Marines practice new pistol qualify at the range

Marines practice new pistol qualify at the range

Marines fire rounds down range during Combat Pistol Program qualification training and firing at the Puuloa Range Training Facility in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, April 30. Photo by LCpl Nathan Knapke.

PUULOA RANGE TRAINING FACILITY, EWA BEACH, HAWAII (May 10, 2013) - One of a Marine's best friends is his or her rifle. Marines master it as they master their lives. But if a Marine runs out of ammo or their rifle stops working during combat, a pistol could be their backup weapon. Marines learned about the new Combat Pistol Program qualification training and firing, which will replace annual pistol training.

The Marine Corps has been working to improve the pistol training program since 2008. An initial assessment of the pistol program was conducted on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. In 2012, LtGen Richard P. Mills, deputy commandant of combat development and integration, approved the new program.

May marked the start of the new CPP into the Marine Corps. Puuloa Range Training Facility started one of four Train-the-Trainer sessions for certified combat marksmanship coaches and trainers.

"In the past, Marines came back from deployment and said when they had to use the pistol, they didn't feel proficient with it," said Marine Gunner and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jordan Kramp, Puuloa Range Training Facility officer in charge and a native of Chicago. "The best way to understand what it will feel like in combat is to experience combat. The new CPP will give Marines the closest understanding of how to use the pistol in combat, without actually being in combat."

Kramp attended a five-day training session with Weapons Training Battalion, MCB Quantico, and is certified to implement Train-the-Trainer sessions for all combat marksmanship coaches and trainers. He supervised qualified Marines while they were introduced to the new CPP and asked for the Marines' feedback.

"This course is more combat-oriented than the pistol qualification previously implemented," said Cpl Kyle Abreu-Buendia, a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and native of Ewa Beach, Hawaii. "Everything is more rushed. In combat, you're not always going to have a perfect grip. When the shooter draws the pistol from the holster, it relates to how a Marine will shoot in a stressed environment. Besides, it's actually more fun to shoot this way."

Some of the most apparent changes from the annual pistol training and the combat pistol program are the time constraints, holster and targets that have visual human features. Marines have to "check their six" or look behind them after shooting a drill.

Marines shoot from the seven, 15 and 25- yard lines. At the seven-yard line, Marines shoot controlled pairs, failure drills and perform speed reloads. At the 15-yard line, Marines shoot controlled pairs and perform a speed reload. The 25-yard line consists of single action shots. At each distance, they have correlating time constraints that make the CPP training more difficult the further along in the course a Marine is.

"Commands across MCB Hawaii are strongly encouraged to send their Marines to the remaining Combat Marksmanship Coach and Combat Marksmanship Trainer courses," Kramp said. "Once they are certified CMCs and CMTs, they can attend the remaining CPP Train-the-Trainer courses. This is a new to the Marine Corps and the more Marines who attend the CPP Train-the-Trainer course, the more Marines throughout MCB Hawaii will be informed about the new course."

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