The rifle ranges at Quantico were completed on 9 March 1953 and given the name Calvin A. Lloyd Range Complex, in honor of competitive shooter Major Calvin A. Lloyd. A range unit detachment was stood up at this time, but was not called Weapons Training Battalion until almost nine years later. Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, Virginia can trace its roots to the Marine Corps Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU). This unit was originally based in San Diego, California, but was moved to Quantico on 1 October 1962. The MTU was comprised mainly of competition shooters who took part in matches nationally and abroad. They joined the range unit detachment at the Calvin A. Lloyd Range Complex and became Weapons Training Battalion. The duties of Weapons Training Battalion at that time consisted of rifle and pistol re-qualification, marksmanship training and development, as well as fielding the Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Teams. In 1966, the Rifle Team Equipment (RTE) section was moved from Albany, Georgia to Quantico, Virginia. The RTE section was responsible for producing match grade rifles and pistols for the Marine Corps Shooting Team, as well as producing match weapons for base and station shooting teams.
Raising the profile of the Marine Corps Competition in Arms Program (CIAP) is an ongoing effort. An upcoming change to the program will enhance its relevance to the operating forces. Our Shooting Teams continue to offer support to the Marine Corps Recruiting Command (MCRC), participate in shooting matches across the country and throughout the world, and returns qualified marksmanship instructors to our units upon completion to their competition duties.
Weapons Training Battalion has grown substantially from the late 1960’s to the present. The extensive growth became more visible as the formal schools were developed. The first was the Sniper School. This formal school was established in 1977 from lessons learned during the Vietnam War and the need to send school trained snipers to the front lines. During its first year of inception, GySgt Carlos Hathcock, the school’s first Staff Non-commissioned Officer in Charge (SNCOIC), along with the RTE, created the M40A1 sniper rifle. For over 20 years, it was renowned throughout the world as the premier sniper rifle. In 1984, members of the MTU assisted in the final testing and modifications of the M16A2 service rifle. The M16A4 service rifle is the primary service rifle in the Marine Corps, as well as the rest of the Armed Forces. In 1985, the Assault Breachers (Dynamic Entry) Course was established. This course was developed to meet the needs of deploying Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (MEUSOC) units, this course began teaching dynamic explosive entry techniques to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Security Force, Military Police, and Force Reconnaissance personnel.
In 1987, the High Risk Personnel (HRP) Course was developed for Marine Corps and Department of Defense (DOD) personnel traveling abroad in high risk areas. The course taught defensive shooting techniques with the handgun. In 1988, Weapons Training Battalion stood up the first Small Arms Weapons Instructor Course (SAWIC). This course was developed to provide Marines from the operating forces with the necessary skills to prepare and run live fire ranges. Based on an operational need a Foreign Weapons Instructor Course was developed, validated by the SAWIC staff. This course provides transition training teams the knowledge to teach and train our allies on the proper employment and use of a variety of foreign weapons.
In October of 1993, the Marksmanship Program Management Section (MPMS) was established to develop and formalize marksmanship doctrine for the Marine Corps. In 2005 MPMS took the lead in revising Marine Corps Marksmanship culminating with the signature of the new Marine Corps Combat Marksmanship Program in 2007. This program is designed to provide Marines the necessary combat shooting skills to be successful in combat.
In September 2005, the new PWS facility, Harllee Hall was dedicated in honor of the late Brigadier General William Cullen Harllee, known as the “Father of the Marine Corps Rifle Practice.” Two years later, in May 2007, the battalion dedicated the adjacent building, the Test and Evaluation Facility to SSgt Abe Twitchell, one of it’s own that was killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq. Together these two facilities enable PWS to manufacture and test state of the art operational and competition weapons.