Members Attend Marksmanship Program
Mother and Son Pair Attend Marksmanship Program in Texarkana
C/SrA Kyle Bellisario and SM Karis Bellisario represented the 83rd Composite Squadron at the Firearms Marksmanship Training organized by the 95th Composite Squadron in Texarkana. Cadets from the 40th Composite Squadron in Hot Springs, and the 42nd Composite Squadron in Little Rock also attended. Both Bellisarios were shooting rifles for the first time.
Members received their cabin assignments and classroom training Friday night. Instructors used visuals such as large posters, slide presentations and hands-on rifle presentations to help participants grasp all the information. For the two participants from the 83rd, this was new information.
Intensive Classroom Training
The training covered parts of a rifle, discussion of ammunition, safe rifle handling rules and practice drills in passing firearms and checking for brass. Instruction was led by NRA certified rifle and pistol instructor, 2dLt Jonathan McIntyre. Capt Keith Doughty from LA-005 assisted as needed.
Attendees recited the three “ALWAYS rules” emphasized by the NRA:
- ALWAYS Keep
- The gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- The gun unloaded until ready to use.
Finally, attendees determined their eye dominance, which would prove to be vital to success the next day. The instructor taught members five shooting fundamentals in the classroom. Th next day, members would put those fundamentals to the test on the range.
A Day on the Range
The range day started with cadets setting up six targets, filling sandbags, cleaning the range area, and then a range safety briefing. Doughty discussed boundaries, safety line, firing line, as well as ear and eye protection during the briefing. Doughty explained how scoring would be handled and the number of rounds each of the 12 shooters, shooting in two groups of six, would receive for the day. Senior Member Bellisario, nicknamed Mom B for the weekend, missed the entire paper with all six opening rounds. 2dLt McIntyre was baffled, but was also determined that she experience success, and discovered that she is a right handed shooter who is left eye dominant, so he suggested she switch and shoot left handed.
A great Improvement
SM Bellisario went on to score very well on the sheet with six small targets, where the bull’s eye was the diameter of a pencil eraser. Members were given thirteen rounds each: three for practice, then two per target. A CAP senior member “coach” was assigned to each of the six stations. Then, a second string, of 10 rounds was distributed to each shooter’s coach. Coaches helped ensure the shooters were remembering the fundamentals of shooting: aiming with sight alignment and sight picture, hold control, trigger control, breath control and follow-through. She would go on to shoot quite successfully, earning Most Improved and Marksmanship awards.
C/SrA Bellisario, of 83rd Composite Squadron, would earn Pro-Marksman at the end of his weekend. Members shot with 22 caliber rifles, but each rifle was a different make and design. Some were bolt action, others held magazines of various sizes. Each coach was provided enough ammunition for one string at a time.
The end of a long day
At the end of each day, cadets cleaned up the spent casings to leave the range better than it was found. A pizza dinner and 90 minutes of aerospace education concluded Saturday’s activities. Starting at dusk, Lt. Col. Martin Kempa had multiple telescopes set up in a large open clearing. Finally, the waxing crescent moon allowed for excellent observations of lunar craters. Members watched the rising of Jupiter and Venus in the early night sky, then, as the evening continued, three moons of Jupiter were visible with the telescopes, and the big dipper. Cadets enjoyed using a variety of telescopes including binocular scopes and large refraction telescopes.
Starting the Final Day
Sunday began with a third string of 10 rounds per shooter as some tried to better their previous scores or jump in rating levels. Then the top two shooters, Cadets Sowerbutts and Silva from Hot Springs, AR-040, finished Saturday separated by only one point. After the third string, 2dLt McIntyre decided to allow these two leaders to have an additional 20 round shoot-off. As members returned to the meeting room, the awards presentation revealed they were still separated by a single point with Silva capturing Top Shooter, and the only one to reach a Sharpshooter rating.
Let’s Do it Again
The 95th Composite is discussing hosting another Firearms Marksmanship event in November 2018 with beginner track, and adding an advanced track for returning shooters. Watch for future announcements for your chance to attend the next training session and meet cadets from around the wing.