Skills Check: Trident Concepts Modified Navy Qualification Drill

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posted on September 27, 2012
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Guys who trust their lives to their rifles don't spend much time shooting from benches. They train as they expect to fight, and they certainly don't expect a sturdy shooting bench to be waiting for them on the two-way range. In a self-defense situation, neither should you. The Modified Navy Qualification (MNQ) Drill used by Trident Concepts gets you off your butt and in the dirt to work on rifle skills without artificial support, because it probably won't be there during a gunfight, either.

Developed by former Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, the Modified Navy Qualification Drill is based on a portion of a course of fire previously used by the U.S. Navy when conducting rifle qualification. As such, it is intended to be shot with an AR or other semi-automatic. The MNQ Drill incorporates three firing positions, magazine changes, some movement and a timer to add a bit of stress. There's a lot going on in this drill, but you'll need only 15 rounds to shoot it.

Place a target with an 8-inch center zone at 50 yards. (A paper plate stapled to the chest area of a silhouette target works great.) Load three magazines with five rounds each. At the firing line, assume a low-ready position with the rifle loaded. When the buzzer sounds, fire five rounds from the standing position. Reload, and fire five rounds from the kneeling position. Reload again, and fire your last five rounds from the prone position. The clock stops when you fire your final shot from prone.

The par time for the Modified Navy Qualification Drill is 25 seconds, and only hits in the 8-inch target zone count. You start with a score of 0, and are penalized for misses and time over par. The goal is to keep your score as low as possible. Add 5 points for every miss and 2 points for every second over par. Subtract 1 point for every second under par. For example, if you shoot the drill in 35 seconds with two misses, your score would be 30—20 points for the 10 seconds over par and 10 points for the pair of misses. If you shoot the drill clean in 22 seconds, your score would be -3.

Gonzales is the president of Trident Concepts, a training academy based in Cedar Park, TX, and he uses the MNQ Drill to gauge the skill level of both his students and instructors. To qualify as a marksman, a student must score 25 to 40 points. A good goal for beginners is to make the 40-point cutoff, keeping in mind each miss hurts the score more than each second over par. At Trident Concepts, a score of 10 to 24 qualifies you as a sharpshooter. To make the expert level, you'll need a score of 9 or lower.

"The drill is shot from the 50-yard line because the element of distance forces you to bring your game up," says Gonzales. Compared to other rifle drills that use targets at 25 yards or closer, it isn't as easy to get hits. In addition, smooth transitions between the firing positions are required for a good score. And with two reloads being a part of the MNQ Drill, you'll need something that keeps magazines at the ready.

Because you're shooting from three positions and reloading from two, the Modified Navy Qualification Drill is an excellent way to test not only your skills but also your rifle and gear setup. If your sling doesn't allow you to shoot from prone effectively or your magazines hang up in your chest rig, those flaws will become obvious when running through this drill. It's also a lot more fun than shooting from the bench.

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