Fort Bliss Soldiers, Airmen earn Schutzenschnur
Sgt. Brian C. Erickson,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Soldiers and Airmen from around Fort Bliss and New Mexico took the challenge to earn the German Armed Forces Badge of Weapon Proficiency here April 18 and 19.
The badge, known in German as the Schutzenschnur, is awarded in bronze, silver and gold. The testing for the badge involved three stages. The first stage was rifle qualification, and the two other stages involved using a pistol.
The first day comprised the rifle qualification. The qualification is different than the Army’s due to the German rifle, which only has a 16-round magazine. There are four stages, four rounds each, to the rifle qualification.
The different stages are set up to give the shooters different views of the targets, unlike the Army’s qualification during which Soldiers acquire the same sight picture for only three angles.
To keep things different, the shooter starts from behind a barricade. On top of that the shooter has to move forward three times during the stage: shooting from the prone, kneeling and in an unsupported standing position.
“Shooting from behind the wall was new to me,” said Sgt. Daniel Clem, assigned to the 1st Armored Division Band.
Day two is when the participants put their pistol skills to the test. Using the German pistol HKP8, shooters were required to shoot at stationary and pop-up targets.
The first pistol stage is where participants fire at stationary targets from 25 meters away. To qualify, each target had to be hit at least once.
Next was the stage that seemed to take many participants by surprise because it was more difficult than most expected, said Maj. Robert Wagner, Task Force Redball commander.
After firing at the stationary targets, participants headed back to the ammo point to each receive a six-round magazine to attempt the final stage, which had three different shooting positions.
During each position each person had to fire two shots at two targets. The kicker there was that participants only had six seconds to shoot at both targets. To qualify, four out of the six targets must be hit, but at least one target from each position must be hit.
“I am proud to be able to participate in an event like this,” said Clem. “I try to take every opportunity to do as much as I can.”
To wrap up the event, the Soldiers and Airmen who qualified for the German marksmanship badge were awarded during an April 20 ceremony at the Fort Bliss German Community Center.
“The opportunity to work with a different nation and build positive rapport with them is always a good thing,” said Wagner. “Thanks to the Germans’ support, this has been a great experience.”
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