Story by: Spc Jason Archer
Members of 71st Troop Command, Texas Army National Guard qualified on three different weapons May 3, 2019 at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. Soldiers from the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 71st Theater Information Operations Group and 71st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, qualified on pistols, rifles and machineguns.
Weapons qualification is a requirement of all soldiers in the Army and Army National Guard. The 71st Troop Command uses the annual qualification to keep soldiers ready to answer the call for any mission, stateside or federal.
Sgt. Maj. Jason Morrow, operations sergeant major for the 71st Troop Command, places high importance on the readiness of all Troop Command Soldiers.
“Soldiers’ physical and mental fitness is the foundation for the readiness and lethality of our force,” Morrow said. “It is important for soldiers to be proficient in their advanced individual skills, but they also have to stay relevant by maintaining their soldiering skills.”
To prepare for the shooting range, the 71st used the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy, U.S. Army Training Circular 3-20.0. The publication is a step-by-step manual to prepare soldiers for the shooting range and ultimately make a ready and lethal force. Chapter 4 of the manual includes a six-step process leading up to the range.
Sgt. Matthew Wright, a public affairs specialist with the 100th MPAD, went through the entire process in the months leading up to the firing range. During the simulation portion of his training, his unit used a laser marksmanship training system.
“The laser pop-ups helped me raise my score significantly,” Wright said. “I was more prepared for the targets and controlled my weapon and breathing better.”
Wright qualified on the M-4 rifle and the M-249 machine gun. Going to the range is one of his favorite parts about being in the Texas Army National Guard.
“I really look forward to range day,” said Wright. “It is a break from my routine civilian job, and I get to fire expensive weapons for free. I find myself more excited to go to drill when I know I’m going to be shooting that weekend.”
Success on the range positively effects a soldier’s outlook on being a soldier. Good training is essential to achieve this success.
Soldiers from Troop Command were trained from Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction through the firing range with battle buddies in order to ensure their success.
Pfc. Gunnar Gransbury and Pfc. Clay Ayanna are paralegal assistants for the 71st TIOG’s HHC. Both were coaching each other while on the range. While they were shooting, the pair would help spot targets and check each other’s fundamentals.
“We are pretty new to the unit,” Gransbury said. “I thought it would be harder to qualify since it has been a while since I last shot, but I think I hit 34 out of 40 targets today.”
Morrow further explained the importance of following the training syllabus put out by the Regular Army.
“Any task in the National Guard has the added difficulty of time constraints,” Morrow said. “By following the doctrine and utilizing all the tools available to us, we can make sure our reserve-component soldiers are ready for weapon qualifications and fulfilling their missions.”