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Cpl. Ivan Gonzalezaerrea, 21,TBS warfighting division, Edinburg, Texas, fires down range at a T-40 Marathon Robot during a Moving Target Engagement exercise at Range 12 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on Sept. 20, 2013. The weapons Marines will be firing during the exercise are: the 5.56 mm semiautomatic rifle, an M-16 service rifle and the Heckler-Koch M27 infantry automatic rifle.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le

Marines test new moving target engagement methods

2 Oct 2013 | Lance Cpl. Cuong Le Marine Corps Base Quantico

Marines from The Basic School, Weapons Training Battalion and Army personnel from Fort Meade, Md., practiced new ways to engage moving targets during combat, with the help of T-40 Marathon Robots supplied by the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group at Range 12 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on Sept, 20, 2013.

Every Marine is taught how to hold a rifle and shoot at stationary targets as a requirement to pass recruit training. However, the amount of training each Marine receives on firing at a moving target is very limited, with only 200 rounds to qualify, eight of which are shot at moving targets.

“You don’t get any type of moving target training at [recruit training.] And the enemy is never going to pop up and wait for you to shoot him,” said Sgt. Phillipi Sanz, shooter, WTB. “Up until now I have only shot at a moving target twice.”

The robots provide Marines with a realistic moving target that changes speeds and movement depending on its mode. The robots have three different modes: target, shooting gallery and behavioral. All of which set an obstacle that the Marines, has to overcome.

“It has been some of the most beneficial training that we have done, because there are a lot of things in this training that could benefit the entire Marine Corps as a whole,” said Cpl. Carson Cook, marksmanship instructor, WTB.

The T-40s not only provide a more realistic target, but a good way to gather data on which techniques are most effective when shooting at a moving target.

“Our hope is [that], with this data, we can influence how infantry Marines are trained to shoot at their targets,” said Capt. Benjamin Brewster, project officer, Marine Corps Warfighing Lab.

To get the most accurate data from the training, Marines will shoot using three different techniques: while standing, kneeling and prone. Marines will also use three different types of rifles during the experiment: a 5.56 mm semiautomatic rifle, an M-16 service rifle and the Heckler-Koch M27 infantry automatic rifle.

“I believe this is something that is needed, because people have always looked for different ways to fight from when the Spartans fought until now,” said Cpl. Eugene Soto, shooter, TBS.

For some Marines, the first time they get to shoot at a moving target will be during a firefight. These robots provide Marines that opportunity before they get into combat.

“It’s very realistic and it’s a lot more training than anyone else in the Marine Corps is receiving, I guarantee,” said Sanz. “This is the first stage and, as we go on, it can get better.”


Marine Corps Base Quantico