FORT HOOD, Texas - For the first time in the 1st Cavalry Division's history, a brigade support battalion is conducting gunnery.

Soldiers of the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. have completed Tables II, V and VI of the brigade's gunnery exercise at Henson Mountain Multi-use Range.

The unit began training Aug. 16 and will continue until Aug. 25. Each table requires increasingly advanced skills in vehicle crew communication, target acquisition and target engagement.

Historically, brigade support battalions have not conducted weapons-based training on this scale. Since the integration of the new heavy brigade combat team concept, battalions like the Blacksmiths will get to know their weapons the same way a combat arms battalion would.

"As a whole, the BSB hasn't done a standardized gunnery before. This gets them to recognize targets on the move and gets them more time firing their weapons," Roberts said.

Soldiers said they were glad for the change of pace and the relativity of the training.

"We are responsible for our own convoy security, so doing a range like this is more realistic to what we will encounter (while deployed)," said 1st Lt. Brandon Baralt, the range officer in charge.

As vehicles moved down the range, crews faced a variety of scenarios including engaging a target at 200 meters while wearing a gas mask and how to continue the mission if the vehicle's gunner is injured.

Leaders evaluated the crews on their speed, communication, reaction to scenario changes and effectiveness in identifying and engaging targets.

Crew members rotated positions within their vehicles to gain as much experience as possible from the training. Though the teams are scheduled to stay together through the brigade's next deployment, this technique will allow them to integrate quickly into a new crew if need be.

"This is a broader picture of what the line battalions are doing when they train up," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Roberts, a member of the battalion's recon security detachment.

Soldiers in the unit said the training prepares them for scenarios they may encounter while deployed.

"You learn something new every day," said Spc. Joshua Dorsey, a fire control system repair specialist from Dumas, Arkansas. "This is my first time being a truck commander so there's a lot to learn."