Lock ‘N Load: Warrior Airmen hit their mark

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Zeski
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Ready Right. Ready Left. Shooters! Aim! Fire!

Members of the 92nd Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training and Maintenance team are responsible for training Fairchild Airmen on their weapons before deployments and ensuring every weapon on base is in proper working order.

There are a total of seven instructors who work in CATM. Together, they make it possible to train more than 2,500 Airmen each year on 11 different weapons.

"Our goal is to help Airmen become more comfortable and knowledgeable with their weapon," said Staff Sgt. Alan McNew, 92nd SFS assistant NCO in charge of combat arms.

The instructors at CATM are required to inspect every firearm, an average of 3,500, on base every year. Having more than 400,000 rounds fired per year at the range, parts are prone to break down and require replacement. They inspect for functionality, fix any issues and make sure the weapons are deployment-ready.

"Our mission is the proper training and maintenance of weapons," said McNew.

Before students deal with live rounds, the CATM instructors thoroughly explain weapon safety. Learning how to properly handle a loaded weapon and clearing out a rifle are important, but the most significant rule is always assuming the weapon is loaded, added Senior Airman Herbert Ramos, 92nd SFS combat arms instructor.

Each student must be able to effectively break down and clean their weapon, as well as identify each individual part.

"Knowing every part of the weapon is important because if something breaks, they'll know exactly what it is and be able to communicate the issue to someone else ... instead of calling it the black pointy thing," said McNew.

The next steps taught are the fundamentals of firing. Everything from holding breaths to trigger squeeze and lining up the shot to making scope adjustments are explained in detail.

"The best way to be a good shooter is to have a routine." said McNew.

Depending on the mission, the type of training varies. The course, holding a maximum of 22 students, changed about a year ago focusing on preparing Airmen to be more combat oriented in the field. This consists of three phases.

"We teach the fundamentals of shooting back as if a real person is returning fire," said Ramos.

The first phase is for practicing shots, then qualification of the weapon. The second focuses on quick reactions and shooting in rapid succession. During the final phase, Airmen get familiar with the burst fire mode and tactical shooting maneuvers.

"The Air Force is always trying to improve training and this new course has been designed to make Airmen more comfortable firing their weapon," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Bell, 92nd SFS combat arms instructor. "Airmen need to practice more than just shooting at targets."

It's the instructor's responsibility at CATM to ensure Airmen are meeting qualifications and familiar with their weapon. The classes are taught at a basic skill level. Everyone can relate to and each topic is thoroughly explained.

"This class built my confidence in handling the weapon," said Capt. Lauren Robillard, 36th Rescue Flight pilot, a student who recently completed the course.

Ramos added instructors will stay after class if anyone needs help and provide one-on-one assistance until the Airman is fully confident.

"During the past six years I've been here, there hasn't been a single person in a class we haven't been able to pass," said McNew.