Dark Knights make firing range a safe place
July 22, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq - Soldiers from the 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, qualified on their M16 rifles at Sykes range here June 22-24.
The three-day training event was the last M16 qualification in Iraq before their redeployment to Bamberg, Germany.
The "Dark Knights" of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 16th STB, assumed range responsibilities. Capt. Russell Matusiak, range officer in charge, and Sgt. 1st Class Nancy Fisher, range noncommissioned officer in charge led Soldiers from HHC to help ensure the 16th STB Soldiers qualified on their assigned weapons.
In a three-day period, 78 Soldiers from the battalion qualified, as well as several Soldiers from attached units. Qualification consisted of the new standards of the prone supported, prone unsupported and the kneeling unsupported positions.
"The elements posed a challenge for many Soldiers" said Staff Sgt. Natasha Dumig, tower NCO. "But even with all the gear, new shooting positions, and heat, the Soldiers persevered and qualified."
The range began at 4:30 a.m., avoiding the summer Iraqi heat. Each day the temperature reached over one-hundred degrees. Range safeties ensured the Soldiers at the range had shade as well as ice water, sports drinks and snacks to prevent any heat injuries.
"There was great feedback during the after action review that were conducted daily," said Fisher. "Soldiers said that they felt more confident in their firing capabilities after having a coach with each firer during the zeroing phase of the range. Several firers mentioned that the range was well organized and proficient."
There was one safety for every three firers to ensure everyone remained in the complete uniform and practiced muzzle awareness at all times.
"Overall, the qualification range was a success since there were no injuries or heat casualties and Soldiers improved their skills with their individually assigned weapons," said Fisher. "But mostly, the Dark Knights would never quit until the mission and task was complete."