Old School: Army Recruits Will Again Test On Iron Sights During Basic Training
By JEFF SCHOGOL on June 4, 2018
For the first time in three years, Army recruits will have to pass a marksmanship test during basic training using only the backup iron sights for the M16 rifles and M4 carbines, officials said.
“The test consists of a 40-round engagement at multiple targets at ranges from 50 meters to 300 meters – sometimes one target at a time; sometimes multiple targets at a time – in multiple positions: kneeling, prone supported, and prone unsupported,” Wayne Marken, of the Army’s Leader Training Brigade, told Task & Purpose.
Army recruits used only iron sights during basic training until 2015, when Army switched to the close combat optic which allows soldiers to to aim with the benefit of a built-in red dot centered on a target when they look through the scope, officials told Task & Purpose.
“In 2015, we stopped doing the rifle marksmanship test itself for the iron sights and only did it for the CCO – they did all training up until then but they only tested on the CCO,” said Marken, director of quality assurance for the brigade. “Now, they will test on both the CCO and the iron sights.”
Although the Army offers a range of optics for rifles and carbines, including thermal sights, soldiers will have to rely on their iron sites if their battery dies or if the enemy can jam the close combat optic in an increasingly crowded electronic warfare environment, said Fernando Guadalupe Jr., commander of the Leader Training Brigade.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers often found themselves in close quarters fighters, which drove the Army to make training on the close combat optic a priority, Guadalupe said. Now the Army is training soldiers to fight in “technologically degraded environment[s]” where enemies can launch electronic warfare attacks, rendering high-tech gear useless, he said.
“We want to make sure that the soldier can quickly shift back to the mechanism that is a permanent part of that weapons system, the backup iron sights,” Guadalupe said.
The Army does not currently have any data to suggest that any soldiers have been unable to hit their targets in combat because their close combat optics failed and they were not trained enough on how to use their iron sights, he said.
Military.com first reported on May 18 that the Army was increasing training on iron sights as part of a wider effort to make soldiers better at marksmanship during basic training.
Starting in October, all Army recruits will fire 600 rounds during 92 hours on the range, compared with the 500 rounds that recruits currently fire during 83 hours of marksmanship instruction, said Thriso Hamilton, the brigade’s specialist for basic training.
The Army has also added a “battle, march, and shoot” drill at the end of The Forge, the 81-hour culminating event of basic training, Hamilton said. Soldiers march four miles without a rest at a pace of 17-to-18-minutes-per-mile before heading to the range, doing 25 pushups, and then firing off 40 rounds.
Each platoon is timed and soldiers earn or are deducted points based on their march times, how accurately they shoot, and if they have the correct equipment that is supposed to be in their rucksacks, he said.
Army recruits at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, have already gone through the “battle, march, and shoot,” and all Army bases that host basic training will include the event starting by October, Guadalupe said. Having the event at the end of the Forge will test soldier’s ability shoot accurately while weakened physically from relentless combat training over the past four days. It also instills in soldiers the need to ensure their weapons are in working order.
“That event at the end also makes it a key, essential part of training: ‘I’ve got to take care of my weapon and make sure I don’t damage it or I don’t change the sights on it, which I grouped and zeroed with, because at the end of it I have to travel certain distances and engage targets – and do it effectively – for me to complete The Forge,’” Guadalupe said.
Went through basic in 2009, got out of the army in 2012. I never heard o them not using irons.. I did hear from a new private right before I got out that they stopped wearing their battle rattle at the range which is just stupid
I don’t care if they qual with irons or not. However, going from 500 to 600 RDS and adding 7 hrs for marksmanship is a good thing!
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Sounds like a solid plan. Your rifle is your life.
Surprised they stopped shooting irons at some point but then again the M68 was secret squirrel spytech when I joined.
Its just like anything else, having a gps doesnt mean you shouldnt know how to use a map and compass.
I did point out once that it was funny we practiced running constantly but only shot about once per trimester.
Short of an EMP attack, how in the hell could you "jam" and RDS??
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
- Jim Elliot
I started shooting long before red dot optics were popular, but still have never understood this argument. The alignment of the barrel in relation to the target and movement due to breath control, lack of stability or poor trigger control is not dependent on the sighting mechanism. Please help me understand.
Jam... the lens, full of dirt, mud or worse.
Sliced bread, the greatest thing since the 1911.
I have seen m4’s dropped from the roof of a truck and land on concrete and directly on the sight. The 68 was marked up but it worked fine. But I still think that was pure luck. Shit happens and you should know how to use irons. Batteries can die, I’ve seen mounts come loose because nobody ever torques them. And a good 80-90% of these kids have never shot a gun let alone an AR type rifle outside of the army. I was amazed when we had a shot gun range and nobody but me and one or two others knew how to disassemble a Remington 870/mossberg.. (our unit had both)
First the Army brings back Drill Sergeants to AIT and now this. Imagine that, getting back to the basics of soldiering!
People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election. - Otto von Bismarck
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outta the oven!
Wait, what? When did they go away?
I had a Drill Sergeant in AIT fresh out of the Rangers in 1991, that SOB was mean and used to love running us until we were about to drop. I actually thought AIT was TOUGHER than Basic.
My AIT (1976) was most definitely harder than my Basic. Basic (Ft. Leonard Wood) seemed kinda like scout camp.
"Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." -Jeff Cooper
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EMP won't hurt a red dot. Things like long transmission electric lines will see spikes of current.
I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing to understand how to use iron sights, I enjoy using them while squirrel hunting for the challenge.
Our fighting men deserve the best damn optics available because frankly optics are so far superior to iron sights it isn't even funny.
Aimpoints and ACOGs for everyone. Variables to the guys who want them as well, in specific circumstances.
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