The USMC Special Operations Training Group (SOTG) is an interesting training wing of the Marine Corps. They are responsible for evaluating Marine Expeditionary Units, including basic infantry forces. I was one of those basic infantry guys who went through a SOTG course prior to my second pump, and one of the quals they put you through is the SOTG Rifle Qualification.
It stuck with me because in all my time prior as a U.S. Marine I had never seen or heard of it. I had done numerous shoots in the USMC focused around urban training, tables 2 through 6, and ranges galore. Yet the MEU(SOC) SOTG Rifle Qualification has always stuck out in my mind.
I also like to write and use drills that require minimal logistics to accomplish. If it’s a piece of training that requires a 300-yard range, 200 rounds of ammo, half a dozen magazines and two hours worth of time it’s tough to sell as usable to readers. It can be great training, but exclusivity is a pain. The SOTG Rifle Qual is a simple piece of shooting that can be done with minimal gear and ammo.
The Nuts & Bolts
So what exactly will you need to do the MEU(SOC) SOTG Rifle Qualification? Here are the basics:
- Rifle range with at least 50 yards of usable range
- 50 rounds of ammunition
- Two 30 round magazines
- Spare magazine carrier (technically this qual is supposed to be shot with plate carrier and helmet)
- Two man-sized targets
- Shot timer (phone app with set par times works)
You’ll need to be able to run to do the drill, as well as move and shoot between different yard ranges. Here is a breakdown (below) of the entire drill.
Why Shoot It?
The SOTG rifle qual gives you an easy-to-understand means to evaluate your own basic rifle skills. The page is easy to read and clearly defines the drills within the qual as well as the ammo required per drill and the time constraints.
You need to load one mag with 26 rounds and the other with 24 (and then store that second one in your reload pouch). From there you can get the range running…literally. One drill has you running from the 50-yard line to the 25-yard line. This can get your heart racing a bit since you only have 11 seconds to sprint and engage the target with two rounds standing and two rounds kneeling.
You can expect position changing, one reload, and plenty of movement and shooting, too. It’s just plain fun. The SOTG qual can be run in under an hour, including set-up and takedown.
It’s demanding. If you can’t or don’t want to use USMC-style targets you can draw the kill zones on most standard targets. I use the Sage Dynamics targets that are free to print and accurately represent the head and torso of a target.
Room for Improvement?
There is only one reload involved in this drill. Reloading is a valuable rifle skill and it’d be nice to see more than one. However, with 20 Marines on the line it could be difficult to manage multiple reloads. If you want to make the drill a bit more educational, you could reload after every drill with enough rounds for the next drill.
Other than that, it’s a solid shooting qualification that allows you to work on your skills and become a better shooter. It’s also fun and challenging, especially when you add a plate carrier and plates to your rig. It gets the heart rate up and it’s a ton of fun. Give it a try and tune up your skills.