SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii –
“Lines are ready, switch your selector lever from safe to semi, and fire when ready,” bellowed from the loudspeaker on a beautiful Hawaii morning at the small arms rifle range on Schofield Barracks, as Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 9th Mission Support Command honed their basic marksmanship skills and participated in their annual weapons qualification requirement, March 23-24.
Master Sgt. Sonny Bautista, U.S. Army Pacific-Support Unit, 9th Mission Support Command, Army Reserve, and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the rifle range, expressed the necessity for weapons qualification in the Army Reserve.
“We’re here to ensure everyone qualifies today,” said Bautista. “No matter how long it takes, we’ll keep coaching them until they feel comfortable with their weapon, and they walk away qualified on the M4 carbine rifle, or their M9 pistol.”
From weapon zeroing to qualification, Soldiers enjoyed the opportunity to once again fire their weapon. For those who failed to qualify on the first attempt, they held their chin up, picked up their weapon, and got back in line to try again.
Approximately 5,687 5.56mm rounds and 1,000 9mm rounds were fired downrange during the weekend, ensuring Soldier readiness.
“Range day is always a great day,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar Diaz, USARPAC-SU’s senior enlisted leader. “It’s a beautiful day and a great day to be in the Army.”
There are three proficiency levels of rifle marksmanship in the Army: expert, which requires the shooter to hit a minimum of 36 out of 40 targets; sharpshooter, which requires the shooter to hit a minimum of 30 out of 40 targets; and marksman, which requires the shooter to hit a minimum of 23 out of 40 targets.
When firing the 9MM pistol, generally reserved for the officer ranks and senior enlisted leaders, the shooter must hit a minimum of 26 out of 30 targets to achieve expert status, a minimum of 21 for sharpshooter, and 16 to qualify with his basic marksmanship badge.
Soldiers are required to shoot in a prone-supported, prone-unsupported, and kneeling position for the M4, and a standing, crouching and prone-unsupported position for the 9MM pistol. However, it’s not all fun and games on the range; safety is always prevalent!
Safety was continually stressed, and according to Capt. Diego Palma with USARPAC-SU, the officer in charge of the range, everyone was authorized to call a ‘cease fire’ if they observed an unsafe act, resulting in a complete shutdown of the range until safe corrections were made.
Palma pointed out that due to the nature of Army Reserve training, Soldiers generally only see their weapons a few times per year, so this was a great learning experience for them. They were able to become familiar with their weapon and gain confidence by qualifying.
All 47 M4 shooters, and all 23 M9 shooters qualified during the Battle Assembly, meeting the Army Reserve’s goal of 100 percent Soldier readiness.
“This training is paramount to Soldier readiness,” added Diaz. “It’s our number one job. It meets our general’s objective and the Army’s objective, to be ready and fully mission capable.”
“Cease fire, cease fire. Lock and clear all weapons,” sounded as the dust settled, and the smell of gunpowder subsided. The weekend wrapped with the last task all Soldiers love… cleaning their weapon.