JULY 19, 2016, COLUMBIA, S.C. – Soldiers in basic combat training with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina braved the stifling summer heat while working on the fundamentals of marksmanship at the zero range on Thursday, July 14.
“Regardless of what a Soldier’s military occupational specialty or branch is, when you get right down to it, they’re all infantrymen in a sense,” said Capt. Jason Vaughn, Company B commander.
Typically, Soldiers in initial entry training spend a total of 10 full days out of a 10-week training cycle just acquiring, honing and polishing their marksmanship skills.
“We start Soldiers out with the drills like the dime and washer drills and the (Engagement Skills Trainer) to help them get the fundamentals down,” Vaughn said.
“It’s important to get the basics down first — things like breathing, sight picture, target acquisition — before they get up to the firing line. If they hone those skills before they get up there, then muscle memory takes over and the fundamentals become second nature.”
Drill sergeants like Staff Sergeant Adam Gamache agree, the importance of mastering the fundamentals cannot be underrated.
“All of the drills that these Soldiers are working on out here today mirror a fundamental that they need when they get up to the firing line. With each drill, we show them what right looks like and then they get the opportunity to practice it and perfect it,” Gamache said.
“We have to teach the Soldiers from the ground up that the weapon is not just an accessory that they have to carry around. It has to be cared for and there’s certain things they have to do to become proficient at it.”
While teaching an individual Soldier rifle marksmanship may appear straightforward, Gamache, says the process takes on a whole new meaning for Soldiers in basic combat training.
“When you try to take a Soldier who has never even held a weapon like this, multiply that by 60, and try to get them to a level where they are proficient at firing that weapon it takes things to a much higher level,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, when you get to a point where it clicks in the mass majority of them, you stand back and say, ‘Yeah, I did that.”