By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)May 26, 2016
Proficiency in rifle marksmanship is a requirement for all Soldiers before graduating Basic Combat Training.
Basic Military Police students attending One Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood are required to not only qualify with the M4 rifle, but the M9 pistol as well.
The M9 is one of the primary weapon systems for military police and mastering it is important, said Staff Sgt. Cornelius Deloatch, small arms instructor, Basic Military Police Training Division.
"It's important that they have the mechanics and the fundamentals to use the weapons system, so that they can actively use it in the correct manner and hopefully save their lives and possibly somebody else's," he said.
Soldiers are required to qualify with the M9 with a minimum score of 35 hits out of 50 shots. That's a number that seems high for Soldiers, like Spc. Brett Reed, MP student, Company C, 795th Military Police Battalion, who has never handled an M9 before joining the Army.
"I've never shot a weapon before, and this is my first time shooting a handgun," he said. "It's a little different than shooting the M4."
The instructors at BMPTD have taken into account the lack of familiarity when training these Soldiers aspiring to become MPs.
"The lack of weapons handling shouldn't be a factor, because we teach everybody from a baseline to be able to (qualify) -- whether they have already been shooting their whole life or whether this is the first time they've held a pistol," Deloatch said. "In my time of being here, I have seen very few who haven't been able to qualify."
By the time Soldiers get to the range to qualify, they have already been through a mechanics class where they are taught the basics of the M9 and weapons handling procedures, Deloatch said. Soldiers also get time in the Engagement Skills Trainer, a digital firing range, before putting the first round down range.
Even with the familiarization training, some Soldiers need a little one-on-one attention, according to Staff Sgt. Mikaela Clark, drill sergeant, Co. C, 795th MP Bn.
"We pretty much expect that coming in. A lot of them are going to need additional training," she said.
If a Soldier is unable to qualify the first time through with the M9, Clark said they are given additional training, including extra time with the EST, and are given another chance.
Clark said, during the second qualification, an instructor or drill sergeant will work with them, shot-by-shot, to correct any issues, to ensure the Soldier qualifies. If they are again unable to qualify, they can be recycled into another company to give it another shot.
"We really try our best to work with them," Clark said. "Since it is our primary weapons system for MPs, we need to ensure these Soldiers become the subject matter experts."