Camp Perry, OH: Soldiers take time out to teach new shooters
By Michael Molinaro
Every summer at Camp Perry, Ohio, prior to the National Rifle and Pistol Trophy Matches, Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit take time out of their own training to pass their knowledge and shooting skills on to the next generation of American shooters.
The Small Arms Firing School was instituted in 1918 by the Department of Defense and is conducted by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. The school is held so the military can teach the efficient application of the fundamentals of marksmanship, said Sgt. 1st Class Jason St. John, USAMU. His team is assisted by members of the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army Reserve and National Guard.
The concept sprang up so that civilians would have familiarity with the weapon and could make a smooth transition from civilian to Soldier if the nation's security situation became unstable. More than 1,000 eager-to-learn shooters took part in this year's class.
"We are teaching civilians so that in a time of war, with the knowledge that they have and if it's a real bad deal, then they can help out the military," said Sgt. 1st Class Lance Dement, USAMU. "But they are also going to become competitive shooters. We're going to show them what is right and stress to them the basics of shooting."
The day starts with classroom instruction and covers everything from the functioning of the weapon to proper positioning. The instructors are among the best in the field, as evident at the pistol class, where 2009 National Pistol Champion Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson of the USAMU was among the lead instructors.
After a few hours in the classroom, the students make the short trek to the range and get a feel for the weapon in dry-fire simulation. There are two students per military instructor.
Upon their return from lunch, students load live rounds into the chamber and shoot, some for the very first time. The USAMU provides M-16A2 rifles for the students to use and installs a block to deny the use of the "burst" or automatic function on the rifle.
The school ends with a sanctioned Excellence in Competition match where shooters are afforded the opportunity to earn four points toward their distinguished badge.
...All walks of life took part in the class-men, women and children. The students ranged in age from 11 to 70, St. John said. State junior shooting teams showed up, families planned their family vacations around the trip to Perry, and others flew a very far distance to learn from the best military in the world.
...The class enables the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit to connect with America. The dedication, professionalism and expertise the Soldiers demonstrate to the students instill positive impressions of the Army that may help prospective candidates in their decision to enter the Army, officials said.
Click here for the entire story by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit public affairs officer.