NEWS | Dec. 23, 2020

469th Engineer Company Soldiers hone shooting skills at Fort McCoy

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division Public Affairs

Soldiers with the 469th Engineer Company spent the first weekend in December qualifying and familiarizing themselves with various individual weapons at Fort McCoy, Wis.

While the sun sank in a clear sky over Range 100 on Fort McCoy’s South Post, the Soldiers, whose unit headquartered in Dodgeville, Wis., 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 same 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 said he enjoyed spending the afternoon on the range.

“Practicing the M9 is always a vital skill to learn,” Fontanez-Acevedo said. “It’s a key task to be sharp on. The M9 is easy to handle but at the same time you don’t want to lose the skills.”

Fontanez-Acevedo further said 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 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee sophomore learned a few important lessons during the training. He said there is the necessity of making sure he’s warm as the temperature was in the lower 40s with a slight breeze. Additionally, he said, “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.”

Despite the cold, Fontanez-Acevedo said the training went well, and the cold didn’t prevent him from performing well on the firing line.

“Of course I’m my own worst critic, but I would say I did pretty well,” he said.

Fontanez-Acevedo also said the next time he fires the M9 he’ll focus on the lining up the sights better along with doing better with his basic shooting skills.

The 469th Engineer Company leadership also did spend a lot of time ensuring that the COVID-19 safety requirements set out by the Army Reserve, 88th Readiness Division, and Fort McCoy were followed.

First Sgt. Bradley Schmoll with the 469th said that a number of Soldiers weren’t able to attend the training at Fort McCoy because they either had COVID-19 or had been exposed to others who had the virus.