FORT SILL, Okla.-- Basic combat training Soldiers in C Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery laid down their M16s and picked up some weapons with a little more punch.

It was U.S. weapons training day Nov. 9 at Capt. Riley L. Pitts U.S. Weapons Complex.

In their seventh week of training, the excitement was all over the Soldiers' faces as they stepped up to the firing line and took hold of an M249 squad automatic weapon, M240 machine gun, M203 grenade launcher and an AT4 anti-tank weapon. Of course, drill sergeants were right alongside them to make sure no mistakes were made.

Loud blasts were accompanied by plumes of smoke that danced around silhouettes on the range.

"I didn't hit the target, but I saw the dirt moving so I could see where it impacted," said Pvt. Casey Yeoman.

She said the kick from the grenade launcher wasn't as harsh as she expected, and she was pleasantly surprised.

"I liked it a lot. Being able to come out and shoot the weapons has been the best part of basic training so far."

Not too far down the range Pvt. Chase Moore fired the M249 SAW.

"I've shot weapons before, but not like this."

Moore said the beginning of BCT was extremely hard because the drill sergeants were constantly "smoking" them. Now that the trainees are three weeks away from graduating there seemed to be more smoke on the range along with loud booms and explosions, a good start for a Soldier who's going into field artillery.

"I feel like this training will make me a better Soldier," said Moore.

1st Sgt. Roderick Briscoe agrees with that sentiment and said training on these weapon systems is essential for all the Army's Soldiers.

"The way we fight now it's more urban assault. We need hit-and-move weapons. So it's vital for all Soldiers of all MOS's to receive this training," said Briscoe.

Prior to stepping out on the range, the drill sergeants introduced the trainees to the pertinent points of each weapon system teaching them safety first and how to operate it second.

"They had the weapons here so we could handle them learn how the weapon system works. They don't want us to be lost while we're out here," said Pvt. Aaron Rangel.

Although the crash course was the day before, Pfc. Dorothy Betts was still busy refreshing her memory with her Soldier handbook.

"I was trying to familiarize myself with this weapon before I fire it, just because I'm nervous," said Betts.

Drill Sgt. (Sgt. 1st Class) Elocious Frazier said Soldiers are trained on the different weapons right away because once they get to their first unit it's what they're issued. He added the AT4s aren't assigned until they are going to a combat zone but that it doesn't hurt to be exposed to them now.

"They'll never become perfectionists right here. It's more of a familiarization and then they'll take it to their unit to harness their skills as far as each weapon system," said Briscoe.

While it is serious training, the Soldiers really seemed to enjoy it with a look of focus and intensity that comes with a taste of Soldier life.

"They really love it. In fact, most of the time they're asking for more ammo. They wish they could do two or three days of this type of training. This along with the basic rifle marksmanship as well as the advanced rifle marksmanship, the Soldiers really enjoy this," said Briscoe.

Page last updated Thu November 18th, 2010 at 15:00