More than 20,000 marine recruits go through rifle training every year at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kenneth Kurre says the training is a rite of passage. "What they get trained on mostly is the M-16 AR-4 service rifle, which is the service rifle of the Marine Corps. They're getting trained on fundamental rifle marksmanship. The reason it's so important is because every marine is a rifleman" says Kurre.
Trainers say many of the recruits have never touched a live fire arm in their lives, which is why they focus on weapons handling first, then move on to the air gun which simulates a real rifle through a video game scenario. "Most of these young men and women that come through here they've grown up with Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, you know all those neat games, and the weapons they use in those games are the same weapons they're using inside those machines" says Kurre.
In order to pass rifle training marine recruits have to achieve 190 points out of a possible 250 points. If a recruit doesn't pass, they become a part of the Marksmanship Training Platoon and receive an extra week of training. "The air guns are used to train whereas the live ammunition is nothing more than to validate what training they've gotten up to that point" says Kurre.
Once recruits have the air guns down pact, they move on to real rifles, but not every marine will get to handle the big guns. "Machine guns, the mortars and stuff like that - that's MOS specific: Military Occupation Specialty, your job in the Marine Corps" says Kurre.
Regardless of your job, since every marine is a rifleman, every marine recruit is required to qualify in rifle training.