We don’t know the distances or target size. But the new Air Force quals are a big step in the right direction: active engagement rather than simple marksmanship. You can get a pretty good idea of what’s required from the new protocol published in airforcetimes.com:

• Table one: This phase will look familiar. Shooters are instructed to zero and fire from four stationary positions — lying down with a support, lying down without a support, kneeling with a support and standing behind a barricade, which were a part of the old courses of fire. Airmen fire 102 rounds at this level.

• Table two: This phase is all about tactical engagement. The shooter must raise an M4, equipped with the M68 optic attachment, from a low, ready position to a firing position and shoot at both the chest and the head of the target in single rounds and controlled pairs. The airman then takes on multiple threats to learn how to differentiate them. If an airman fails threat discrimination, he fails the entire level and must retake it.

Finally, as part of the tactical engagement phase, airmen shoot three-round bursts from the standing position and then will shoot both standing and low-kneeling from behind barricades, moving and firing from another position. Airmen fire 94 rifle rounds and 10 rounds with a 9mm pistol at this level.

• Table three: Only airmen who require the sharpest firearms skills take table three. Skills include shooting in low visibility with no aids, shooting with night-vision scopes and flashlights, and shooting with laser aiming devices. Airmen fire 80 rounds at this level.

In all, airmen who complete all three tables shoot 276 rounds with a rifle and 10 with a 9mm pistol . . .

In addition to learning basic marksmanship, nonsecurity forces personnel fire three additional phases of the course. Those phases include a ball/dummy drill to practice fixing malfunctions, chemical warfare, which requires firing while wearing a gas mask, and a tactical engagement techniques phase that has five orders of fire.

48 Responses to Could You Pass the New Air Force Shooting Qualification?

  1. Sounds awesome. Too bad they won’t fund it.

    My ANG unit doesn’t do annual qualification anymore, because they can’t afford the range time. They have gone to “just in time” training only, which means that you get an 8 hour crash course right before you deploy. If you fail? You might have to repeat the training, but you’ll deploy anyway.

    It doesn’t really matter though. In most places in the AOR, Airmen aren’t allowed to carry firearms, or if we are, we are forced to carry them unloaded.

    • Carry an unloaded weapon? Did you have ammo on you should you need it? What was the purpose of carrying an unloaded weapon? Please forgive this old lifelong civilian for not knowing military thinking.

    • This is not accurate. Just in time is for Category B. Those who are in Category A will fire each year. these people are usually the first out the door.

      Those who carry a weapon in the AOR and in AF will do so with a mag in and no round chambered. Obviously the person who commented didn’t go that far down range. On each of my deployments, I had been locked and loaded, and my Chem gear was in MOPP Ready. I would suggest you go further down range before you speak for all of us.

  2. That sounds like a great move in the right direction, kinda like how the Army added a new physical fitness test that involved more realistic tests of physical prowess.

    But I gotta ask, why is this Air Force Staff Sergeant wearing a US Army 82nd Airborne Division patch on his right shoulder?

    • “But I gotta ask, why is this Air Force Staff Sergeant wearing a US Army 82nd Airborne Division patch on his right shoulder?”

      Could be prior service Combat patch…. Also when I was there we had Airmen attached to the division. Can’t remember if they wore patches or not, Not sure if the airmen attached were awarded Combat Patches. I think they were.

      My question is why did it take so long to get some realistic rifle and pistol training? We have technically been at war for the last ten years, and they are just now thinking about changing the training. Talk about a day late and a dollar short.

      During the Clinton years I was lucky to get 40 rounds to shoot once per year.

      • There are a number of AF personnel attached to army units. Usually they are JTACs as stated above (Joint Tactical Air Controllers) but also SWO (Staff Weather Officers) and their staff, attached to the G2 (intelligence) section of Division HQ.

        My understanding is that USAF uniform regs do not permit the wear of Army patches unless the airman is actually attached to an army unit. When he goes back to the Air Force the patch has to come off.

        • USAF allows prior service patches. Several of our Pave Low drivers were ex Army Apache guys and were allowed to wear their patches while wearing BDUs (but not when wearing bags)

      • For those not familiar with Army uniforms, the sleeve the patch is worn on is also significant. Current unit patch is always worn on the left sleeve. A patch on the right sleeve is officially called a FWTS-SSI (Former Wartime Service – Shoulder Sleeve Insignia) but most soldiers just call it a “Combat patch.” To signify that a soldier has served in a combat zone, he/she wears the patch of the unit they served with in the combat zone on the right sleeve.

        I don’t think the AF allows airmen who were once soldiers to wear their army patches on AF uniforms (though my info may be out of date) but airmen who were attached to army units while they were in the Air Force are allowed to do so while they’re so attached.

      • “Technically at war for the last ten years” would mean that Congress had made a declaration of war 10 years ago (potentially minus 90 days under the war powers act). When did that happen?

        • Congress passed two resolutions authorizing use of military force in Iraq and afghanistan and have funded the wars since then thus no violation of WPA and declared war

    • That’s most likely an Air Force Airborne patch. The AF has their own airborne division. One of their main missions is to protect cargo aircraft when it’s on the ground.

      My Dad had a patch like that from his AF days.

      • Uh, no and no. :rolleyes: It’s an 82nd Airborne Division patch from the army, and no, the Air Force does not have their own “airborne division.” Only the Army and the 82nd is the only one (the 101st is “Air Assault” meaning they travel by helicopter.)

      • “One of their main missions is to protect cargo aircraft when it’s on the ground.”

        You are thinking about FAST (Fly Away Security Team) or Phoenix Raven Security Police (er: “Forces” 😐 ) members.

        They were not “airborne” per se.

  3. Way to go Big Blue.

    Active Duty Basic Training quals circa 2008 involved 50 rounds static shooting for practice, and 50 rounds shooting for genuine qualification. All fixed position, static shooting with absolutely no semblance of tactical awareness. Pistols were not fired on initial qualifications, and if someone failed on the firing line they were allowed to “re-qualify” a year later.Get 40 out of 50 and you earned a “marksmanship” award. I shot 39….stupid *&)%$)@#& gas mask fogging up…

    Observation from my 38 odd person flight.

    The best shooters were guys who never fired a gun before that day. I posted the second best score in the flight, and I never fired so much as a paintball gun before ( I grew up in Chicago pre-Heller). The ‘top shot’ was a kid from Massachusetts who like me broke his rifle cherry on Uncle Sam’s dime. The trash talkers who bragged about shooting squirrels in their sleep posted 30’s and 20’s out of 50. Two of the MP recruits posted 20’s. One racked up a *16* out of 50. Glad I never had to deploy with that guy.

  4. Most of those tables sound pretty similar to what we did in Army Basic and AIT. Good to see the boys in blue getting more trigger time.

    • Forget the uniform, his rifle has what looks like a Leupold HAMR(or similar) and a VLTOR stock. That is not issue gear. He is prolly a TACP or Combat Controller with army patches on his uniform. The only army patches allowed when not attached to an army unit are Ranger tabs and function badges.

      • From Air Force Iinstruction (AFI) 36-2903, DRESS AND PERSONAL APPEARANCE OF AIR FORCE PERSONNEL, comes:

        “Airmen may wear the badges of other military services while permanently assigned to units that perform duties with another military service. Airmen may also continue to wear earned, permanently awarded Air Force and other services’ qualification badges that meet the criteria in paragraph 10.5, regardless of duty assignment. Wear only regular size embroidered cloth badges or specialty insignia.”

        If he’s TACP (1C451), CCT (1C251) or CWT (1W052) he’ll also be wearing the Parachutist Badge, along with his Occupational Qualification Badge, above the U.S. AIR FORCE tape on the front left of the BDU jacket.

        It’s likely that this is an older photo, as the BDUs haven’t been authorized for wear since 1 November 2011; having been replaced by the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU).

        As to the rifle; it’s interesting to note that this M4 appears to be equipped with the SEI Vortex® Flash Eliminator.

  5. Now all we need do is teach all the girls in Army Combat units, how to shoot, better yet reissue the 3006 m1 to combat units, and replace the small game round the 5.56 NATO ..and junk the junk M4/M16 , everyone else has better rifles WHY??? and you know America the worlds largest military ,,, But we still have NO and I mean NO national defense ,, why no Civil defense, and why NO EMP defense, and why can anyone bring NUKES in by why of Mexico on unchecked trucks because of the North American free (so called) trade… America you have been lied to and had , left out to dry…..

  6. I’ve already passed 1 and 2. Haven’t done 3.

    It was fun, and not very challenging to qualify. Very few shot expert in the group I was with, including the OSI agent. Shooting with the gas mask is now done with the aid of the red dot sight, which makes it dead easy.

    • Edgehill: There are airmen who are airborne qualified and who jump. Most of them are attached to Army units that are also airborne, some are CCTs (Combat Controllers), some are PJs (Pararescuemen), some are even weathermen, believe it or not (SOWT – Special Operations Weather Teams.)

      However, there is no airborne division in the air force. A division is a large combat formation of about 10,000 – 15,000 soldiers and includes both combat and support troops. The only “airborne division” in the US military is the 82nd. Airmen who are airborne are scattered all over the Air Force, not concentrated into one unit.

      BTW the article you referenced above made it sound like the Security Forces (formerly known as Air Force Security Police) who perform combat security routinely jump into combat – I have never heard of that and I served in (army) airborne units for almost half of my military career years. Although I suppose a small number of Security Forces personnel might be airborne qualified I’ve never heard of a specific airborne security forces unit that was trained to jump into combat like the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

      (This may seem like nitpicking but to those of us who have served in airborne units it’s important to make the distinction.)

      • I’ve got a friend who’s a former SOWT. There’s also weathermen who aren’t SOWT, but still jump qualified. They work with the 82nd, and so need to be jump qualified for when the 82nd deploys. They wear a grey beret, which pisses the SOWTs off, because it means they aren’t as special.

        • SOWTs are part of AFSOC and/or JSOC: CWTs are assigned to “regular” Army units (like the 82nd Airborne shown here).

          Both are “Brothers of the Gray Beret.” 🙂

          Myself being former AFSP with AMC, I don’t remember any of the other “Air Cops” being Parachutists — not even any of the FAST or Ravens.

      • I believe the 820th Combat Group out of Robins AFB has an airborne squadron. Each squadron in the 820th has a specific mission capability which is why they are the only Security Forces Group in the AF. Still it’s only one squadron(maybe 100 guys?) not a whole flipping division.

        • The 820th BDG is out of Moody. They are descendants of the original “Operation Safeside”: the _original_ “Blue Berets.” 🙂

  7. I would like to see the ARMY girls , do it with a M1 at 1000 yards on a man size target, it’s a fact that they had to recondition all the old M14’s they could find and issue as the M4 does not cut it ,,, NEVER did,, you need put down & shock in a Combat rifle….My service grade M1 still drives tacks,, 8 shots in 2 inch groups at 1000 years, iron sights too ,, that is what a combat rifle does,, the British gave the Germans true hell because of the fast firing 303 Enfield bolt action rifle ,in WW1…….. so much for history…

    • Just so I’m clear, you are claiming a 2″ group at 1000 (one thousand) yards with iron sights?

    • Way to show up for the corps, last one out. I hope you are a troll, because your post is embarrassing. The m4 isn’t ideal, but it worked very well for me and my “ARMY girls” (?), and our attached JTACs. I’d still rather carry my M4A1 than your mythical iron sighted 1/4″ MOA enbloc death wand.

      Back to the real world, good on the air force for implementing more realistic, combat focused training. Some of them even get to use it, likely including this JTAC who get to kick around with the 82nd (the patch on his shoulder) and play with the infantry for half of a real deployment.

  8. As others have noted, he is a JTAC. I know because I was one for twenty-plus years. As for the AF allowing the patch, the clothing regulation allowed them as long as the member was assigned to a unit that was in support of the Army.

    • When submariners are sent on “in lieu of” taskings, riding in convoys or pulling security on a FOB somewhere, they’ll find out what the AF has been doing for a good long time now.

    • We support a lot of non Air Force ops now. I spent 6 months doing convoy duty in Iraq, and also spent 6 months providing security for OSI ops in afghanistan. Even had some Navy guys with us. Also I am not even security forces, I work on Airplanes.

  9. Retired Security Forces SNCO…. Look up 786th Contingency Response Group( USAF) based out of Germany. Dropped into Northern Iraq on the first night of the Iraq War. Airfield seizure in conjunction with US Army is the main mission. Fair amount of Ranger and Airborne qualified Security Forces Airmen out there as well. Security Forces running convoys, training Afghani Police, etc. Pararescue and Combat Controllers are USAF Special Ops and are amazing troops. Bottom line different uniform, same mission, kill bad guys!

  10. “Could You Pass the New Air Force Shooting Qualification?”

    Yes, did it last week and it is fun as hell…. and the M4 is still a POS….flame away.

  11. 276 rounds is more than the army lets me fire (for free) all year. Speaking of the Army why in gods name would we let the Airforce do this, screw those guys, give ME that ammo, seriously, GIVE IT TO THE ARMY! The Airforce and to an even greater extent (just in case someone somewhere might be considering this) Have no business firing that much (or any at all… because screw those useless POG’s) ammo, ever.
    As to the primary question; hell yes I could pass that!

    • You’re the type who bashes USAF troops for lack of combat skills, then criticizes them for trying to gain combat skills. Perhaps the Army doesn’t let you shoot more because your NON COMBAT MOS doesn’t call for it.

  12. USAF Security Forces started this course in 2009. That was the first time I did it and we were an ANG unit. First time we ever had to qual with NVGs. It felt so crazy to this former airman I didn’t qual the first time because with the PAQ4 or whatever laser we used it felt like a video game and I didn’t maintain a good hold on my weapon. I’m amazed this has expanded to the whole AF because some folks don’t even have to qualify annually. We qualed every six months, and believe it or not(it was the Guard after all) brought our personal ARs and ammo for post drill range time. Lotta former Marines and Army in our NCO corps that liked to shoot.

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