FORT BENNING, Ga. - "I could've chosen a job in electronics but you don't get to blow stuff up and shoot things, not on purpose anyway," said PVT Kyle Hiura, who is in one station unit training with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade.

Hiura was one of hundreds of Soldiers tackling basic rifle marksmanship pre-qualification Friday at Malone 14 on Sand Hill during their seventh week of the 14-week Infantry course.

"Basic rifle marksmanship is a huge milestone for them," said CPT Grant Saxena, company commander. "Mentally, it's a confidence-booster and it's also the first (benchmark) in understanding what it takes to become an Infantryman. By the end of this week, these guys will be halfway through Infantry training that, in the beginning, they might not have been sure they could get through. BRM is one of the first things where the Soldiers can say 'wow, this is enjoyable' after the shock and awe phase - it's not all just punishment, being yelled at and getting smoked."

The pre-qualification is the final step before the Soldiers qualify at the range on their primary weapon - the M-4. To qualify, a Soldier must hit at least 23 out of 40 targets and shoot from three different positions: prone unsupported, prone supported and kneeling. The Soldiers are given only 40 rounds, one for each target.
Hiura scored a 40 out of 40 during his pre-qualification round and earned the distinction of being the first Soldier in at least two years to get a perfect score at Malone 14, range control cadre said.

Hiura, a Guam National Guardsman, said he hasn't had much experience firing weapons but has become a "pretty good shot" when it comes to the M-4.

"My brother, who used to be Infantry, shot a 39 once and I told him I was going to beat him," Hiura said.
1SG Robert Winters said many Soldiers come to OSUT never having fired a weapon and most earn a sharpshooter or expert marksmanship badge.

"I think it's better if they haven't fired a weapon before; they haven't learned bad habits," Winters said.
"Every drill sergeant in the company has been deployed at least once and we work to instill a combat mentality in the Soldiers from day one," he said.

Saxena said many of the future Infantrymen may deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and as many as 20 percent may meet a unit already deployed once they graduate.

The Soldiers graduate March 5.