Improved BRM Training is introduced

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Incorporating potential improvements identified through earlier research, a revised BRM training program was developed and subsequently tested in 1979 with 1,151 male and female soldiers at Fort Jackson, SC.14 This program differed in four major ways from the standard BRM training existing at that time. First, it used a revised 25m zeroing target that was easier to understand.13 Second, scaled 25m silhouette target exercises were introduced to help increase the overall amount of performance feedback provided.15 Specifically, a slow fire target having six scaled silhouettes was designed to give trainees additional practice in marksmanship fundamentals prior to field firing. A timed fire target having ten scaled silhouettes was also designed to provide practice in the rapid application of marksmanship fundamentals prior to practice record fire. Third, downrange feedback exercises were used.13 Fourth, instructors emphasized a simplified set of four marksmanship fundamentals: steady position, aiming, breath control, and trigger squeeze.

Before this program was introduced, instructors emphasized over 20 teaching points to soldiers, including eight "steady hold" factors. This amount of information was too much for most soldiers to remember on the firing line and many of these teaching points had little influence on whether soldiers hit or missed a target. For example, controlled test firings with 60 M16A1 rifles drawn at random from the weapons pool at Fort Benning established that one of the most emphasized teaching points, sight alignment, had little influence on where rounds landed.15 In fact, improper sight alignment procedures were found to cause no more than six inches of error at 300m. In contrast, each of the four marksmanship fundamentals taught in the revised BRM program was critical to soldier success. Failure to properly perform any one of the four would likely cause a target to be missed.

Soldiers receiving the revised BRM training program at Fort Jackson achieved significantly higher record fire scores than those that did not.'4 During a period of additional refinement and testing, the revised BRM program was then provided to more than 8,000 initial entry soldiers at Fort Benning, with equal success. As a result, the Assistant Commandant of the USAIS, as proponent for rifle marksmanship training, officially approved the revised BRM program in 1980. It was subsequently implemented at all ATCs by 1982. The new training provided a substantial gain in performance, using only 60 hours of formal instruction and 386 rounds of ammunition per soldier. Following implementation, the average soldier could hit almost 75% of stationary personnel targets between 50m and 300m, compared to only 55% a few years earlier.5

Advanced Training for Infantrymen

Based on observation, participation, and informal instructor interviews, the ARM training program existing in 1981 was found to have three major problems.16' First, the scope of the program was limited, including only automatic fire and night fire training. Second, this training was largely inappropriate, from both instructional design and combat realism viewpoints (e.g., soldiers could increase their scores on any automatic fire scenario by firing in the semi-automatic mode). Third, performance feedback was severely limited. Although soldiers did fire rounds downrange at night, they could not see their targets, no scores were kept, and trainees never knew whether or not they hit any targets. When night vision scopes were available, they were not zeroed to their rifles.

In order to identify the most important marksmanship skills required of infantrymen that had not been taught in BRM, an extensive analysis of Army Training and Evaluation Programs (ARTEPs) for both the Infantry (ARTEP 7-15) and Mechanized Infantry (ARTEP 71-2) was conducted.16 From this analysis of the expected role of small arms in infantry missions, the tasks of quick fire, suppressive fire, and moving target engagement were identified for inclusion in a revised ARM training program at Fort Benning. The amount of automatic fire was greatly reduced, target exposure times were shortened, and some of the automatic firing was performed while wearing the protective mask. Night fire was improved through the use of artificial illumination and the use of zeroed night vision scopes.

A revised ARM program consisting of five periods of instruction was implemented at Fort Benning in 1982. It required 24 hours of formal instruction and 302 rounds of ammunition per soldier. Compared with the previous ARM program, the revised program provided more performance feedback to soldiers, through its more extensive use of paper targets on 25m ranges. The previous ARM program had been conducted almost exclusively on field fire ranges, which only provide "hit or miss" information about targets engaged.

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