qualification, expert, course of fire in these re-writes have further confused the issue and prevented true understanding and recognition of skills earned in Navy small arms training.

The Navy Awards Manual (SECNAVINST 1650.1H) states, “(1) A marksmanship award is bestowed upon an individual for proficiency in a particular type of small arms. A marksman, sharpshooter, or expert is a member in any rank, rate, or rating who qualifies by firing the prescribed pistol or rifle over one of the Service prescribed courses and has attained the minimum qualifying score. (2) Qualification requirements and administrative procedures are set forth in OPNAVINST 3590.7(series) for Navy personnel and in Marine Corps Order P3590.13A for Marine Corps personnel.”
The SECNAVINST 1650 basically authorizes the award of the medal and its precedence in its wear. The SECNAVINST 1650 leaves the mechanics in the attainment of the award to the OPNAV 3590.7 Series.
Easy? Not at all. The OPNAVINST 3590.7C (most current) is a DoD Joint Regulation aka “Civilian Marksmanship: Rules and Regulations for National Matches and Other Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Matches. This OPNAV series has nothing to do with the needs of Navy Watchstanders or those required to be armed as part of their assigned duties. This instruction does not include the Navy Marksmanship Medal at all.

The proper reference for the day-to-day small arms training of Navy personnel is the “Small Arms Training and Qualification” (OPNAVINST 3591.1F). So even the Navy at the highest levels is a bit confused on the mechanics involved in earning NAVY marksmanship awards.
Going to the OPNAVINST 3591.1F, Para (18) Marksmanship Awards: a. A marksman, sharpshooter, or expert is a person in any grade or rating who qualified by firing the standard service pistol or rifle over one of the prescribed courses, and has attained the minimum qualification score for the specific marksmanship award. The duration of qualification as marksman, sharpshooter, or expert is indefinite.
That is the current policy concerning the Navy Marksmanship Medal.
INDEFINATE.
But let’s look back a bit. “Once upon a time…..”
The historic OPNAV 3591 policy was simple. Such as, “1. Purpose. To establish Navy policy and prescribe minimum requirements for individual small arms training and qualification per references (XXX) through (YYY). There was a set of “qualification courses” designed for watchstanding, mission and assignment requirements and a separate marksmanship course where the scores would entitle the wearing of a Navy Marksmanship Medal.

What has happened in the recent re-writes is the blurring and mixing of a qualification courses and the marksmanship course of fire. That qualification = marksmanship = medal. That all these symbols and terms are interchangeable and they are NOT.
The Marksmanship Medal has been reduced from a symbol of excellence to a symbol of meeting standards. This is not the same emphasis or respect other services attach to their Marksmanship Awards or Programs (i.e. United States Marine Corps).

Personnel would fire a Marksmanship course only after successfully completing their specific “qualification” or watchstander course of fire. The award would reflect the corresponding results of the Marksmanship course of fire. The individual would wear the Medal/ribbon for Marksman, add the bronze “S” for Sharpshooter or Silver “E” as appropriate. They would remove or add the attachment as a result of their most recent score on the Marksmanship course. If they failed to fire a minimum Marksmanship score, they would remove the Medal/ribbon from wear altogether. If they did not fire a course due to events beyond their control, (i.e. funding, training ammunition shortage), they would retain the existing status until the next scheduled course of fire.
The Marksmanship course of fire for the Navy issued service hand gun, (9mm semi-automatic pistol, .45 CAL semi-automatic pistol and .38 CAL revolver), was 3 relays of 10 rounds (2 magazines of 5 rounds each) at a distance of 25 yards from a standing or “free hand” stance. The magazines within the relays were timed. The 25 yard distance was established to correspond with the maximum effective range of the Navy service hand guns. This same Marksmanship course was used by all the services at one time. A universal standard and measurement that when successfully completed was symbolized by the appropriate Marksmanship award of that service.
In the current OPNAVINST 3591.1F there are four Qualification and Safety Criteria Categories (I-IV). In general, Category I personnel only need to complete the Navy Handgun Qualification Course (NHQC) annually to be “qualified” to carry their assigned type hand gun. This course of fire is 48 rounds, different positions/stances at a distance no further than 15 yards. This course of fire reflects the historic law enforcement distances for close quarter combat.
The Category II personnel must fire the Navy Handgun Qualification Course (NHQC), Handgun Lowlight Course and Handgun Practical Weapons Course HPWC) annually to be qualified. Of the 84 rounds required to complete all three of the CAT II courses of fire, ONLY 6 are beyond 15 yards!
Only the NHQC has a point value for each round. The Lowlight and HPWC are 12 out of 18 rounds anywhere on the silhouette.
Back to “qualification = marksmanship = medal”. A CAT I person fires 48 rounds gets a 228 or higher and is qualified and earns an Expert marksmanship medal. The CAT II person fires 48 rounds gets a 228 or higher and earns a Expert marksmanship medal, however, until the lowlight and HPWC are completed is NOT qualified by definition. How does 12 of 18 rounds support being called an EXPERT? If you lost 6 rounds in the NHQC as allowed in both the HPWC and Lowlight course of fire you CAN NOT achieve an EXPERT score.
So when you see any Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal what does it mean?
IT’s INDEFINATE!!!

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