Eagle eye soldiers earn top sniper rank
At a shooting range of the 15th Division of Korean Army (ROKA) in Gangwon, 24 soldiers were under Preliminary Rifle Instruction (PRI) training that teaches soldiers the proper technique for firing guns as well as weapon accident prevention.
The training course is one of the most notorious in the military. The soldiers are pushed hard physically and train with live ammunition.
Despite this, the range soon erupted into cheers when Second Lieutenant Kim Jun-tae, 26, informed them that all 24 soldiers under Kim’s platoon acquired certificates of first- class marksman which is only given to soldiers who passed the shooting test with a 90 percent accuracy rate.
The ROKA explained that each solider must hit 18 targets out of 20 from 100, 200 and 250 meters (820 feet) range in order to pass the test. It is the first time that an entire platoon of soldiers has acquired the certificate in Korean military history.
The military explained that they normally aim to have four out of 10 soldiers in a division acquire the certificate and a troop is usually recognized as superb if 30 percent of a division acquires the certificate.
In Kim’s platoon, only six soldiers, or 25 percent of the platoon, acquired the certificate by March, but after receiving the month-long intensive gunnery training, the soldiers started improving their skills.
“After we spent most of our combat training hours in firing exercises, we improved our skills tremendously,” Kim told the JoongAng Ilbo. Kim added that the 24 soldiers expended 3,600 live bullets, an average of 150 bullets per soldier, during the training period.
“We can now call ourselves a sniper platoon with pride,” Sergeant Han Jong-hyeon, 22, said with a smile. “I think we earned a great level of confidence and it is a great asset for the military because we are serving on the very front line where the armistice line is visible.”
Kim said that the visual aids they used in training helped them improve their skills greatly. They purchased an LCD-screen television, a high-performance PC and a camcorder for 5 million won ($4,235) to analyze the soldiers’ shooting habits. “I found myself moving my head when I fired, which is a bad habit in shooting,” Corporal Lee Dong-soo said.
By Jeong Yong-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]