Revised rifle qualification course initiated

USAF: Alan Boedeker Air Force basic trainee Zachary Browning, 324th Training Squadron, Flight 044, reloads between shooting practice rounds at the firing range Nov. 22. Airmen are now required to take a new intensive Air Force Rifle Qualification Course.

By Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal: 27th SOW Public Affairs

The new Air Force wide rifle qualifications course has Air Commandos at Cannon Air Force Base learning many more advanced weapons techniques.

The changes, which require more in depth weapons training and tactics, were released in September by the Air Force Security Center and officially took effect Dec. 1.

“This is a much more involved course than its predecessor,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Vahl, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor. “We are teaching more in-depth knowledge about the weapon, along with qualifying our Air Commandos on additional phases of training.”

The new course encompasses target acquisition, threat discrimination, surviving weapons malfunctions and misfires, and multiple threat engagements.

“We are still teaching fundamentals, but that isn’t enough anymore to produce truly battle-ready airmen,” said Vahl. “We’ve implemented new performance checks that students must be able to demonstrate without instructor assistance before going out on the range.”

The new course is comprised of three “tables”: table 1 involves the positions currently in the rifle qualification course, table 2 incorporates new movements and short-range marksmanship, and table 3 implements night firing and is primarily for career fields like security forces, where Air Commandos require advanced weapons training.

“Newer course challenges include tighter time constraints, the wear of combat helmets and body armor, moving under fire, and varied firing tactics,” said Vahl. “While air crew isn’t required to wear body armor, we highly encourage everyone does for training purposes.”

Along with these changes, the number of rounds fired during training has increased from 100 to 196. The number of qualification phases has also increased from one to six, with several additional phases for security forces personnel. The new course curriculum takes roughly 10 to 12 hours to complete.

“The Air Force initially predicted a passing rate of 68 percent under the new guidelines,” said Vahl. “Cannon Air Commandos are currently surpassing expectations with a 79 percent passing average.”

Preparing for any course is encouraged. Air Commandos can refresh their weapons knowledge by reviewing their Airman’s Manuals or taking computer based training on the Advanced Distributed Learning Service.