Foggy Rifle Range Memory

Calling Marines of 1958 PI boot camp era: can anyone remember and provide the rifle range details for this old Marine, obviously now in his mid-seventies who, much to my dismay, is having difficulty recalling the exact firing protocol for each position with our M1’s back in the day? Specifically, what the did we shoot in the four positions of offhand, kneeling, sitting and prone? This is all I remember (I think): 100 yds. offhand; either 200 and/or 300 yds. kneeling and sitting; and pretty sure we did prone at 500 yards. Which positions and associated distances were shot in slow fire and which in rapid fire? Referring to the USMC Manual of the day yielded zero results. Your help to answer these nagging questions will be very much appreciated. Semper Fi to all brother and sister Marines.

Lionel “Leo” Caldeira – Cpl.
’58-’62: 3rd MarDiv; 1st MarDiv

10 thoughts on “Foggy Rifle Range Memory”

  1. Leo, I checked the internet, and found some information. It is mostly what I remember from Weeks 4,5 & 6 of recruit training. I’m close to your age (72) and qualified the first time in March of 1962, using the M-1 Garand. Phase 3: Firing week

    During firing week, you actually get to fire your weapon for the first time. The week begins with practice on the firing range. Half of your platoon will fire the weapon, while the other half sets up targets. Then you swap.

    The course of fire includes shooting at targets that are 200, 300, and 500 yards away from the prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing positions. It’s interesting to note that the Marine Corps is the only branch that has recruits shooting from distances as far as 500 yards away.

    At the end of the week, you get a chance to fire on the actual qualification course. The course is the same as the one you used in practice, but this time, it counts. If you fail to qualify, you won’t proceed in basic training with the rest of platoon. You’ll be sent back to complete rifle instruction all over again, thereby delaying your graduation date
    Phase 3: Firing week

    During firing week, you actually get to fire your weapon for the first time. The week begins with practice on the firing range. Half of your platoon will fire the weapon, while the other half sets up targets. Then you swap.

    The course of fire includes shooting at targets that are 200, 300, and 500 yards away from the prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing positions. It’s interesting to note that the Marine Corps is the only branch that has recruits shooting from distances as far as 500 yards away.

    At the end of the week, you get a chance to fire on the actual qualification course. The course is the same as the one you used in practice, but this time, it counts. If you fail to qualify, you won’t proceed in basic training with the rest of your platoon. You’ll be sent back to complete rifle instruction all over again, thereby delaying your graduation date.

    In order to qualify, you fire a total of 50 rounds, worth up to 5 points each (depending on where you hit the target). The maximum possible points you can earn on this course is 250. To pass the course, you must earn at least 190 points, which will qualify you to wear the Marine Corps marksmanship badge. To become a sharpshooter, you must earn at least 210 points. In order to win status as an Expert, you must receive a score of at least 220 points.
    I did some searching on the Internet, and found the information is somewhat incomplete. It’s like what is above. However I did find information about the procedure. First: From the 200 yard distance, There was 10 rounds at the off-hand position, and then 10 rounds kneeling. Next: From 300 yards, 10 rounds sitting and 10 rounds prone. Some where in this, there was a timed firing requirement. 2 rounds in a clip and then a full clip of 8. When I requalified with the M-14, it was 2 rounds in a magazine, then 8 rounds in the second magazine. Lastly: 500 yards, 10 rounds in the prone position. After finishing at the 500 range, there was waiting for the ‘official score keepers’ numbers. I sure hope this info helps. I was a llttle fuzzy on rifle qualification too. I talked with my son after he had finished at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, CA but that was in 1988, and my memory is only as good as my smart phone, note book or asking my wife. She’s got a spectacular memory for all I’ve done in the past 48 plus years. FYI, I’m served from Feb 1, 1962 to May 31, 1966. VietNam service August 64 to Feb 65. “A Vietnam Veteran, before it became popular” to quote one of Sgt Grit’s Bumper Stickers.

    1. Thanks Dale, the detailed info you provided is very much appreciated. It did jog my memory enough to where I was able to remember a lot of what you described. For some reason I recall on qualification day shooting rapid-fire prone, I thought at 500 yards, but maybe though it was 300 yards as Bill (below) refers to. To make Expert, in what I remember was the last shooting position where your final score would then be tallied and the outcome revealed, I needed all ten shots in the white (referred to as “possibles” at PI in my day). Naturally, this maggot was very apprehensive and remembers being under much duress of a time-limit to crank off the 10 rounds to make them count. I managed to settle down and was ultimately surprised at my ability to squeeze off all ten in the middle, thereby securing my Expert badge, which I held for the remainder of my time. And aren’t wives wonderful? Mine is similar; she’s kept a mental log of everything I’ve done (and not done) for the last 53 years, while I do remember getting married. No smart phone, only have my 7 year old cell phone, which still works as well as my 5 year old laptop, so far. Your VietNam time is sincerely appreciated and respected. Semper Fi, Marine.

    2. I do believe there is a little distortion in the firing position in qualifying with M-1. I went through boot camp in the summer of1956. As I recall at 200 yards we fired 10 rounds off hand and 10 rounds rapid fire from the sitting position. At 300 yards we fired 5 rounds from the knelling position and 5 rounds from the sitting position. We then fired 10 rounds rapid fire from the prone position at the 300. Then from 500 yards we fired 10 rounds from the prone position.

    3. Dale your are right on top of it. I was there in September of 1957. I remember it exactly that way.
      If you did not qualify on any particular day however there was some significant punishment in order.
      Looking back, it was great training in all respects.

  2. I think you are right Dale. The prone at 300 was rapid fire. I am not sure maggots in my plt. who didn’t qualify did not graduate with us. But they sure had to put their utility jackets on backwards, and run around Camp Mathews wagging their arms and yelling “I’m a shiat bird, I’m a shitbird” Also, targets were chalked on the front of their jackets. It was really funny to see them going up and down the streets hollering. Oh well, that was maybe the ‘old corps’. I also recall another plt. had their non-qualifiers run the gauntlet, where the gauntlet consisted of the lines smacking them with their covers. I doubt those hallowed routines are still practiced.

    1. Thanks for your input Bill. I thought for sure the prone was at 500 yards, but guess I stand corrected. Your other boot camp memories brought chuckles as they made me recall similar events of the day. Semper Fi, Marine

  3. In ’62 at Camp Matthews my 500-yard line phase was 10 shots prone. What a great experience for a gung ho 17-year old recruit!

  4. Oldmarine to Lionel “Leo” Caldeira – Cpl. I went thru boot camp in Aug 1953 and was Hi shooter for the Plt.(283) This is the protocol for the Range then 200 yds. was OFF HAND slow fire and timed fire. From the 300 yds. it was Sitting and Kneeling slow fire and timed fire. each string was 8 rounds ea for slow and timed fire.500 yds was prone slow fire only. Expert score was 225 points Sharp Shooter was 218 points. and Marksman was 190. all of the is to the best of my memory and a little fuzzy on Score Ratting. I believe that the Max score was 250 and I never heard of anyone going over 130 and all shooting was with the M1 Grand. I competed with the 45 also but most Marine competition was at civilian matches. Still do a lot of shooting using all kinds of weapons but still have a M1A1 (308) for Long Range.

      1. In 1972 or 1973 I was in the Hq. Co. of Hq. Bn. 2nd Mar Div and was assigned as the Firing NCOIC of a range detail. It was the last range detail for the year and consisted mostly of officers and SNCO’s I was cold and rainy on qualification day, and as I recall I was the only one to shot expert. The following Monday the Hq.Bn. training chief called me to his office and commenced to chew me out. I told him the detail NCOIC should be a non -firing SNCO.

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