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The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)

Article about: The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945) Foreword Army badges with crossed rifles within a cherry blossom, everybody knows that these were the army’s marks

  1. #1

    Default The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)

    The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)


    Army badges with crossed rifles within a cherry blossom, everybody knows that these were the army’s marksmanship proficiency badges, but absolutely no one in the collector world knows what the various color schemes, combining gold, silver and copper brown signified. People barely know that the color schemes represented different classes of proficiency with a military rifle, but that is as far as all the books can take you on the subject.

    Currently there are absolutely no books in any language that can explain what precisely the different color schemes meant, what was necessary to win them or how they evolved over the 57 years of their existence as metal badges.

    These points I will be revealing, here in full detail, for the very first time in postwar history. This is meant as a companion piece to the earlier story I wrote about navy gunnery proficiency badges. Both of these badges have the longest history among skill proficiency badges for the army and navy respectively, so following their evolution over the years, in essence, tells a story representative of all the existing proficiency badges, because the majority of those badges were set up following similar principles and took similar twists and turns in the course of their existence, typically much shorter than that of the marksmanship badge.

    For most of its history, the army marksmanship badges came in 4 color schemes, Gold with silver highlighting, Silver with gold highlights, Copper brown with gold highlights and finally Copper brown with silver highlights. This variety remained surprisingly constant over the years, but the significance of each badge variety changed quite dramatically to be utterly confusing for most researchers, who lack insight into the system in the background of these badges.

    First to come was a series of marksmanship training programs that evolved from a simple program to a highly sophisticated program to include anti-aircraft firing and various automatic firearms. With each edition of the training program, the training emphasis changed to reflect the needs of the times, and to steer the trainees in the right direction, different incentive schemes became necessary. Thus to research the evolution of these badges, one needs to grasp the evolution of the training programs first, and then link them up to the new badge schemes that always got announced slightly later and separately from the training program textbooks.

    Throughout the story, I have made the effort to show how these two separate components linked up to tell each section of a long story, so that readers who may wish to research other proficiency badges of interest to them can see what research steps are involved. I also used simplified color scheme symbols to minimize your confusion.

    Whether you are only interested in the marksmanship badges or in the whole series of army proficiency badges, enlightenment is finally here to guide you out of the darkness that has reigned for over 70 years. So greet the dawn of knowledge and enjoy the ride!
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 10:14 AM.

  2. #2


    1882 February, Humble Beginnings

    The army naturally promoted marksmanship actively from its inception and established its first regulations for marksmanship training on 15th March 1874. However, at this early time, there was no form of recognition of marksmanship skills in any visual form.

    On 15th February 1882, the army revised these Infantry Marksmanship Training Regulations (歩兵射的演習定則) and it was at this time that a badge of marksmanship proficiency was first established. However, this badge of excellence was still not yet a metal badge, but a cloth chevron insignia to be worn at the elbow.

    Articles 38 to 47 of this regulation defined the specifications of this insignia and how it could be won. According to these clauses, a marksmanship competition for enlisted men and NCOs were to be held annually and the insignia was supposed to be given out on the spot to honor those demonstrating high skills.

    The insignia awarded to NCOs was a scarlet, inverted V composed of a 1.5 cm wide strip of wool, with 3 mm thick golden bullion edging. The EM version was identical, only the edging was in yellow wool. Those who won this chevron were to wear it on their right uniform elbow and could wear it for the rest of their military service.

    The rate at which this insignia was awarded was 9 NCOs and 36 Enlisted Men for each regiment having 3 battalions. In case of regiments composed of 2 battalions, award numbers were to be reduced by 1/3, and further in case of independent battalions, numbers were to be reduced by 2/3.

    If an individual won this insignia multiple times, the additional insignia got located above the first chevron, and in case an enlisted man wearing this insignia got promoted to NCO, the NCO upgrade version of the insignia was to be issued at that time.

    The regimental commander was to announce the name of the insignia winners to the entire regiment, and the awarding date of the shooter’s insignia was also to be entered into the remarks column of the winner’s military pass.

    Furthermore, the company that won the intra-regiment competition, was granted a special 3-day leave as additional bonus.

    These chevrons were only used for a relatively short time, but as the historical roots of army marksmanship recognition, it would leave a lasting legacy in the form of marksmanship honor flags that appeared in 1907, having a scarlet background probably borrowed from this insignia.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 07:16 AM.

  3. #3


    1888 January, Birth of the Army Marksmanship Badges

    On 17th June 1887, the third edition of the army’s Shooting Manual (射撃教範) was announced as Army Ordinance 76. The sophistication of marksmanship training increased dramatically from this manual and therefore recognition of shooting skills also became more refined at this time. Article 188 of this new regulation defined two different categories of awards for marksmanship proficiency.

    One category of awarding was for one’s overall performance in the year-end score ratings from the year’s training routine (年度射撃). After roughly 15 rounds of sessions, those with a total score of above 80 points were rated as class 1 marksmen, those above 55 points as class 2 marksmen, and those below 55 as class 3 marksmen.

    From the high score earners in this category, there were two classes of marksmanship badges awarded.

    1. The highest honor was the Annual Marksmanship Competition First Prize Badge (年度射撃第一等章), which was only given to one soldier per regiment. Both NCOs (Master Sergeants曹長 were excluded) and Enlisted Men competed for this badge and the badge was awarded regardless of rank.

    2. For the runner-ups in this category, an Annual Marksmanship Competition Badge (年度射撃徽章) was given out to the next 35 high score earners in case of a 3-battalion regiment, and to the next 23 scorers in 2-battalion regiments. The top 12 shooters in independent battalions also earned this annual honor. This badge, unlike the first prize badge, was only for the top shooters among enlisted men, so all NCOs were excluded. When tied scores occurred, an extended match was held until the tie was broken.

    The other competition category was a shoot-out score competition among 1st class marksmen (競点射撃). There was one contest for NCO (excluding master sergeants) first-class shooters and another for first-class enlisted men shooters.

    The EM competition would include contestants that had won the annual marksmanship badges and those within the regiment who were considered to be 1st class marksmen. A 3-battalion regiment will field 96 contestants (64 in 2-battalion regiments, 32 in an independent battalion). Contestants were to take 6 shots at a target 200 meters away in one of the official postures of standing, kneeling or prone positions. The target featured 3 concentric circles and the scores were 3 points for the center circle, 2 points for the next and 1 point for the outermost circle. Contestants were ranked in the order of highest scores regardless of how many of the 6 shots met the target. In case of ties, further shots were fired until the tie was broken.

    3. The best shooters for the NCO and EM shoot-out competitions were each awarded the First Prize Badge for the Marksmanship Score Competition (競点射撃第一等章).

    4. The next 3 runners-up in the NCO contest (next 2 runners-up in case of 2-battalion regiments, and 1 runner-up for an independent battalion) got the Marksmanship Score Competition Badge (競点射撃徽章).

    5. Likewise, in the EM shoot-out contest, the enlisted man with the highest score in the regiment got the First Prize Badge for the Marksmanship Score Competition (競点射撃第一等章).

    6. And 11 runners-up (7 runners-up for 2-battalion regiments and 3 runners-up for independent battalions) got the Marksmanship Score Competition Badge (競点射撃徽章).

    The 4 types of badges, won in the 6 categories of competitions above, were to be worn on the left chest and when an individual had more than one badge, they were to be worn from the wearer’s right to left in the following order--

    Position 1: Annual Marksmanship Competition First Prize Badge (年度射撃第一等章)
    Position 2: First Prize Badge for the Marksmanship Score Competition (競点射撃第一等章)
    Position 3: Annual Marksmanship Competition Badge (年度射撃徽章)
    Position 4: Marksmanship Score Competition Badge (競点射撃徽章)

    Both types of first prize badges were to be worn throughout that individual’s active service, and both types of runner-up awards were only to be worn for the one-year period in which the individual qualified for that position.

    All badges were presented in a solemn ceremony in the presence of the entire regiment and the regimental commander was required to issue a statement naming the winners. The winners were to have the class of the badge and award date duly recorded in his military pass book. Their names were also kept on the bill boards in the recreation rooms. However, probably what the winners appreciated the most was the 4 weeks of leave the regimental commander would grant badge winners as a special bonus, provided that they were also soldiers with a good and clean service record.

    The badges as defined in the new shooting manual of 17th June 1887 were finally announced on 26th January 1888 as Army Ordinance 14. Design details, classes and wear method of these first generation marksmanship badges were as illustrated below.

    At this time, the Murata rifle had already been adopted by the IJA in 1880, but the stylized rifles featured on the shooter’s badges seem to resemble more the earlier 1866 French Chassepot rifle, 2,000 of which had been supplied to the Tokugawa Shogunate free of charge courtesy of Napoleon the Third for equipping two regiments. A further 10,000 units were imported by the Shogunate soon after. The Chassepot design converted to take metal cartridges was the French model 1874 Gras, so it could have also been the Gras, but either way, the rifles featured on the badge show the barrel of the gun fully exposed from the chamber forward with no wooden front hand guard as present on the Murata rifle
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)   The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  

    The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 07:34 AM.

  4. #4


    1894, March: The purpose of the 4 Badges changed without altering designs

    The next revision to the marksmanship manual (歩兵射撃教範) came on 24th March 1894 as army ordinance 22.

    This new regulation split marksmen into 4 classes instead of 3 as was the case before.

    All soldiers in their first year of army life were categorized as (3) Third Class Marksmen (三等射手).

    Those that passed the courses for Third Class moved up to become (2) Second Class Marksmen (二等射手), and further to (1) First Class Marksmen (一等射手) by passing the Second Class Courses.

    Furthermore, officers and NCOs that passed the First Class courses for two years in a row or shooter-ace NCOs and EM already in possession of a Type 2 Badge could be promoted to (0) Special Marksmen (特別射手).

    The variations of badges awarded remained four types, but the purpose of awarding was redefined to reward the top annual shooters among the 4 classes of Marksmanship ranks explained above.

    Type 1 Badge for Special Marksmen (第一種: 特別射手)--------------limited to 3 badges per regiment

    Type 2 Badge for First Class Marksmen (第二種: 一等射手)----------limited to 2 NCOs per battalion and 2 Enlisted Men per company.

    Type 3 Badge for Second Class Marksmen (第三種: 二等射手)------limited to 2 Enlisted Men per company.

    Type 4 Badge for Third Class Marksmen (第四種: 三等射手)--------limited to 1 Enlisted Man per company.

    The skill level of the shooters was determined by the number of shots the soldier had to take to achieve satisfactory scores to finish the annual marksmanship course (歩兵年度射撃). Thus the one who passed the course with the least number of shots fired was rated the top shooter. When there was a tie in the total number of shots, the number of hits, scored on man-shaped targets, was considered. If a tie still needed to be broken, the higher score for that session decided the winner.

    These badges of honor were presented to the winners in the presence of the entire regiment, the NCOs being awarded by the regimental commander and the enlisted men by the battalion commander.

    All badges could be worn throughout the individual’s military service. The wear position was the left chest at a height of between the second and third buttons. When multiple badges were worn, they were worn from the wearer’s right to the left in the order of Type 1 to 4.

    All 4 badge designs were carried over from the 1888 regulations, but the name of the badge series got changed to Infantry Annual Marksmanship Recognition Badges (歩兵年度射撃褒賞徽章) and the former annual 1st prize badge became the Type 1 Badge, the former Score Contest 1st Prize Badge became the Type 2, the former annual runner-up badge became the Type 3 and the Score Contest runner-up badge simply became Type 4.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)   The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 07:41 AM.

  5. #5


    1901 January, Army Combat Engineers join the Marksmanship Badge Program

    The need to promote marksmanship was not unique to Infantry, but applied to other branches as well. In case of Army combat engineers, their marksmanship training program was embodied in the form a regulation issued on 22nd November 1887 called the Combat Engineer Marksmanship Training Program ( 工兵射撃演習教令). Though this program was initiated slightly later than the infantry’s program that launched the first generation metal badges, the engineers did not win any visual recognition for marksmanship skills and the reward was instead a 4-week leave.

    However, when the engineer’s marksmanship program got revamped in January of 1901, the new rules included badges for shooting proficiency. This was followed by a memo dated 23rd August 1901, confirming that the badges in question were to be the badges already in use by the Infantry since 1888, which had been renamed in 1895. This announcement was officially made to the entire army on 17th September 1901 in the form of army ordinance 57 issued in the name of Gentaro Kodama (later hero of the Russo-Japanese War), as Minister of the Army.

    1907 March, Type 4 Marksmanship Badge discontinued for Infantrymen

    Thus infantrymen and combat engineers shared the identical badge program for some years from 1901, but in early 1907, the infantry decided to update its marksmanship program again and introduced a provisionary program (歩兵射撃教範草案) on 13th March 1907.

    The normal procedure was to put the revised program into effect from the beginning of the following year to give enough time for preparations, including a new badge line-up, if necessary, but that year they decided to go ahead with the change middle of the year.

    Thus companies that had launched that year’s training program based on the old regulations were to follow the old book up to the point reached by the most advanced company of the division, but switch to the new provisional program from that point.

    This switching of training programs, on the fly, also required an adjustment to how the marksmanship badges were to be awarded at the end of the season. That was because the provisional scheme had merged the former two upper classes (Class 1 and 2 Marksmen) into one program, now called Class 1 and the former beginner class (Class 3) was now called class 2.

    Therefore soldiers in the former Class 1 and 2 grades were now required to go through a new Class 1 training program, and those finishing the course at the top of the class got the Type 2 Badge for Class 1 Marksmen.

    A document dated 31st July 1908 implied that this change became necessary due to a clause in the military service regulations that allowed the normally 2-year military service to be reduced for certain individuals when a surplus in active service personnel occurred (帰休兵制度). Thus a shortcut had to be devised for marksmanship training. 

    In other words, this provisional 1907 program reclassified all beginners as 2nd class Marksmen (the 1894 regulations had them as 3rd class) and those that successfully passed the courses for 2nd class marksmen became 1st class marksmen. And those that successfully made it through the 1st class courses for two years in a row or those already in possession of type 2 marksmanship badges were promoted to "special marksman" status. 

    As before, the various badges were for graduating each course at the top of the class, but as a result of knocking out the 3rd class marksmen program, there was no longer any need for the Type 4 badge (copper brown body with silver flanges around the petals).

    So the awarding started with a Type 3 badge for those passing the 2nd Class course at a ratio of 1/20 of enlisted men for each company.

    The Type 2 badge was for the top graduates of the 1st class course and was given out at a rate of 1/16 NCOs per battalion and 1/18 of enlisted men per company.

    Finally the Type 1 badges for ace shooters were won at a rate of 1/15 per company (including both NCOs and men).

    As before, finishing the program with the least number of shots fired was the criteria of skill level and officers, warrant officers and master sergeants could not compete for the badges.

    In this way, the Type 4 Badge was dropped from the Infantryman’s awards in 1907, and would be reserved for Combat Engineers.

    It was also from this regulation change that a citation in the name of the regimental commander was required to accompany the awarding of the badge. The awarding continued to take place in the presence of the entire regiment, NCOs being presented the badges from the regimental commander and enlisted men from their battalion commander.

    As before, the badges could be worn on uniforms for as long as the individual remained in military service.

    Another noteworthy change made at this time was the lowering of the wear position on the left chest. Now they were to be worn at a height between the third and fourth buttons, instead of the previous height between the second and third buttons. They gave no reason for this shift downwards, but it is easy to imagine that it had to do with making enough room for wearing of medal bars above. By this time, 4 war medals had already been issued, not to mention the commemorative medals, so the combination with medal bars would have become awkward by that time.

    The Marksmanship Honor Banner

    Another new innovation launched in the provisional 1907 marksmanship program was the awarding of a best marksmanship company banner (射撃名誉旗). The navy had already launched an honor banner program for combat skills in February 1907, so the army was close on the heels of the navy in introducing a banner of their own.

    The idea for instituting this banner is attributed to General Major Taro Senba (仙波太郎), who as a Captain had served as military attaché in Prussia for 3 years from 1890 and, having learned German style marksmanship, borrowed the Prussian tradition. 

    At the discretion of the Divisional commander, an annual shooting match for honor (名誉射撃) was organized. Targets and ranges were set up differently each year, but once these rules for that year’s contest was established, no further live ammunition practice was allowed until the contest.

    This was an intra-division competition between all companies of the regiment, so all officers, NCOs and men of each regiment were expected to take part, in a show of team spirit, with each required to take a minimum of four shots. The winning company kept the banner until the next year’s competition, at which time, it was returned to the divisional commander.

    The presentation of the banner took place in the presence of all regiments of the division, sharing the same base and was presented to the commander of the winning company by the divisional commander. A citation in the name of the divisional commander and addressed to the company accompanied the flag. In this regard, the navy had introduced silver rings with the winning vessel name to be fixed to the banner pole, but the army did not do this.

    Winning these flags had an additional benefit during the divisional war game maneuvers in the fall. During these games, when teams clashed against each other, if one team was led by a company flying this flag, the umpire would automatically declare that team the winner. Winning the flag was often celebrated by making a commemorative photo album of the event, which is occasionally seen.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)   The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  

    The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)   The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 08:02 AM.

  6. #6


    The 1911 Manual is issued

    The provisional program ran for some years and was finally made official, as the last edition of the manual (歩兵射撃教範) for the Meiji era was released in the name of the emperor on 28th January 1911. They slightly tweaked the award ratios of the badges from the 1907 rules, but otherwise there were no big changes to the awarding of badges.

    However, from this time, the Honor Banner was no longer a company prize, but a regimental prize for the highest scoring regiment within the Division. So the presentation was now also to the regimental commander from the divisional commander. Likewise, the citations were addressed to the winning regiment as well.

    This manual of 1911 described the shooting program for combat engineer battalions at the end. According to this, the awarding of Type 4 badges (no longer awarded to infantry members) was at a rate of 1/26 of enlisted men per company, Type 3 badges were also awarded at the same ratio, and the Type 2 badges to 1/15 of the NCOs per battalion and 1/26 of enlisted men per company. The Type 1 badge was for 1/15 of the NCOs per battalion. There was, however, no honor banner for engineers.

    Ever since the combat engineers also started to receive marksmanship badges in January 1901, it had actually become inappropriate to keep calling the badge by its old 1895 naming of “Infantry Annual Marksmanship Recognition Badges” (歩兵年度射撃褒賞徽章), and furthermore by the provisional program of 1907, which no longer required the Type 4 badge for infantrymen, but still retained it for the combat engineers, it would have become clear that the infantry did not have sole claim to the badge anymore.

    Thus belatedly on 28th May 1912, in the final days of the Meiji era, the name was switched to “Infantry and Combat Engineer Annual Marksmanship Recognition Badges” (歩兵及び工兵年度射撃褒賞徽章).

    Changes supposedly made to the badge design from 1912

    I have no documentary proof of this, but according to a fellow Japanese researcher I trust, from this time, the name of the badge that used to be featured on the back of the badge in relief was finally dropped and the reverse side was left completely blank. Instead, the name and class (type) were only shown on the paulownia wooden case the badges came in. He also said the cherry blossom petals got slightly enlarged and the rifle’s shape was slightly changed to show more of a Type 38 rifle’s likeness, though it still remained a Chassepot rifle in overall impression.

    Removing the badge name from the rear meant a striking die change, so it is highly credible that minor design changes occurred at this time. It also means that any badge with a name in relief on the back can be dated to the Meiji period.

    The 1913 Manual Update

    Another update manual got issued in August 1913

    This manual in its draft form had actually attempted to return the honor banner back to a company prize once again. but for some reason, the final edition kept it unchanged as a regimental prize.

    Besides the flag, badge awarding ratios were now set as follows.

    Type 1 Badge for Special Marksmen------1/15 per regiment
    Type 2 Badge for 1st Class Marksmen----1/15 NCOs per battalion, 1/18 EM per company
    Type 3 Badge for 2nd Class Marksmen---1/18 EM per company

    NCOs received the badge from regimental commanders and EM from battalion commanders.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 08:11 AM.

  7. #7


    The 1929 Revamp of manuals & badges, and the discontinuation of the Honor Banner

    The Taisho era (1912 to 1925) was a quiet period for the marksmanship badge program. As this was a period of worldwide demilitarization, there were regiments being discontinued and transfers to other regiments. Also shortened military service became more prevalent. Thus whether to apply the award ratios including such transient members came up for discussion in the early 1920s, but such tweaking did not change the overall concept, so I will skip those inconsequential hairsplitting discussions.

    I should, however, point out that a report dated 30th September 1920, summarizing lessons learned in WW1, emphasized the need to switch marksmanship training to stress closer range accuracy rather than long range as was previously the case. Trench warfare had brought targets closer, and the Germans had already even concluded that accuracy at 800 meters was sufficient. So training sharpshooters that could kill 100% within that range was now where marksmanship was going. Also, teamwork with machine gun crews was felt to be a new direction that future marksmanship training should explore.

    Based on such WW1 lessons, the next major change to the program came in the 4th year of Showa, in 1929. On 29th March 1929, it was decided to discontinue the Infantry Marksmanship Training Manual as well as the Cavalry Marksmanship Training Manual and instead issue an integrated Marksmanship Training Manual that covered shooting rifles, light machine guns, and pistols (小銃、軽機関銃、拳銃射撃教範).

    Accordingly, this new regulation redefined the badges as Rifle Marksmanship Recognition Badges (小銃射撃褒賞徽章) and set up classes as follows.

    1. NCO Badge (下士徽章) for awarding to 1 NCO per battalion.
    Battalion commanders were to hold annual NCO shooting matches to single out a winner for the NCO badge. By introducing a badge specific to NCOs they aimed to stress NCO level skills.

    2. Special Badge (特別徽章) for awarding to second year special EM marksmen (2 badges per company)

    3. Type 1 Badge (第一種徽章) for awarding of second year EM riflemen (excluding special marksmen above) 1/20 of EM per company

    4. Type 2 Badge (第二種徽章) for awarding of first year EM riflemen 1/18 of EM per company

    Company commanders were to choose winners for the Special, Type 1 and Type 2 Badges from those passing the annual courses with the highest scores.

    Winners were to receive citations in the name of the regimental commander and awarding took place in the presence of the entire regiment, the regimental commander giving out the NCO awards and the battalion commander presenting the EM awards.

    Wear position remained at a height between the third and fourth buttons, and this will not change until 1945. This regulation also provided the criteria for awarding the same badges to cavalry members, combat engineers as well as transport troops, but I will omit those and stick to criteria for infantry only for consistency’s sake.

    Another point that should be noted is that the Marksmanship Honor Banner for Infantry was discontinued at this time. As it was still quiet times, before the Manchurian Incident broke out to start a snowballing military conflict, there was a generally shortened 1.5-year (instead of 2 years) military service program in effect.

    This curtailed program meant that involving the second year soldiers in the competition required setting up the competition early enough before their discharge, which would catch the first year recruits in the middle of their training and cause serious disruption in the training. On the other hand, making it a competition only for first-year soldiers went against the spirit of full regimental participation. Having separate dates for 1st year and 2nd year soldiers was also considered, but that would have doubled the organizational workload and aggravated disruption. So, reluctantly, it was decided to discontinue the 22-year tradition.

    Lt. General Taro Senba, the man who brought this German tradition back to Japan, had just passed away the month before, so the timing was ironically right for the difficult decision.

    However, this tradition will once again be revived in 1939, when militarization was back in full swing as a result of the China Incident and the army was no longer hampered by shortened military service programs. The reincarnated flag, however, will have a slightly different design, as we’ll see later.

    The badge designs to match this new regulation were announced to the public in the government gazette of 28th May 1929, which is shown below. Note also that from this change the hitherto vaulted design of the badges became flat.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 09:44 AM.

  8. #8


    The 1939 Badges for all-round weapons skills

    Further integration of firearms shooting manuals occurred in June 1939, when the army compiled a huge manual of weapons firing skills common to all branches of the army. This manual, composed of several volumes was called “General Shooting Manual for all branches” (諸兵射撃教範). Volume 2 of this manual series dealt with rifles, machine guns and knee mortars, pistols and hand grenades.

    The line-up of badges was now as follows.

    1. NCO Badge (下士官徽章) for Infantry.
    1 badge per battalion (for cavalry, 1 per regiment). This badge took into consideration the total scores achieved by the NCOs in the special regimental shooting matches with both rifles and light machine guns. So the badge name for the NCO badge was now Rifle & LMG Marksmanship Badge (小銃軽機関銃射撃徽章)

    2. EM Special Rifle Shooting Badge (小銃特別徽章)
    Awarded at a ratio of 1 in every 5 first year Special Marksmen (特別射手) and second year Special Marksmen. We can see the emphasis on sharpshooting in this way, a lesson from WW1.

    3. EM Regular Rifle Shooting Badge (小銃普通徽章)
    At a ratio of 1 for every 20 first year or second year riflemen in each company. 

    Both EM badges were based on total scores of those who passed the various courses.

    All three badges were presented by the regimental commander in the presence of the assembled regiment, and were accompanied by a citation in the name of the regimental commander. (Note that EM badges used to be given out before by their battalion commanders).

    The newly designed badges matching this June 1939 edition of the training manual was announced on 17th November 1939, as shown below. The blossom petals are markedly different from previous designs.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 08:29 AM.

  9. #9


    Special Marksman Arm Patches

    In addition to the badges, those with high scores recognized as Special Marksmen (特別射手) were to be issued an arm patch (特別射手臂章) upon appointment, as of 27th November 1939 (Army Ordinance 54). All special marksmen received this arm patch, and those wearing these patches competed for the Special Rifle Shooting Badge discussed above. The patch was worn on the right arm slightly higher than elbow height. They were in woven (Bevo) style with wool backing added to the back.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  
    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 09:45 AM.

  10. #10


    1939, Marksmanship Honor Banner revived

    After an absence of 10 years, the Marksmanship Honor Banner was revived along with the new badges, but with a new design to signify the need for all-around weapons skills. It was also back to the 1907 scheme of being presented to the best company instead of regiment.

    Every year, Infantry Regiments were to hold a Special Shooting Match (歩兵連隊特別射撃) for each training season and the Regimental Commander was to select the company with the highest total scores for awarding the Marksmanship Honor Banner (射撃名誉旗). The match consisted of shooting skills with Rifles, Light machine guns and Heavy Mortars as well as Hand Grenade throwing accuracy. Thus unlike before, no honor matches, specific for winning the banner, were organised, as the hype of such intensified competition was judged to be counterproductive in many cases. 

    Unlike the former practice (1911-1929) of making it an intra-division competition between regiments, the matches were now carried out as intra-regiment competitions between companies. The commander of the victorious company received the flag from the regimental commander in the presence of the entire regiment along with a citation addressed to the company. The banner was held by that company until the following year’s match.

    The banner was to be displayed at ceremonies and field maneuvers in which the company participated. For those outings of the banner, the company commander was to assign a NCO or a Private First Class as bearer. The pole of the banner could be attached to the rifle for carrying and could be furled up and concealed in a protective cover when needed.

    The banners were to be procured and repaired by the regiment.

    The competition for the banner no longer involved regimental commanders losing face, and that obviously took a lot of pressure off the men. The back and forth seesawing between a regimental prize and company prize was all about striking the right balance between being a good incentive and being a constructive training tool, as the IJA had learned that those two factors were not always compatible.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)   The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Marksmanship badges (1882-1945)  

    Last edited by nick komiya; 08-24-2018 at 09:46 AM.

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