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NEWS | Nov. 9, 2021

USAR Soldiers take their first shot at new qualification course

By Spc. Christie Ann Belfort 362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 304th Regiment (USMA), 104th Training Division (Leader Training), completed the new Army weapons qualification at the Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (DRFTA), here, Oct. 23, 2021.

The 3-304th focused their efforts on familiarizing and qualifying Soldiers in the battalion on the new weapons qualification standard during the first drill of the fiscal year. The new weapons qualification consists of Engagement Skills Trainer (EST), group and zero, and a pop-up target range.

“Yesterday and today was to familiarize those Soldiers with the new tables of fire,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Thibeau, a signal support specialist with the 3-304th.

For the majority of Soldiers in the battalion, this was the first time going through the new weapons qualification process, which simulates realistic scenarios that can be applied to current operations.

“A lot of these Soldiers never fired a weapon standing and kneeling next to a bunker,” explained Staff Sgt. Daryl Reed, Range Safety Officer with the 3-304th. “From the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, we weren’t firing from foxholes, but from behind cover in urban areas.”

“I haven’t fired wearing a pro-mask before,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Fullam with the 3-304th. “I think it helps with adapting and I really like it.”

“This new weapons qualification is more engaging verses the old weapons qualification,” said Sgt. Caleb Coombe, human resources specialist for Alpha Company with the 3-304th. “Soldiers are going through the different stages of standing, kneeling, and crouching making it more applicable to what you see in real world combat.”

In addition to increasing their readiness, the new weapons qualifications boosted their confidence as well.

“This training is improving our readiness in case we deploy,” said Coombe. “It’s nice to hear Soldiers announce their scores.”

Despite the changes and new process, the unit was excited to get the whole battalion through the new qualification, explained Reed. “I think that everyone’s performance has been excellent.”