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Marine Corps Rifle Qualification (2021)

The Marine Corps’ primary mission is “to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by …


The Marine Corps’ primary mission is “to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and to repel assault by fire and close combat during amphibious assaults and subsequent operations ashore”. In order to guarantee the success of this mission recruits must train for and test for their Marine Corps rifle qualification

Common to all Marines & recruits, the foundational skills required to achieve this mission is initially provided during Marine Corps Boot Camp. Well-trained Marines & recruits have the confidence required to deliver accurate fire under the most adverse battle conditions. The rifle is the primary means by which Marines & recruits accomplish their mission, and recruits will be tested on their proficiency with their rifle.


Grass Week

Before a recruit can shoot their rifle with real ammunition they must learn the fundamentals of marksmanship. Recruits will learn these fundamentals during Grass week at Marine Corps boot camp. 

During Grass week recruits will learn how their rifle functions, sight picture, sight alignment, trigger and breathing control, how to snap in and the various different shooting positions.

Grass week will be all about the fundamentals and it won’t be until the following week at the firing range that recruits fire a live weapon.

Firing Week

During Firing week recruits will be coached by a Combat Marksmanship Coach (CMC) for one and a half weeks on the Table 1 and 2 course of fire. The CMCs are on the front lines every day coaching your recruits to be proficient with the weapons that may save their lives in combat. 

During this week recruits will learn the four rifle range safety rules:

  1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
  2. Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  3. Keep finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  4. Keep weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

Firing week will give recruits the opportunity to put all of the fundamentals that they learned during Grass week into action. After training with their rifles for two and a half weeks, recruits will test for their Marine Corps rifle qualification.

Marine Corps Rifle Qualification Levels

“Marksmen” is the lowest score obtained, with a scoring range of 250-279

“Sharpshooter” is obtained with a combined score falling between 280-304

“Expert” is obtained with a combined score falling between 305-350

These rifle qualification scores are composites of the scores obtained on Tables 1 and 2.

Marine Corps Rifle Qualification Table 1

Table 1 is the known distance range and is comprised of three targets, each scored from 5 to 0 points (5, 4, 3, 2, Miss). Each recruit fires 50 shots for a maximum score of 250.

  • The “Able” target is 4ft x 6ft with a 12in bullseye and is used for slow fire at the 200 and 300 yard lines, from the sitting, kneeling and standing positions.
  • The “Dog” target looks vaguely like a person looking over a barricade. It’s on 6ft x 6ft paper and used for rapid fire (10 shots in 60 seconds) at the 200 and 300 yard lines, from the sitting and prone.
  • The “B-Modified” target is a human silhouette, also on a 6ft x 6ft paper, and used for slow fire at the 500 yard line from the prone.

At the 500 yard line the recruit is shooting at a target with just a sling for support. The rifle can not touch the ground or anything other than the shooter’s body.

Mastery of the fundamentals of marksmanship is the difference between a 5 and a miss. During the first two days of training, prior to qualification, there are coaches on the line helping recruits to improve their positions and master the techniques. On qualification day, it’s all on the recruit.

Marine Corps Rifle Qualification Table 2

Table 2 is combat marksmanship. It consists of 50 rounds (scored 2, 1 or miss), fired at a pair of silhouette targets from the 25 yard line.

The recruit earns:

  • 2 points per hit in the head, chest or pelvis
  • 1 point per hit elsewhere on target

After completing their Marine Corps rifle qualification, recruits well be basically trained with their rifles. Upon successful completion and graduation of boot camp, Marines will continue their training in marksmanship at the School of Infantry (SOI).

You can learn more about the events that happen during Marine boot camp, or what you need to know before you go to Marine boot camp.

The editorial team at Sandboxx.