CAMP NAVAJO, Arz. –
Led by Capt. Jonathon Carnegie, 505th Signal Brigade chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear officer, 42 505th Signal Brigade Soldiers traveled to Camp Navajo in Arizona for weapons familiarization training September 22-25, 2022.
Yearly, Soldiers must go to the gunnery range and qualify on a designated weapon system, usually a 9-millimeter handgun or a 4-millimeter rifle. In order for a Soldier to qualify, he or she must score 24 out of 40 to be a marksman, 30 to 35 to be a sharpshooter, and 36 to 40 to be called an expert. During this training session, the focus was on the M4 rifle.
Army basic marksmanship training consists of three phases. This training lasts approximately two to three weeks and ends with qualification testing, where one must pass with a minimum score in order to proceed to graduation.
In the first phase, one learns how to disassemble, clean and reassemble their weapon as well as learning safe handling procedures. During the second phase, the Soldier fires their weapon, the objective being to familiarize themselves with the weapon, getting used to safely and accurately handling the weapon. The final phase is going to the range and shooting. Firearms and ammunition used on the range may be subject to inspection at any time.
“The first challenge for us is dealing with the logistics, preparing the munitions, identifying the NCOs who will manage the range, and focusing on safety,” said Capt. Carnegie. “Once we hit the range, we get more familiar with the weapon, build camaraderie, and create good Army values, making sure the young Soldiers learn the basics.”
A lot of the heavy lifting during weapons qualification is done by the logistic section. Sgt. Lizeth Saldivar and Spc. Alfonso Martinez had many tasks including, issuing weapons and ammunition, assuring that every round is accounted for, and bringing all the supplies needed to maintain the range.
“As Reserve Soldiers we have critical objectives to accomplish and one is going to the range for weapons qualification at least two times a year,” said Staff Sgt. James Strange, 505th Signal Brigade non-commissioned officer. “We utilize this time to maintain our service weapons and stay focused on our weapons training to stay sharp. This should always be a service member’s priority.”
Every Soldier using the range, regardless of experience, must first go through the range safety orientation and complete all required paperwork with no exceptions. Eye and ear protection must be put on before entering the range and must remain on during the entire use of the range. In every military exercise or movement, safety is the priority.
Once the Soldiers make it to the range, Capt. Carnegie had them sit in the grandstands, where he gave them a safety brief. All shooters must always remain behind the firing line until they are given direction from the range OIC or NCO in-charge. All firearms must always be pointed downrange in a safe manner. The shooter always keeps their finger off the trigger until they point at the target and are ready to shoot.
In July of 2019, the Army released the TC 3-20.40 Training and Qualification-Individual Weapons manual that covered not just rifle and carbine marksmanship but also has new standards for pistol and other individual weapons.
The 505th Signal Brigade deploys to conduct mission command and provide network planning and engineering support for assigned units to install, operate, maintain, secure and defend the Department of Defense Information Network, which are communications in support of the Theater Army and United Land Operations.