By by 1st Lt. Jeremy Shier, C Company Platoon LeaderJanuary 13, 2014
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska -- Soldiers from C Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted a day and night small-arms live-fire range Jan. 8-9 at the Manchu Range facility in the Yukon Training Area outside of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
The day and night fire iterations gave the Soldiers an opportunity to experience the difference between engaging targets in normal light and limited visibility, while increasing their confidence in their night-vision equipment.
Noncommissioned officers from C Co., 1-24 IN taught Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction to the Soldiers the day prior to the range in order to enhance their effectiveness when using small arms. The Soldiers were taught the characteristics of the M4 rifle, M249 automatic rifle and M240 machine gun, as well as fundamental firing techniques, assembly and disassembly, malfunction procedures and methods for fine-tuning each weapon's optic and aiming devices.
"The PMI is an essential element to any live-fire exercise," said Sgt. 1st Class Adam Tutor, platoon sergeant, C Co., 1-24 IN and Fredericksburg, Va., native. "I think that going over the fundamental tasks of marksmanship reinforces the Soldier's proficiency in a crucial skill set and pays dividends when the Soldiers fire on the range."
While at Manchu Range, the Soldiers tested their weapon and optic device's accuracy before shooting targets up to 300 meters away. The Soldiers were able to hone their ability to effectively hit targets from the prone and kneeling firing positions. The Soldiers also officially qualified with their weapon while firing during daylight hours.
"You can really see the difference in the Soldier's ability to hit targets as they continue to practice," said Sergeant Whittington, team leader, C Co., 1-24 IN, from Wilkesboro, N.C. "I think the PMI lays a good foundation but actually getting the Soldiers out here to fire is where the real learning takes place."
Each day the range ended with several limited visibility, or night fire, exercises. Once the sun had set the Soldiers used their night vision goggles in conjunction with their AN PEQ-15 Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Lights to engage targets up to 200 meters away. The use of the aiming lights allowed Soldiers to observe how errors in fundamentals, such as steady breathing and trigger squeeze, affected where their bullets impacted.
"This is pretty interesting stuff," said Pfc. Noah Mayes, squad automatic weapon gunner, C Co., 1-24 IN and native of Waterbury, Conn. "Having my team leader coach me the entire time on my firing techniques really helped to improve my overall accuracy with SAW by the end of the night."