NEWS | April 16, 2021

Army Reserve space battalion takes aim at new Army weapons qualification

By Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Rognstad 1st Space Brigade

Soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve 2nd Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, the Army’s only Reserve space battalion, tested the Army’s new rifle marksmanship standards that cuts time to shoot, introduces magazine and shooting position drills, and throws in a barricade to shoot through and lean against.

It was the battalion’s first time shooting on the new standards, geared to simulate more realistic combat shooting.

“It was definitely a learning process,” said Maj. David Rossheim, commander of 6th Space Company, 2nd Space Battalion. “However, I believe the new qualification table is a much better representation of the skills that Soldiers need to develop with their assigned weapon and a positive step towards increasing Soldier proficiency with the M4 (rifle). The inclusion of changing positions and active reloading into the qualification are the types of actions that Soldiers will need to execute down range.”

Spc. Lance Erickson, a generator mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, shot a 23 out of 40 on his first qualification attempt, which is the least amount of target hits possible to qualify on the M4 rifle.

“I like it more than the old qualification,” Erickson said. “The integration of the movements is going to help Soldiers out. Rather than just being stagnant and having someone tell you to switch positions, which you do have a decent amount of time to do, you now have to do this on your own. The hardest part is though, if you don’t change out your magazine while you are changing positions, it could be a cause for failure.”

Sgt. Barry Heffner, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic, qualified on his first go round shooting, and also prefers the new table qualification over the old.

“You have more control in that you can lean against the wall to have that supported position, which makes it easier to fire down the lane,” he said. “As long as you pay attention, or you have someone around you that is paying attention, the change-over with magazines is simple, but not having any familiarity with this new qualification, I could see some Soldiers struggling with it.”

Heffner added that the magazine change-over will assist more in a combat scenario than the old table, which didn’t allow for such an action.

A Deputy Team Leader in 3rd Space Company, 1st Lt. Elliot Austin, agrees, but said the new table is going to take some practice for him to get used to. Having come just off his firing lane, he was unsure if he qualified on his first go.

“I thought it was a big challenge, but I can see how it carries over well to a real-world operating environment,” he said. “It’s incredibly functional and really relevant to any kind of shooting you’d be doing downrange. For a first-time event, the battalion did a really good job of putting it together, and it has gone really smooth.”

The Soldiers will continue to train on the new table and marksmanship fundamentals for the next range scheduled for later this year.

Information about the new qualification standards can be found in TC 3-20.40 “Training and Qualification Individual Weapons.”