ILLESHEIM, Germany — Over 100 Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, supporting the 4th Infantry Division, joined the the German Armed Forces — known as the Bundeswehr — for a chance to earn the prestigious Badge of Marksmanship, or Schützenschnur, on August 29, 2023.
For 3CAB Soldiers, the event was an opportunity to train with host nation counterparts while also learning about German culture and strengthening our relationship with an ally nation.
“The Schützenschnur is an opportunity to collaborate with the Bundeswehr and try out their weapon qualification standards,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Dean, the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd CAB Land and Ammo noncommissioned officer. “It was a great way to build relationships with Soldiers from another nation and just learn a little about them.”
Soldiers started the day off with a familiarization class on the German P30 pistol and the German G36 rifle.
“The instructors were really professional and thorough during the class,” said Cpt. Anderson Simmons, the 3CAB Resource Manager. “We were able to get some hands-on familiarization training with their weapons and talked about what we should expect from the Schützenschnur.”
Soldiers then headed out to the lanes where they fired at a combination of paper and pop-up targets in order to qualify.
“We started off firing at paper targets with the P30 pistol and the G36 rifle,” said Dean. “After everyone was comfortable with the weapons, we moved over to a pop-up range and fired at nine pop-up targets using the G36 rife.”
After completing the qualification, Soldiers learned what classification of the German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship they qualified for. The award comes in three grades that showcase how proficient a soldier is, with gold being the highest, silver the second highest and bronze being the lowest. U.S. Soldiers are authorized to wear the award on their Army Service Uniform.
“For the gold classification, a Soldier would have to get a perfect score in all three events,” said Dean. “We actually had around 80% of our Soldiers shoot a perfect score, so we’ll get to see a lot of gold on Soldier’s ASUs once we get back home.”
The Schützenschnur has origins dating back to the 18th century and was awarded to enlisted Soldiers for marksmanship. Soldiers from all military occupational specialties can wear the award as long as they qualify on the required weapons systems.
“After talking to one of the rifle instructors I found out he’s a firefighter in the German Army,” said Anderson. “It was interesting to me that they were serving as the weapons instructors, it’s not something you’d expect.”
For Soldiers like Anderson, the Schützenschnur presented an opportunity to increase interoperability between the units and learn how other armies operate.
“This is my first rotation so working with partner nation forces when you’re away from home and from things you might be used to, I think it really helps enhance the experience,” said Anderson. “It helps show why you’re here and you get to learn how other militaries operate.”
By SGT Caitlin Wilkins