More Than Half Of Recruits Never Held A Gun – Army Forced To Change Training


screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-8-46-13-pmThe Army is taking a different approach to teaching recruits marksmanship and the media is gleefully reporting that this change is due to declining gun ownership among young people.

Statistics from the General Social Survey and studies from The University of Chicago should be taken with a grain of salt, but nonetheless the trend identified below is significant.

From The Miami Herald:



A study of U.S. gun ownership by an independent research group at the University of Chicago reports gun ownership has declined sharply in recent decades among teens and 20-somethings. This is the same demographic group from which the Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military, draws most of its recruits.

The group called the NORC organization said its study — or General Social Survey — found that among 18- to 25-year-olds, gun ownership fell from a 1977 peak of 45 percent to 13 percent in 2014.


The NRA has pointed out that while fewer young people might own guns, they generally have higher levels of support for gun rights compared to youth from previous generations. Furthermore, the NRA disputes many of the stats thrown around by universities about gun ownership rates. We aren’t necessarily doomed but…

It appears the Army is taking a kinder gentler approach:


Many are dropping the tendency to bark out orders and are adopting a more mentor-like coaching attitude.

“You don’t hear any drill sergeants yelling, unless it’s a huge safety issue,” said Staff Sgt. Randy Fisher, one of about 600 drill sergeants working daily with recruits at South Carolina’s Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest basic combat training post. “We don’t want the soldiers to get all freaked out.”


You can’t help but to worry the Army is going to lower the bar even more then they already have for future generations. On the bright side, apparently the Army is pushing experienced sergeants to take refresher courses on marksmanship:
[quote_box_center]Dorval and Fisher were among the first of the service’s 275 drill sergeants to attend an intensive weapons refresher course for drill sergeants set up at Fort Benning, Georgia.A nine-year Army veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, Dorval said his refresher course helped him by emphasizing how drill sergeants must become coaches and mentors to teach others to shoot.

“There are a lot of steps that they must accomplish, and we take them one at a time,” Dorval said, noting body position, breathing, and trigger squeeze are all important to shooting accurately.

Dorval said he sympathizes with those who’ve never shot a gun.

“When I joined at 19, I was just a city boy; I’d never fired a weapon,” Dorval said.

Staff Sgt. Harry Lichtenberger, overseeing safety at the “live fire” range, said those new to guns often become the Army’s best shooters.

“We find that those who have fired weapons have quirks, bad habits. Sometimes it’s hard for those who’ve grown up using granddaddy’s rifle to admit they’ve been doing it all wrong,” the 35-year-old combat cavalry scout said.


It’s great to see the Army take marksmanship more seriously, if that’s what’s happening here. Since the Associated Press (AP) is pretty much clueless about anything related to guns or military,  you have to wonder how big the supposed change in the way sergeants are approaching marksmanship really is. Perhaps some active duty members who have witnessed changes to marksmanship training can enlighten us in the comments below.


  1. This is a complete joke! Our Schools and our Colleges are teaching our Men to be complete wimps! What kind of Military Troops are affraid to handle a firearm..!!! I have been firing a Rifle since I was 11 years old in the Boy Scouts. Been shooting a BB Gun since I was 8 years old and a Bow & Arrows and slingshot since I was 6 years old! God help us, PLEASE!

    • Me too, my Dad was a NRA qualified instructor, so my shooting habits were the right ones.

  2. There is a reason that drill Sergeants raise their voices to recruits. It is to accustom them to the ability to make decisions in battle under extreme duress and to follow orders in the same conditions. When I enlisted I had been shooting since I was ten years old and when I was 16 had already purchased two hand guns across state lines, on my own, without help or permission from either one of my parents. Some of my friends had also purchased firearms as well, we had no intention of doing anything illegal with them, we just used them to ventilate a lot of tin cans and water balloons. Some times we even purchased real targets and stapled them to cardboard boxes to test our skill against each other. Upon occasion we hunted raccoons, rabbits and squirrels as well, so when I joined up I already had a working knowledge of firearms and things went smoothly at the Fort Knox ranges. (I sure wish that we had been supplied with ear plugs though, maybe my hearing would be better)

    • At 14 , I out shot a NYS Trooper using his revolver, he was pissed, but bit his lip and said nothing…his red face told it all.

  3. So is the Army going to give them sling shots, ammunition would be plentiful and cheap but I don’t think they would survive. The next thing would be bow and arrows does not use gun powder just a string and arrows aimed at target but mostly for close combat. So maybe the Army is going to put transgenders on the line and they could solicit the enemy for sexual favors then they could kill them wonder if that would work. By the way if they have transgenders out in the field will they share the same rest areas if they have to pee. Another thing is how many queers are they training.

  4. It is important to recognize the difference between:
    1) programs designed to “WEED OUT” applicants such as the SEAL Team’s famous BUDS screening process,
    2) programs designed to TEACH basic skills, which is what this article is about, and,
    3) programs designed to TRAIN troops in applying their basic skills under pressure/stress.
    It has always been the case, that TEACHING something new, like basic shooting fundamentals, is better accomplished without any unnecessary stress (what the Army apparently has rediscovered now). There is time enough in more advanced infantry training, to TRAIN troops to use the shooting skills they have (by then) learned, while under more combat-like stress. The idea that shooting training should be done under typical “boot camp stress,” was prevalent for many generations in the various services, probably more because no one stopped to think through what, EXACTLY, they were trying to accomplish, than because it was especially effective. The fact that there used to be more recruits (and females weren’t required to learn this stuff before) who had already learned to shoot as kids, probably covered up for the inefficiencies of the military’s “Old Way” of doing it, since the didn’t really need to teach new shooting skills, and could sort of “skip over” that process and go right to the “TRAINING under stress” phase. Although, it should be noted that “back in the day” it was probably necessary to “UN-Train” people who had learned bad shooting habits as kids. It is notable that in the USMC’s Spec Ops program once the “selection process” is completed, those Marines who have passed selection and are now in the MARSOC community, receive much less stressful initial shooting instruction, although the stress is added pretty quickly. But then the applicants are already competent and experienced Marines before they even apply, so there is relatively little need for extensive refresher training in shooting fundamentals.
    Now if the various flight training commands would only get the same message, maybe Flight Instructors (Instructor Pilots) could start to lighten up and let the new guys learn to fly before adding high stress to the equation.

  5. At least the army is addressing the problem instead of burying it under a rug. 90%of it youths might never see an ar15 except in a come rial trying get to call it an assault rifle (which is total bs). Most country youths most likely use a rifle to hunt each year, which gives them a big advantage over their big city piers. Having the army properly train new recruits will make them better at doing the job of protection go the USA. I was in the air force and was an avid hunter before going in and could tell the difference between myself and some who nev er r held a rifle before. Hopefully this new approach will be positive.

  6. As an old time veteran, I am better with a scope sighted rifle than I am with open sights. Since I had hunted long before I went into the military, I found I had an astigmatism issue and had to get help with using open sights on an M-1 rifle. The extra help enabled me to qualify and I did. But now I am back to scope sights and do very well. I am limited with a handgun to little over 100 feet because of the sight problem so it is senseless for me to carry a concealed weapon for shooting at any distance more than 100 feet. Therefore a revolver with a longer barrel is more useful. I am well aware of my limitations and would never try to shoot longer than 100 feet with a handgun of any kind. In order to even try to use a handgun I would have to make sure I was closer. But it beats throwing rocks. I believe everyone who considers having a gun for protection must be aware of their capabilities before carrying a firearm.

  7. Basic Training Sept 1966, never owned a Rifle before, never taught to shoot prior to Basic. Learned the critical Fundamentals well qualified as Expert with M-14, later with M-16, 1911, M79 and any other weapon available to fire. The Fundamentals always work and prior experience is not necessary to become an Expert. The mental ability to listen, learn and apply those lessons is what makes a top combat shooter.

  8. Nothing new , 30 years ago they had to print manuals in comic book format since too many recruits couldnt read.

  9. If the military is short of trainers and willing to suffer its ego, they can find me right here. Same goes for thousands of “civvies”. How about reinstating the Civilian Marksmanship Program with some serious support?!!

  10. I qualified as Rifle Expert in June, 1966. I had a bit of time with a Remington single shot in long rifle that belonged to my father, a WWII Army vet, who taught me to shoot off hand and from the hip. The DIs in Boot Camp who took us to the ranges at Camp Pendlton were tough on us but, the shooting coaches at Pendlton were as calm and soothing in their instructions as a June day in the mountains of Northern California. No pressure. Just useful instruction and good advice. And a bunch of never before shooters did great at the range too. We all had orders for Nam and, all but one of us came back in mostly one piece. Simper if.

  11. A matriarchal society, which is were we are headed, will be ripe for attack by a patriarchal world that hates us. HATES US. Continued vagification of the US will be our undoing. Did you know that the NRA came about to help the North improve their marksmanship as they couldn’t hit a broad side of a southern barn? Recruits with a history of firearm use are much easier to train. Period. That article is nonsense. I don’t know but I sure got yelled at a lot in basic and while at RGR BAT.. it helps later when shit is hitting the fan. Try a stress card in combat and see how that works for ya.

    • Right on. Went to Benning school for boys myself. Had never heard of a stress card before a couple of years ago. I went through in 1990 and a little bit of screaming by the drill sergeants didn’t stop me from getting expert. I cannot stand the fact that our military has to worry about hurting a privates feelings.

    • I too went to Benning school for boys and I didn’t let a little bit of screaming by the drill Sergeants stop me from getting expert in marksmanship. I went through in 1990. I can’t stand the fact that the military has to worry about hurting a privates feelings. Never even heard of a stress card until a few years ago and I thought it was a joke. I guess not.

  12. As a preteen I used a rifle from the age of 5. I was Expected to return home with 24 quail with head shots out of 25 shells. The quail head is the size of a nickle from the side and a dime from the rear or front. try that with these wimpy shooters in Boot now; City idiots go ‘gangster with a pistol and someone will get killed by accident.
    My first Legal deer was at 12 yrs age AFTER a Oregon mandated Riffle Training Course in School !
    That was a lever action 30-30. One round kill; Practice of Bullet Placement was A must as a child.
    Now, they are Rural or have the blast and pray style of shooting hundreds of rounds in the General direction of a target.

  13. At 8 years old I had a Red Rider BB gun later a single shot bolt action .22 and my grandfathers single shot 12 Gauge Shotgun (missing 6 inches. a neighbor had borrowed it and fired it with mud in the end) I thought I was a pretty good shot. Small birds with BB’s; Squirrels with the 22 and if I was quick, rabbits with the 12 Gauge . . . HA! I spent one whole week at Camp Matthews (now CSUSD campus). The Marines REALLY taught me how to shoot in that week . . . talk about a concentrated course of training . . .all we did was practice sight picture recoil sight return and shoot the M1 Garand . A Marine is first an infantryman/Rifleman and then trains in the assigned MOS (Military Operation Specialty) Mine was what is known now at EOD. Later in the active reserve I was again Infantry; a Platoon Sargent.
    (Trivia for today; WW 1 Marines at Belleau Wood were “popping” Germans at 750 yards with the 1903, 30-06)

  14. It appears that the polling folks in Chicago must have done all of their “polling” at the University! If they had done some work in the “projects” on the weekends and after dark they would have found that “having and using a gun” is as normal as the “hood’s” doing their shopping and gang-banging! Lib’s truly believe that if every single gun was turned-in there would never again be anyone shot or killed. Unfortunately, the criminals and gang-bangers just can’t hardly wait for those days!

  15. When I first joined the military I had been taught to use a rifle by my dad and a pistol by my mom, and the drill Sgt still taught all the basics while yelling at us. His yelling did not have a negative impact on us but taught us who was in charge.

  16. My brothers and I were shooters from the time we could walk and hold a weapon, and understood the power we held in our hands. Our family has always held a weapon from time eternal and will until the end of time. My ex son in law the (WIMP) never believed my daughter could shoot, until, they came to visit one year. One evening, I asked her to get her 9mm Ruger pistol, and her 5.56 by 39 rifle and go set up some targets out in the field and she showed him what a hell of a shot she was!!!!! He never questioned her shooting abilities again, her father and granddaddy being in the military showed her and her sister well!!!!!! Her grandma, wasn’t a bad shot either!!!!!!

  17. They have gone way overboard trying to be politically correct and treating recruits like they are 8 year olds will sooner or later blow up in their faces with dire consequences. I was an NCO and really didn’t get in their faces unless it was really called for. A person new to military life needs to learn very quickly how to follow orders immediately and without question, it may just save their lives. I think all branches are allowing the influence of the present fraud-in-chief along with the rest of his little puppet non-military minions dictate how they operate, which I believe is a terrible mis-justice to the recruits. As someone else posted the range NCOs were normally very calm and instructive unless there was a real screw up doing it all wrong. Don’t forget in the military –YOU TRAIN FOR WAR, HOPING IT DOESN’T HAPPEN– but if and when it does you had better be ready.

  18. I really can’t believe that the military cares whether or not the recruits have fired a rifle before. Using great grampa’s shotgun or squirell rifle is not the same as firing an AR15, there are different schools of thought about shooting, the military has changed with the times in the last 250 years.

    I would think that is one more thing the military doesn’t have to unteach. Us city kids, paticulairy without a father around, or those who did not make much money, really did not get to go anywhere that they can shoot. Many parents of city kids do not even want their kids even knowing about any personal firearms, they have not taught them how to use them and there are gangs and bullies that they do not want them confronting with the firearm.

    Just like driving a car, someone who knows nothing about actually driving is a danger when there are other cars moving around.

    While I do not believe this is the right way to raise a child, I know that many do. I was introduced to firearms by my friends and shot BB guns and lusted after thier .22s and the fact they got to go to the desert to shoot. It is much harder to find a place to shoot(outside), just as a place for offroad vehicles in SoCal.

  19. Sorry, But this is Bullshit! The First thing our D. I.’s told us was to forget everything that we ever learned about Guns/Rifles! They would teach us the Army Way! This was in 1969!

  20. The men (boys) who never touched a weapon were favorites of the Drill Instructors on Parris Island in 1981. There were no bad habits to break them of and the DIs had a blank slate from which to work.
    As far as not yelling?
    That is the contiuation of the pussification of America…

  21. If the Army wants to change this policy I think it is great, but they really have no one to blame but their selves. Let me explain…I joined the military when Regain was in office this first thing we did while serving in Germany before roll cal was got to the armory and draw our weapons. Then Clinton becam POTOUS all that went out the window and I never even saw my weapon for the next 3 years…Yes that’s right 3 years. But at that time I was a a gun owner of my own and still one today. Most bases at the time Regan and Clinton first term still had civilian armory so you could store your personal weapons on base. Get where I’m going with Clinton being praised about how much he saved the economy and the GDP was cutting the military and VA. Under his administration we where cut on fundamental everything thing. We used to have archery ranges and gun ranges to shoot and practice on, but with his cuts just about all moral and welfare projects where eliminated. Of course except for golf course witch are 99% all officers and VIP’s. The elitist in other words no more armory ‘s, archery, inter mural sports unless funded by individuals or the Units its self. And society changes very few people hunt anymore so no need for a weapon and hinge ignorance of the laws pursued to include the 2nd amendment as well most law officials because laws where simply forgotten. I would drive to high school with a gun rack in the window of my truck and always had a shotgun and a deer rifle in them because we went hunting, but car thieves soon got rid of this practice so laws where forgotten. I could go on but I think you get my point.

  22. My kids have grown up around guns, own guns and the older ones have their CCW permits. Yes! It may be a matter of personal choice, but, it is our GOD given right(not the law of the land) to own and possess guns. My oldest son , and myself were in the military. My youngest son is currently in college to become a Firefighter/Paramedic and then join the Army after graduation. They have all been taught gun safety and all have great shooting skills, they hunt, and have good gun handling skills. This article is just another example of the “Leftist’s” socialist agenda attempt at destroying the patriotic values, 2nd Amendment Rights, and disarmament of the American people-if this ever happens, America as we now know it, will be no more!

  23. Started shooting a 22 when I was 8 yrs old. Learned a lot of respect for that old gun. Am 69 now and still
    have that old gun. Bolt is worn out but I wont part with it. If we lose our Second Amendment rights we are done as a free country. My father fought in Korea and my grandpa was in ww11. I did a tour in Vietnam in 1968.
    God help our military with what I see going on today.

  24. I attended Navy Boot Camp in 1956. We were introduced to the Garand M1 in a no nonsense manner, but also without any yelling. We all qualified. While working the butts, I was hit in the arm by a ricochet. A Gunners’ Mate took it out with a pair of needle nosed pliers. Twenty five years later, I discovered there had been TWO bullets! The second one is still in my wrist, but it’s the left one, so doesn’t interfere with my shooting. My first duty station was Guantanamo, where I was on the rifle team for two years. I grew up hunting and shooting, so none of this was new to me, except using the M1.

  25. When I was training to become a Navy officer, all “Regular” Navy types (as opposed to OCS “USNR” officers) were obliged to undertake a slightly shortened version of Marine Boot Camp (the notion was that being exposed to the joys of screaming drill sergeants, eating disgusting crap out of C-Rat tins, and living in holes in the ground would not only give us USN types an appreciation of how the other half lived, but also inspire a bunch of us to choose “Marine Option” – a brand of thinking that only the Marines could come up with). Because there had, at the time, been some recent, unfortunate deaths among the recruits at Parris Island, the top brass had decided to make Basic “more humane”, which translated into “you can scream at them and occasionally slap ’em around, but you can’t beat the snot out of them”. That “relaxation of standards” provoked lots of old soldiers to gnash their teeth and to wail that the Marines were “going soft” and that it would “destroy the Corps”. Given the performance of the young Marines who benefited from that touchy-feely training, I’m guessing it wasn’t as bad as the old fogies thought. I’m gonna guess that the same holds true of this latest revision to the training standard. Maybe the Military won’t be graduating a lot of “Sgt. Yorks”, but I’m guessing they’ll produce plenty of competent shooters – and may even convert some of these gutless, gunless kids into Life Members in the NRA.

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