WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2010) -- The Department of Military Instruction opened a rifle range to the community Aug. 4 for a sampling of marksmanship training which the Corps of Cadets engage in during summer training.

Civilians and military assigned to West Point in any capacity or their Family members were invited to fire the M-4 rifle using either an iron sight or the M68 optic sight. Coaches from DMI provided instructions on shooting from the prone position at paper or steel targets. After proving proficient in shooting prone, participants continued shooting the M-4 from a standing or crouching position.

"The prone position is the most stable platform (to shoot)," said Lt. Col. Kevin Parker, Chief of Military Science at DMI. "Your weapon shoots at the same place (you point), but your eye doesn't."

Parker said the participants were taught some minor functioning of the rifles, loading a magazine into the weapon and some mechanics just to get a feel of what they have in their hands. The M-4 magazine generally holds 30 rounds of ammunition, but participants, when first learning how to shoot, shoot only five rounds.

"This is a great way for participants to get an appreciation of what a cadet's training is like," said Col. Casey Haskins, DMI director. "This is an activity that has the highest payoff and the lowest cost where people can have fun."

This is the second year DMI hosted the event. Although the heat and humidity was stifling and the ground wasn't the most comfortable place to shoot, there were many who braved the conditions for the chance to shoot an assault rifle. Last year there were 130 shooters.

"I can see how this training has direct application to statistics," said Steven Bloom, economics instructor in the Social Science Department. "This will help me perfect my lessons. The M-4 has a little kick to it, but it has more noise than kick."

Bruce Ollstein, manager of the Thayer Hotel and former Army pilot, enjoyed getting the chance to shoot.

"It's fun getting to know how the new equipment works, especially the M68 sight," said Ollstein.

The M68 sight has a red dot inside the sight and moves based on eye position, but always represent the point of aim.

"It's called CCO or Closed Combat Optic,"said Maj. J.C. Stroh, instructor for Defense and Strategic Studies for DMI. "Cadets shoot better with these types of sights," he said.

Stroh added that the cadets have been trained on the M-4 with the M68 sight for the last two years.