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CMP Develops New JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course

By Dale Miles, CMP Writer

There are over 2,400 Army, Navy and Marine Corps JROTC units in the USA. Statistics kept by JROTC commands and the CMP indicate that at least two-thirds or approximately 1,600 of those units offer rifle marksmanship programs to their cadets. Most of those JROTC units have rifle teams and many actually provide basic safety and marksmanship training to all of the cadets in their programs. The bottom line—Army, Navy and Marine Corps high school JROTC programs are doing an outstanding job of offering safety and rifle marksmanship to 100,000 or more American youth every year.

The new JROTC course offers Powerpoint presentations on the basics of air rifle instruction. The slides shown here are from those presentations.
The JROTC marksmanship program now includes instructional curricula, annual postal competitions, shoulder-to-shoulder championships for each service and a National JROTC Championship. For many years, these programs have compiled an outstanding safety record, but in 2004, four separate safety incidents caused both Navy and Army commanders to call for complete reviews of the safety instruction given to JROTC instructors and cadets as well as of the ranges and range procedures used in JROTC marksmanship. The CMP, which has worked closely with JROTC commands and their marksmanship programs for the past four years, was asked to be part of these reviews.

The reviews concluded that all JROTC cadets must have formal training in gun safety before they participate in rifle marksmanship activities. The reviews, which subsequently were approved by Navy and Army Commanders who oversee JROTC programs, also mandated that all JROTC instructors must complete a formal course of instruction covering gun safety, air rifle range management and range operation procedures. To implement this enhanced “marksmanship prerequisite,” the Navy and Army JROTC Commands asked the CMP to develop a new one-day JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course (the course acronym is “JMIC”) to be given to their instructors and to make it available as soon as possible. All Army and Navy JROTC instructors who teach rifle marksmanship or supervise range firing activities must complete either this new one day course or the two-day NRA/USA Shooting/CMP Rifle Coach Training Course.

CMP efforts to develop the course began in late December. A course outline was developed identifying eight different instructional sessions in the course:
  1. Introduction to JROTC Marksmanship
  2. How to Start a JROTC Marksmanship Program
  3. Teaching Air Rifle Safety
  4. Air Rifle Safety and Range Management SOPs
  5. Conducting Air Rifle Live Fire Activities
  6. Teaching Basic Marksmanship
  7. Learning and Practicing Rifle Marksmanship Skills
  8. Marksmanship Experiences and Opportunities
A set of PowerPoint slides and notes for each of the eight sessions was designed and created. Four of the eight slide-based presentations were designed for presentation to instructors. Four of the presentations were designed to be presented to instructors who could in turn use those same slides to make presentations to their JROTC cadets. These presentations cover an introduction to marksmanship, safety, basic marksmanship instruction and future opportunities. Notes to support each slide were drafted and the slides, notes and supporting resources were combined into a JMIC Instructors Notebook. Each JROTC instructor who takes the course receives both a JMIC Instructors Notebook and a CD with the slides that can be used to make presentations to cadets. The primary work of designing and drafting JMIC was done by Gary Anderson, the CMP Director. By early February the complete package was ready for a comprehensive review by a select group of highly-experienced JROTC and junior marksmanship teachers and JROTC command representatives. The review group met at Camp Perry, Ohio on 4-5 February 2005. Revisions were made to the course materials in preparation for two Master Instructor training workshops that also were scheduled in February. The new course is to be taught by Master Instructors who were selected by JROTC commands and the CMP on the basis of their marksmanship experience and expertise and their availability to teach the course to other JROTC instructors. A total of 96 Master Instructors were trained at workshops in Reno, Nevada (14-15 February) and Fort Benning, Georgia (18-19 February).  Navy JROTC Master Instructors will be trained at a workshop in Pensacola, Florida on 2-3 May.

One of the exciting things about the new course is that it includes several safety doctrines that are either new or that now represent a consensus among marksmanship leaders and experts. For example, the JMIC Review Panel members and Master Instructors were unanimous in agreeing that CBIs (Clear Barrel Indicators) should be required for air rifle range firing. Consistent, clear range commands and range operation definitions were worked out and incorporated in procedures for conducting live fire. In several instances, traditional and often conflicting procedures were actually simplified. Clarified procedures for loading, giving corrections on the line, handling malfunctions, shooter actions upon the completion of firing and clearing loaded air rifles after the STOP command is given were worked out and are detailed in the course.

The course starts with an illustrated introduction to marksmanship and how the sport fits into the JROTC program. Its second session is for JROTC instructors who are starting new marksmanship programs and provides information on suggested range layouts, backstop construction, selecting rifles for beginners and obtaining basic equipment. Two sessions are devoted to how to teach position rifle marksmanship techniques and skills. The last session looks at the wide range of goals that marksmanship participants can adopt, ranging from learning to be safe with guns and practicing a new sport to keeping shooting as a lifetime sport or “going for the gold” by striving to make an Olympic shooting team.

The main part of the course focuses on air rifle marksmanship safety. Beginning with a detailed description of basic air rifle safety and covering such topics as muzzle control and the importance of open actions when not firing, it progresses to range commands and range rules. It also covers safety procedures for a series of special situations. Standard operating procedures for JROTC air rifle ranges are detailed and explained so that a safe environment can be created for JROTC cadets to pursue this rewarding sport. In fact, the safety guidelines taught by this course represent perhaps the most in-depth and comprehensive safety instruction ever developed to guide the conduct of a youth marksmanship activity.

The course has already been adopted by the Army and Navy JROTC programs and the Marine Corps JROTC program is adopting the JMIC concept for its program as well. An additional benefit of the new JMIC training program is that it can easily be adapted to meet the needs of instructors in other non-JROTC youth shooting activities. The principles of marksmanship safety are the same no matter what type of shooting organization conducts it.

For more information on the JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course or for the name of a Master Instructor in your area, contact Sheri Judd at the CMP at (419) 635-2141, ext. 1108 or