JERICHO, Vt. - Select Maine Army National Guard soldiers
from the 251st Combat Engineer Company (SAPPER) are
enhancing their combat readiness and gaining useful skills
in Vermont during July 2013.
Taking part in the Designated
Marksmanship School at Camp Ethan Allen, the soldiers took
turns measuring distances, calculating elevation and wind
factors as they learned valuable lessons in marksmanship.
July 25, 2013 --
Select soldiers from the Maine and Vermont Army National Guards work together during squad designated marksmanship school at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Vt. The soldiers spent two weeks going over measuring distances, calculating elevation and wind factors, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. (Maine Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Angela Parady,
121st Public Affairs Detachment.)
The name Sapper traces back to the seventh century
B.C. with the Assyrian army, and is synonymous with the
engineers who help soldiers advance and use their knowledge
to offset enemy advances.
The Sappers are soldiers
who perform a wide range of military engineering, from
bridge-building, to laying and clearing minefields,
demolitions, field defense and general construction. They
are also trained to serve as infantry during combat
operations, and conduct joint trainings regularly.
Ultimately, a Sapper is both an engineer, and an
The two week course trains soldiers to
shoot accurately at targets between 300 and 600 meters.
The soldier must be able to fire, maneuver and provide
support for all members of their squad while engaging
targets with the standard weapon system. They must also be
proficient in detecting and determining enemy targets,
weak-side shooting and calculating both ballistics and
Instructors start in the
classroom, and move the soldiers out in the field for
extensive practice before beginning the qualification
“We start by giving them the basic knowledge
in the classroom,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Palmer, a
senior instructor with the 2nd Modular Training Battalion.
“We coach them on position, teaching them the tricks of the
trade, such as wind factors and estimating range. We get
them to zero and group. Then we start taking them out to
distances well outside their comfort zone.”
Colchester, Vt., native, said the role of the squad
designated marksman was designed to help improve firing
squad capability. In the current operations, such as
Afghanistan, many targets are at distances much further than
the average soldier is taught to shoot, which is between the
100 and 300 meter range.
“That's where everyone
qualifies,” he said. “This takes them out to 600 meters and
beyond, to fill that gap between what a regular soldier,
rifleman is capable of and what a sniper is capable of. It
is an additional tool on the battlefield.”
Zachary Surette, a combat engineer with the 251st SAPPER
Company was selected to attend the course because of his
proficiency with weapons qualifications during the years. He
found the training very beneficial.
“Any school that
teaches you how to shoot better is worth having, especially
in our line of work,” said the Harrison, Maine, native.
“This course really forces you to focus on the fundamentals.
If you don't have those completely down, you won't be
Company commanders selected the soldiers
for the course based on their past performances, and their
maturity, as well as being eligible for that position within
their squad. These soldiers will be expected to come back
and pass on what they have learned to the others.
squad designated marksman is a regular rifleman within a
squad,” said Surette. “But when called upon to engage
targets past 300 meters, that's where they make their money.
So really, anywhere from 300 to 600 meters we are expected
to be able to successfully identify, range and engage those
targets. That's the main mission, aside from being a
rifleman in the squad.”
Palmer enjoys working with
the younger soldiers which keeps his own skill set sharp and
He says the training these soldiers are
receiving is valuable both to the individual, and the units.
Those who successfully complete the course will be subject
matter experts and can go back to their units and share what
they have learned to help make everyone a little bit better.
“What we give them, is a better skill set,” said
Palmer. “They have a much deeper knowledge than your basic
training in marksmanship. In today's operating environment,
it's more tools for more precise engagements. With more
precision shooting, we can improve accuracy decreasing
fratricide and civilian casualties.”
By Army National Guard Sgt. Angela Parady
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