The Combat Pistol Program (CPP) replaces the legacy Entry Level Pistol Program (ELP), which thousands of Marines are required to take annually to carry the Beretta M9 pistol. It marks the first significant change in pistol qualification since the 1980s, incorporating significantly reduced time limits on individual training blocks and a new, human-shaped target.
Military Times reported this week that the shift to the new program is already well underway, as the Weapons Training Battalion at Quantico hosted marksmanship trainers from July 8 to 12.
In the ELP Program, Marines were given 10 minutes to take 15 shots at 25 yards. The new CPP training blocks require stages at 7, 15 and 25 yards, going through 40 rounds in a series of increments timed between 5 and 12 seconds.
The Military Times report explained the CPP program stresses the need to be prepared for combat, rather than taking the most accurate shot possible at a slower pace.
"The combat pistol program is more focused on getting the pistol into action quickly and marksmanship of it," Sgt. Joseph M. Syracuse, 25, a combat marksmanship trainer with weapons and field training battalion at Camp Lejuene told the Sun Journal newspaper this week. "It's a healthy mix of both; whereas the old system focused more on marksmanship alone...it puts more emphasis on speed."
Both ELP and CPP will remain as valid training programs until the end of November 2014, when all commands have completed the transition. In the interim, the USMC Weapons Training Battalion has developed a conversion process that scales scores on the CPP course to match scores on the old ELP program, with Marines scoring 370 on the new program receiving a 353 for the record.
CWO4 Christian Wade, a gunner at the Weapons Training Battalion, explained to Military Times the transition will not alter the longstanding Corps' marksmanship badges — Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman and Unqualified.
"We wanted to stay true to Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman, Unqualified," Wade said. "That was our guiding force…We didn't want to turn that on its end, and make it unfair...We wanted to stay relatively true to the pistol badge construct that we had before."