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Combat Arms - Increasing Lethality, Reducing Mishaps
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens
June 30, 2019

Well trained Airmen reduce the rise of safety mishaps in the field and increases accuracy and lethality when firing a weapon is necessary.

To ensure Gunfighters are ready to deploy at any moment, Mountain Home Air Force Base conducts Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) classes throughout the year.

April 25, 2019 - An Airman loads ammunition into his clip before receiving instructions at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Airmen receive Combat Arms Training to ensure they are confident using their issued weapons. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)
April 25, 2019 - An Airman loads ammunition into his clip before receiving instructions at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Airmen receive Combat Arms Training to ensure they are confident using their issued weapons. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)

Most Airmen are trained on two main weapons at CATM: the M4 carbine and M9 pistol.

“Whether it’s because they’re deploying or making a permanent change of station, they come to CATM for their small arms training,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Martin, 366th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms instructor.

April 25, 2019 - Staff Sgt. Corey Martin, 366th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor gives instructions on the firing line at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Combat arms instructors guide Airmen through the process of safely loading and firing weapons. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)
April 25, 2019 - Staff Sgt. Corey Martin, 366th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor gives instructions on the firing line at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Combat arms instructors guide Airmen through the process of safely loading and firing weapons. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)

Gunfighter CATM instructors train Airmen on a multitude of topics that pertain to their safety in a deployed environment.

They start off in the classroom to learn basic firearm safety, how the weapon works, and how to preform immediate actions in the event their weapon is not firing correctly.

After the classroom portion of the course, Airmen are taken to the firing range to put the techniques they learned to the test.

Tech Sgt. Joshua Armstrong, 366th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller says the training reminds him of the techniques he’s learned in the past when attending other CATM classes.

“Different careers in the Air Force have different objectives so it’s always good to have a refresher on how to properly operate these weapons.” Said Armstrong.

The instructors intently watch their students as they fire weapons during qualification to ensure they maintain safety standards.

April 25, 2019 - Staff Sgt. Justin Colmer, 366th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor, observes his students as they fire their weapons at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Airmen learn how to safely operate issued weapons in the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance class. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)
April 25, 2019 - Staff Sgt. Justin Colmer, 366th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor, observes his students as they fire their weapons at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Airmen learn how to safely operate issued weapons in the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance class. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Bivens)

“It’s very important for Airmen to retain information and remain safe when firing their weapons,” Martin said. “A negligent discharge could end someone’s life.”

When firing is done the shooters return to the classroom to disassemble and clean their weapons before putting the weapon back together with guidance from instructors.

“We go over operator level maintenance so they can identify problems inside the weapon itself,” Martin said. “If a bolt breaks it shouldn’t take a Combat Arms Airman to inspect it for cracks and imperfections. If the person is qualified they should be able to grab a new bolt and put it back together.”

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