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NEWS | Dec. 9, 2020

Combat Engineers Hone M9 Skills

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

Soldiers from the 469th Engineer Company located in Dodgeville, Wis., spent the first weekend in December qualifying and familiarizing themselves with various individual weapons here.

While the sun sank in a clear sky over Range 100, the Soldiers lined up at the firing line to test their skills with the M9 pistol. They had 40 rounds to hit 30 pop-up targets in a specified amount of time during the various tables. For example, for Table 2 the shooters had two magazines which they changed out on their own. For Table 5 the shooters had to practice ejecting and inserting a one-, seven- and five-round magazine. The shooters were also challenged by taking half steps toward the target, stopping when it popped up then firing without going beyond the red safety marker.

Later in the weekend the 12B Combat Engineers familiarized themselves with the M17 pistol, and conducted primary marksmanship instruction on the new M4/M16 rifle qualification table.

One of the Soldiers qualifying on the range was Sgt. Genaro Fontanez-Acevedo. He enjoyed spending the afternoon on the range. “Practicing the M9 is always a vital skill to learn. It’s a key task to be sharp on,” he said. The M9 “is easy to handle but at the same time you don’t want to lose the skills.”

Fontanez-Acevedo went on to explain why the training positively impacts unit and individual training. “It’s important to make sure our skills are always sharp. If we’re slipping in our skills that’s not good for anybody and a lot of things can go bad,” he said.

The UW-Milwaukee sophomore learned a few important lessons during the training. He noted the necessity of making sure he’s warm, as the temperature was in the lower 40s with a slight breeze. Additionally, “I need to make sure I can eject the magazine better and make sure there is no cleaning oil on the weapon, otherwise it can slip,” he said.

Despite the cold, Fontanez-Acevedo said the training so far “has been smooth. I’m having fun.”

Apparently the cold didn’t prevent him was performing well on the firing line. “Of course I’m my own worst critic, but I would say I did pretty well” today qualifying with the M9 pistol. Fontanez-Acevedo noted that the next time he fires the M9 he’ll focus on the lining up the sights better along with the basics, like breathing.

The 469th Engineer Company leadership spent a lot of time ensuring that the COVID-19 requirements laid out by the Army Reserve, 88th Readiness Division and Fort McCoy were met. First Sgt. Bradley Schmoll said that a number of Soldiers weren’t able to come to Fort McCoy because they either had COVID-19 or had been exposed to others who had the virus.

Ultimately, it’s about staying healthy to train another day.