Marine Corps Combat Marksmanship Coaching and Trainers Course
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alexandria Nowell
November 26, 2019
Marines uphold the fundamental aspect of “Every Marine a rifleman” by ensuring considerable time and resources are invested into training every Marine in marksmanship, regardless of their military occupational specialty. Combat Marksmanship Coaches are the Marines who help make this happen.
U.S. Marines throughout Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley Butler, and III Marine Expeditionary Force participated in a Marine Corps Combat Marksmanship Coach and Trainers course from Oct. 28 to Nov. 7, 2019 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.
The trainees completed a three-week, intensive program that included classes spanning eight to ten hours per day to prepare the future coaches that will return to the fleet and train Marines from not only III MEF, but across the world.
Week one consisted of daily classroom instruction where students learned marksmanship fundamentals and tools for being a successful coach. The curriculum included range safety, ballistics, proper range behavior, and time in the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Training (ISMT) center.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Vincent Benavente, a combat marksmanship trainer, instructs Marines during the Combat Marksmanship Coaching (CMC) course on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 29, 2019. The CMC course develops Marines to be proficient marksmanship coaches in order to enhance combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexandria Nowell)
“On week one, you’re going to feel like it is very repetitive, but you need to know it. That’s how you learn,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Francis Flood IV, a towed artillery systems mechanic with Ordinance Maintenance Company, 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t help another person shoot.”
The students are taught all the knowledge in week one that they will need to coach effectively on a live-fire range.
“The most difficult part of the course was learning everything verbatim,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ronaldo Meza, a native of Fresno, California, and a military police officer with Alpha Company, 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III MEF. “We learn our little secrets in boot camp on how to remember certain things but they don’t accept that here, you have to have the answers word for word. As a coach, you run that range so if you don’t know, how are you going to teach other Marines?”
CMC course students are required to qualify on the pistol range, every table of the rifle range, and a specific coach’s evaluation.
“There is roughly 26 hours of lecture and 27 hours of practical application that goes into it before the students even go onto the ranges,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jimmy Joyner, combat marksmanship school staff noncommissioned officer in charge.
On week two, Marines conducted practical application. They applied classroom knowledge to real-life scenarios on the range. The students shadowed their instructors for seven hours in the morning. In the afternoon, the students were required to qualify on the pistol range.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Angel Jaramillo, a native from Goldsborough, North Carolina and a combat marksmanship trainer, teaches hand and arm signals during the Combat Marksmanship Coaching (CMC) course on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 29, 2019. The CMC course develops Marines to be proficient marksmanship coaches in order to enhance combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexandria Nowell)
“Monday, we showed up early and did some coaching. Basically shadowing the coaches for the rifle range. I got to learn a few interesting things from the coaches that we wouldn’t have actually learned in the course itself, like from actual hands-on experience,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Caleb Roberts, a machine gunner with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd MARDIV and the CMC course honor graduate. “The coaches themselves were able to give us some tips that they wish they had known before they started coaching,” said Roberts, a Ridgecrest, California native.
Week three was the final week. Students were evaluated on all of the technical and practical knowledge taught throughout the course. The Marines were required to qualify on ranges with known and unknown distances, both day and night. The students were evaluated on their coaching abilities, correcting improper finger placement, breathing strategies, and buttstock position.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. David Millwood, right, from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, corrects Sgt. Roman Acuna Jr., a combat marksmanship trainer, on weapon placement during a practical application test on the Combat Marksmanship Coaching (CMC) course on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 29, 2019. The CMC course develops Marines to be proficient marksmanship coaches in order to enhance combat effectiveness of the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexandria Nowell)
“I know that my MOS helped me out a lot because I knew most of the fundamentals to do with the firing portion of it. The amount that I learned from being in this course is surprising to me,” said Roberts. “I’m excited to be able to tell myself every night that I have helped the Marine Corps be a little more lethal than it was before.”
According to Joyner, the combat marksmanship school in Okinawa hosts nine different CMC courses each year for units across MCB Camp Butler and III MEF. The mission of the school is to improve the lethality of III MEF, and return to the Marine Corps combat effective Marines who have the ability to fight at a moment’s notice.
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