On the Range Again

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Preston Webb
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Today’s Air Force accomplishes a crucial, global mission — requiring those who serve to deploy worldwide. An essential part of deployment is training and preparation required to accomplish missions ahead.

President Abraham Lincoln once said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

In that spirit, Air Force Reserve 931st Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., teaches proper use of weapons Airmen use while deployed; maintaining their qualifications.

“Some CATM ranges pride themselves on being hard on their Airmen, but not us,” said Tech. Sgt. Jamie Thompson, 931 SFS acting NCOIC of CATM. “It’s our responsibility to make sure Citizen Airmen are familiar with and comfortable using their weapon when needed. Qualifying is important, but knowing your rifle is just as important.”

Often associated with enhancing current weapon skills, CATM flights offer a wide variety of weapons classes, to prepare deploying Airmen for whatever real world scenario may be ahead.

Each course’s curriculum contains information going above and beyond simple marksmanship. While accuracy is vital, pertinent safety and operational information also needs to be reviewed.

“We teach a lot about how the weapon actually works, that usually helps people understand it a little bit better,” said Thompson. “We also cover a lot of safety information and touch on use-of-force to ensure the weapon is handled properly.”

Thompson said he enjoys his time at the range, saying he feels he fills a crucial role in the preparedness of the 931 ARW.

“I feel it’s the most fulfilling job in the Air Force,” said Thompson. “It’s great to see someone who’s not confident in their skills enter the class, because it means when everything behind the scenes comes together during the course, we get to watch that person’s confidence grow while they qualify or even make expert.”

One student said he was thankful for courses that provide Citizen Airmen the chance to familiarize themselves with potentially life-saving equipment before they enter the stresses of a hostile-fire situation.

“There’s a lot of value in having familiarity with whatever weapon you’re using. Being able to handle and fire the weapon often makes it easier to remember how to use the weapon safely and correctly,” said Senior Airman Alexander Bain, 931st Civil Engineer Squadron engineer assistant, a student requalifying on the M4 Carbine. “It’s always better to have the skills and not need them, than to need them and not have them.”