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News > A whole new 'Course of Fire' for arms training
A whole new 'Course of Fire' for arms training

Posted 1/27/2012   Updated 12/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/27/2012 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- For Airmen preparing to deploy, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance is an important stop on their checklist. One of CATM's major modules, the Course of Fire, recently underwent a number of dramatic changes.

The previous Course of Fire consisted of about three hours of instruction, followed by an hour or so of shooting in the basic positions, such as prone supported or kneeling unsupported. The shooter would perform the necessary actions, using about 100 rounds to qualify.

"Before, students would just post up behind the barricade, zero out their weapons and qualify," said Staff Sgt. Kory Soderquist, 355th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor.

With the new course, individuals must complete a series of scenarios, called "immediate actions," before they can begin to shoot on the range.

"They need to prove to us that they paid attention during the instruction portion and they know what moves to execute once they pick-up the weapon," Soderquist said. "We test students individually so we know that each person is confident with the procedures. If you don't pass the immediate action phase, you don't shoot."

Once on the range, students have to accomplish two sets of tasks, each set broken down into phases.

Instructional time has been extended to four hours and students are on the shooting range for five. To perform all tasks required to qualify, almost double the rounds are used in the new program.

The first set of tasks involves the basic shooting stances, with and without gas mask inserts. This portion is much like the old class.

"The students have to qualify in each phase to be cleared for deployment," Soderquist said. "We have what we call Remedial Fire for those who don't complete a phase. You'll complete the course and then come back and test only on the phases you did not qualify in."

The second set of tasks are referred to as short range combat training. The phases of this set involve movements with the weapon.

"During SRCT one of the things students practice is target identification, where they shoot targets on the left, targets on the right and multiple shots," Soderquist said. "When they practice multiple shots, they have an assailant on both sides. They step to the right, give that target two shots; step to the left, give that target two shots. Then they move back to the right and shoot one round, then the left for the final shot to that target."

Participants also get to shoot the weapons on burst during SRCT.

The changes to the Course of Fire program were sanctioned by Air Combat Command, and were implemented on D-M around November 2011.

"One of the things I've noticed with the changes is more competence in the weapon," Soderquist said. "They spend a lot of time shooting it and that allows them to get the procedures down in their minds."

The new curriculum is currently only being used for the M-4, the assault rifle that is replacing the M-16 as the standard issued weapon for deployments in the Air Force.

"I can see people taking this new course more serious," Soderquist said. "The SRCT really stands out. They're picturing themselves in a combat situation and that makes them pay close attention to the instruction and it shows. It shows in their confidence and focus, and the way they begin to trust the weapon."

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