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Weapons Familiarization
by Army National Guard Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes - March 22, 2014

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JERICHO, Vt. - Wind-blown snowdrifts set the scene for another cold day at range 7-1. Two Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) soldiers took part in their first range experience March 15, 2014, at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vt. The firing points, etched out of the snow, provided some protection from the wind as it whipped at the soldiers moving around the range.

This was a unique opportunity for the RSP soldiers to fire and familiarize with the weapons and to experience how a military range operates. The soldiers were given an in-depth safety briefing regarding proper weapon handling and safety so they would feel prepared and confident. Ensuring soldier safety and proper weapons handling, are top priorities of the Vermont Army National Guard.

March 15, 2014 - Pvt. Christian Jarvis, an infantry soldier, with Alpha Company, 3-172nd Infantry Regiment, fires his M4 rifle during a range familiarization training. Jarvis shot 36 out of 40 targets, and will use this training to his benefit when he qualifies during basic training in July 2014 at Fort Benning, Ga. (Army National Guard Photo By Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes)
March 15, 2014 - Pvt. Christian Jarvis, an infantry soldier, with Alpha Company, 3-172nd Infantry Regiment, fires his M4 rifle during a range familiarization training. Jarvis shot 36 out of 40 targets, and will use this training to his benefit when he qualifies during basic training in July 2014 at Fort Benning, Ga. (Army National Guard Photo By Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Courville, a Vermont Army National Guard recruiter, reflected on the experience level of his soldiers, considered each person's individual needs, and the benefits the training would bring.

“One of the RSP soldiers here has already been through basic and has already fired all of these, but the other one has not. I think it'll give him a good step forward before he ships off for basic,” said Andrew Courville.

One of those soldiers, who conveyed confidence in her training, is Pvt. Sierra Courville, an intelligence analyst, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 186th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain).

Sierra Courville attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood last summer. Thus, firing a weapon is not new to her, but firing at a cold Vermont military range is. For her, this provided familiarization, not only with the M4, but also within a different learning environment.

“This was a lot more relaxed and a lot colder,” said Sierra Courville.

Sierra Courville will attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in July, before joining her unit in the fall. Sierra Courville has been in the RSP program throughout the last year and will continue to drill with RSP until graduation from AIT. RSP attendance is required partly so soldiers maintain their military bonds and accountability is kept.

“It taught me a lot of things I needed to know before I went to basic, so that I could spend more time focusing on other things,” said Sierra Courville.

Firing the M4 is also not something new for Pvt. Christian Jarvis, a newly-enlisted soldier in the Vermont Army National Guard.

“It's like an everyday kind of thing,” said Jarvis.

He said this is because he frequently fires the M4 with his father and at the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Program at Randolph Technical Career Center.

However, the atmosphere at a military qualification range provided a different experience.

Jarvis described the experience as "more controlled." He said the "put in the ammo and shoot" experience with his father plays out differently than the "tell you what to do next" military firing range mentality.

This is just the beginning of his military career. Jarvis will be attending basic training at Fort Benning this summer. Jarvis said having practice on the range would help him be more prepared when he has to qualify during basic training.

Despite the cold weather and a different shooting experience, Jarvis shot 36 out of 40 targets.

Andrew Courville said this was a special opportunity because it's not very often they get to come to the range.

“I brought them to the EST simulator down in Northfield a couple of times but never up to the range like this,” said Andrew Courville.

Andrew Courville said he hopes training like this would generate more youthful enlistments. Even though both soldiers had prior experience firing the M4, time at the range helped prepare them for future Vermont National Guard Training.

By Army National Guard Sgt. Ashley J. Hayes
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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