3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., - Soldiers from 3rd BCT "Rakkasans," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), took part in safety classes and range training during the privately owned weapons mentorship day here , Nov. 27 .

"The idea for this was to put together some form of mentorship in terms of privately owned weapons due to the numbers in trends that the Army is seeing with Soldiers injuring themselves with weapons they purchased," said Skip Stuck, the Brigade safety manager for 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "As a brigade we have not had an issue, but as a post we had one incident where a Soldier accidentally shot himself which resulted in a fatality, and that is one too many."

The privately owned weapons mentorship day was the first of its kind for the Rakkasans, as well as the first for Fort Campbell, Stuck said.

Throughout the mentorship day, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Hammond, the armament maintenance technician assigned to the Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., gave Soldiers classes on proper weapon handling, correct firing stances and appropriate actions for cleaning and storing their privately owned weapons.

Staff Sgt. Eric Esposito, the Brigade chaplain's assistant for 3rd BCT, said that he benefitted from the experience and mentorship of the instructor.

"The subject matter expert in the class portion was very qualified to teach about weapons safety and handling with hand guns, shot guns and rifles," Esposito said. "I have prior knowledge on handling weapons, but I'm not an expert marksman by any means, so to go over some of those topics was very informative."

The classes offered Soldiers valuable information and proficiencies' on all aspects of owning a fire arm, information that can be utilized and passed on to others to increase weapon safety.

"Because we train with military weapons, young Soldiers don't know the basic characteristics of the weapons they are purchasing, so our idea was to bring in someone with the expertise on those types of weapons who can properly teach and help develop skills with proper weapons handling," Stuck said.

After the Soldiers took time to learn multiple skills and safety measures, they were provided time to shoot their weapons safely on a range that was ran by 3rd Brigade personnel.

The Brigade safety manager, along with the assistant Brigade engineer and a handful of noncommissioned officers supervised the students of the class and ensured the safe handling of their personally owned weapons.

"Not everyone has an M-16 or M-4, so being able to bring out your own personal weapon gave everyone the opportunity to not only properly handle your own weapon, but to also learn what it takes to be safe with your own weapon," Esposito said.

With the completion of the privately owned weapons mentorship day, Stuck and other leaders within the Rakkasans hope to continue this new phase of fire arm safety, and increase Soldier's' awareness of proper weapons handling.

"If today is dubbed a success we are going to try and hold more mentorship days like this so we can have more Soldiers participate," said Stuck. "We just want to be able to bring in more Soldiers so that we can teach them to be as safe as possible, as well as show them that they can have a good time ."