|Story & Photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems and
Weapons qualification may seem like a simple and very
basic task on a list of approximately 20 warrior tasks that all
mobilizing Soldiers are required to successfully complete and certify on
during their training at Fort McCoy.
This task is the most important one of all, according to Stan Seipel,
lead supervisor for range operations.
With both thumbs pressing on the
“butterfly” trigger, Pvt. Jesse Stull keeps his eye focused on
the rear iron sight of the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun he is
firing on a Fort McCoy range. Stull is with the 162nd Engineer
Company of Dallas, Ore., which is training to deploy in support
of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The number one reason the weapons training and qualification is
conducted is to save Soldiers’ lives and to protect their comrades
during a time when they may need to use that weapon, while operating in
a threat environment.”
“Mobilization training will be their last chance to live-fire and
qualify with their assigned weapons before they deploy,” Seipel said.
“Weapons qualification includes learning how to operate their weapons
while building Soldiers’ proficiency, confidence and trust to employ the
weapon the way it was designed to be utilized.”
Weapons that Soldiers are trained on during their mobilization training
at Fort McCoy consist of the; M-16 series/M-4 rifle, M-249 squad
automatic rifle, M-249 light machine gun, M-240B light machine gun, M-2
.50-caliber machine gun, M-203 grenade launcher, MK-19 40MM grenade
machine gun and the M-9 pistol.
Weapons qualification conducted on live-fire ranges consists of hitting
a target or targets. Distances are as close as seven meters for
individual weapons and up to 1,300 meters for crew-served weapon
systems. Some of the positions the weapons are fired from are the prone,
kneeling, standing, and a series that includes firing while wearing
protective masks, on some of these weapon systems.
The 181st Infantry Brigade weapons team conducts all pre-marksmanship
training (PMT) for all mobilizing Soldiers.
PMT training is conducted before Soldiers move to a live-fire range and,
more specifically, it is designed to prepare them for the range.
At a minimum PMT consists of; disassembly, cleaning and re-assembly of
weapons, Seipel said.