Drill sergeant shoots first perfect score at Army marksman course

Staff Sgt. Do Hwan Yi is the first soldier to shoot a perfect score in the Army's Marksmanship Master Trainer Course at Fort Moore.
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A soldier fires an M-4 in rifle qualification. The Marksmanship Master Trainer Course qualifies soldiers as marksmanship instructors for their home units. Army photo.

A drill sergeant who trains new recruits to be infantry soldiers became the first to shoot a perfect score over the five weeks of an Army course for marksmanship instructors.

Staff Sgt. Do Hwan Yi shot a perfect 170-out-of-170 on every critical shooting event at the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course at Fort Moore, Georgia in December.

He is the first soldier to not miss a single shot while completing the five-week course, which formally began in 2018. 

“As an infantry drill sergeant, it’s been my job to train civilians into not only soldiers but infantry soldiers and marksmanship is something that I take very seriously,” Yi told Task & Purpose. “I’ve taught hundreds of soldiers now and the reason I did what I did at the school house was I put into practice everything that I’ve taught my past soldiers.” 

Yi hit every shot in M4 Day Qualification, M4 Night Certification, M17 Qualification, Urban Rifle Marksmanship Day/Night Certification, and the Complex Certification.

Originally from Guam, Staff Sgt. Do Hwan Yi graduated from the Army sniper school at Fort Moore in 2023. In December, he became the first soldier to shoot a perfect 170-for-170 during the graded events of the Army’s Marksmanship Master Trainer Course, also at Fort Moore. Photo courtesy Do Hwan Yi.

Yi, who graduated from the Army’s sniper school, told Task & Purpose that, along with his training as an infantryman, he practices shooting on the weekends as a hobby. He said that if he expects his students to listen to him as an instructor, he feels obligated to be an expert shot. 

“I guess I just didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I just applied all the things that I’ve been teaching and it worked out for me,” he said. “I don’t shoot competitively or anything like that. I just wanna be good at it.”

Yi, 26, grew up in Dedeo, Guam and enlisted in the Army at 17.

“There’s almost no Army presence on Guam, but I knew I wanted to serve in some sort of combat role and that’s why I became an infantryman,” he said. “I just grew up seeing the [Global War on Terror] on the news and TV growing up and I knew that I was gonna join the Army at a very young age. When I was 17 and able to enlist, my parents signed off and joined the Army.”

In 2017, Yi deployed to Iraq for nine months with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

Though Yi’s MOS is 11B as an infantryman, he just completed an assignment as a drill sergeant with the 47th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Moore. He graduated from the sniper school last summer.

Yi said he went into the course with a “very good understanding of the basics of shooting” but the marksmanship training helped him improve. With his certification, Yi is now able to ‘train the trainer’ for any battalion. “I can take NCOs and then train them to be the trainers of a larger force,” he said.

The other benefit of the school, Yi said, was gaining an appreciation for training the next generation.

“I just love seeing someone come in either knowing very little or not knowing anything and then I can bring them up to speed to where they were much better at the end product,” Yi said. “Honestly, the best part about the school to me was that you have to demonstrate your ability to be able to shoot because it doesn’t make sense to teach something if you can’t do it yourself.”

Marksmanship trainer course

The Army first formalized its marksmanship training with the industrialization of military breech-loading rifles in the 1840s. By World War II, the U.S. and its allies found that the ratio of rounds fired to hits were low. When new training was developed, hit rates improved. Training switched from 300-yard slow fire testing to rapid fire testing with different time intervals, from 20 to 300 yards. 

Poor marksmanship was again a problem in Iraq and Afghanistan where soldiers were spending hundreds of rounds to hit three or fewer targets.

Training, the Army found, was again behind some of the issues. Though soldiers primarily fired from the prone position in training, laying flat was “not conducive” to the combat they found while deployed. Instead, troops needed training in rapid close quarters, medium range, and alternate position shooting.

The Marksmanship Master Trainer Course at Fort Moore, Georgia was formally recognized in 2018. The course is not aimed at direct combat skills like the sniper school, but instead teaches experienced soldiers to serve as their unit’s expert trainers when they return home. The course includes extensive training in rifle, short range and mid-range marksmanship,  along with administrative duties like unit training management, according to the Army. 

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The course is open to all active duty, reserve and national guard soldiers. There is no MOS requirement but participants have to be at least an E-5 to attend.

“Any leader in the Army that wants to improve themselves and improve the knowledge that they pass down to their junior soldiers can attend this course,” Yi said.

The course is five weeks long and includes classroom instructions on how to coach others, Army doctrine and strategy, as well as range practice on M4s and M17s during the day and at night.

The course “adds that additional skill set and it teaches you the capabilities of you and the weapon,” Yi said. 

Graduates must fire 70% or better on all shooting qualifications and 80% on all academic tests which includes understanding of ballistics, weapon sight manipulation, wind formulas and engagement techniques. Students also must engage stationary and moving targets from five to 600 meters away.

Yi said the hardest event was the final one, which is known as the complex qualification. During the event, soldiers have to shoot targets at a distance between 300 and 500 meters.

“Most soldiers never shoot past 300 meters. That’s the farthest they’ll ever engage at a standard qualification,” Yi said. “That was extremely difficult and I didn’t think I was gonna do well on that last engagement.” 

But the event proved to be no match for Yi. After finishing the final event, the branch chief of the course came out and congratulated him on being the first soldier to ever finish with a perfect score.

Yi has been a drill sergeant at Fort Moore for two years, but is transferring to Germany in two months to join the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. He would love to be a sniper section leader, but the Army could end up assigning him as a rifle squad leader, Yi said.

“From there I will apply everything that I learned at the school and throughout my career to better train the force and increase the lethality of the infantry,” he said.

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