MILITARY

Fewer orders, more coaching: Army rookies learn to fire guns

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 U.S. Army drill sergeants stand over recruits during a live-fire marksmanship training course at Fort Jackson, S.C. While some of the Army's newest recruits may have grown up using rifles to hunt or take target practice, the drill sergeants charged with turning 45,000 civilians into warriors every year say more than half may have never touched a gun. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 U.S. Army drill sergeants stand over recruits during a live-fire marksmanship training course at Fort Jackson, S.C. While some of the Army's newest recruits may have grown up using rifles to hunt or take target practice, the drill sergeants charged with turning 45,000 civilians into warriors every year say more than half may have never touched a gun. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 a U.S. Army recruit is instructed by a drill sergeant, right, during live-fire marksmanship training at Fort Jackson, S.C. While some of the Army's newest recruits may have grown up using rifles to hunt or take target practice, the drill sergeants charged with turning 45,000 civilians into warriors every year say more than half may have never touched a gun. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 a U.S. Army recruit is instructed by a drill sergeant, right, during live-fire marksmanship training at Fort Jackson, S.C. While some of the Army's newest recruits may have grown up using rifles to hunt or take target practice, the drill sergeants charged with turning 45,000 civilians into warriors every year say more than half may have never touched a gun. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 a U.S. Army drill sergeant kneels while overlooking recruits during live-fire marksmanship training at Fort Jackson, S.C.  As gun ownership among young Americans drops and the Army trains a new generation more accustomed to blasting out emojis on cellphones than taking aim at targets, drill sergeants are confronting a new challenge: More than half of raw recruits have never held, let alone fired, a weapon. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 a U.S. Army drill sergeant kneels while overlooking recruits during live-fire marksmanship training at Fort Jackson, S.C. As gun ownership among young Americans drops and the Army trains a new generation more accustomed to blasting out emojis on cellphones than taking aim at targets, drill sergeants are confronting a new challenge: More than half of raw recruits have never held, let alone fired, a weapon. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)  (The Associated Press)

As gun ownership among young Americans drops and the Army trains a new generation more accustomed to blasting out emojis on cellphones than taking aim at targets, drill sergeants are confronting a challenge: More than half of raw recruits have never held, let alone fired, a weapon.

A study of U.S. gun ownership reports teens and 20-somethings — who form the bulk of the Army's rookie soldiers — don't have nearly the exposure to guns as past generations.

So the drill sergeants tasked with transforming recruits into marksmen are adjusting their approach, adopting a more mentor-like approach while barking out fewer orders. At the largest basic combat training post — in South Carolina — they regularly offer guidance in measured tones as soldiers fire M-4s at distant targets.