CAB Soldiers prepare for squad-designated marksmanship competition
Sgt. Brandon Anderson,
CAB, 1st AD Public Affairs:
In the pre-dawn cool of the El Paso desert, Soldiers with the 127th Aviation Support Battalion are drawing their weapons for a morning of shooting at the Fort Bliss Rod and Gun Club. Unlike most weapons qualification ranges, these Soldiers are competing for the honor and prestige of representing the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade at the squad-designated marksmanship competition at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Range Complex.
The team formed after receiving a flier announcing the competition three weeks before it was scheduled to take place. Fifteen Soldiers originally volunteered to compete for a spot on the team, a number whittled down to five after an initial weapons qualification range.
Spc. Tyler Russell, a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic with the 127th ASB, attributes more than just his individual effort to him being selected to be on the team.
“The mentoring of my NCO helped me make the leap from an average marksman to shooting well enough to qualify for the team,” Russell said. “It takes a lot of time and dedication.”
The team practices twice a week and spends up to five hours at a time sending their well-aimed shots at targets up to 600 meters down range. On average the team will shoot anywhere from 500 to 1,000 rounds of ammunition during their practices. This takes considerable amount of time away from their daily tasks, so having a supportive chain of command is a real asset.
“Our command team is 100 percent behind our efforts, because they understand that this type of training lends itself to the total Soldier concept,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Carter, 127th ASB master gunner and team coach. “This training is a force multiplier for the Soldier and the individual units that they represent.”
Unlike most of their competition, these Soldiers’ day-to-day activities revolve around performing the necessary maintenance and inspections vital to keeping the CAB’s fleet of helicopters ready to accomplish its mission. Not being combat-arms Soldiers hasn’t hindered them from striving to be the most well-rounded Soldiers they can be.
“A lot of time the belief is that people in the logistics and support role aren’t as skilled at soldiering as your combat-arms Soldiers, but in reality a Soldier is a Soldier,” said Lt. Col. Danford A. Kern, battalion commander. “The great thing about this team is that they’re Soldiers from a maintenance company, and you normally wouldn’t expect them to love going out shooting their assigned weapons, but they do and are good at it.”
After spending most of the day at the range, the team returns its weapons to the battalion arms room. They head back to their sections, pick up their tool boxes and get back to work on helicopters, where hand-eye coordination is all-the-more important.
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