Army North Soldiers enhance vital skill set through marksmanship training

By Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Torres


CAMP BULLIS, Texas - During the Revolutionary War, “Baron” Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a former Prussian officer, was brought in to teach marksmanship training to Continental Army Soldiers, and he clearly demonstrated the importance and the effectiveness of properly placing volleys of fire against enemy forces.

A little more than 223 years later, Soldiers from U.S. Army North’s Headquarters Support Company concentrated on modern principles of advanced rifle marksmanship during live-fire weapons training Jan. 27 at the Camp Bullis Military Training Reservation in San Antonio; the training, however, was not with muskets but rather with current weapons: the M-16A2 Rifle and the M-9 Berretta Pistol.

“This training is excellent in developing confidence in our junior and senior noncommissioned officers,” said Maj. Rene Rodriguez, commander, headquarters support company, Army North. “It also sets the pathway for the same NCOs receiving this training in their future assignments to lead qualification ranges and lead Soldiers.”

Learning close-quarter combat skills is as paramount in today’s Army as it was in the past as Soldiers continue to learn different and more effective ways to use their combat equipment. Although the mission requirements here in Army North do not call for carrying a weapon on a daily basis, maintaining basic Soldiering skills remain a top priority for the command.

“The procedures and techniques for implementing the program are designed to improve Soldiers’ understanding of common firing principles to allow them to become more proficient marksmen and to increase their confidence in applying their firing skills in real-world contingency operations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Barney Muller, range noncommissioned officer in charge, HSC, Army North.

Soldiers rehearsed reflexive fire from the standing, unsupported firing position and a modified firing position in which they squatted slightly forward as they fired to steady themselves. The modified position provided them a stable base to react to returning fire. Soldiers also rehearsed rapid, semiautomatic fire training, with continuous, rapid single shots.

“Every Soldier must be proficient in their warrior tasks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Somphot Hongtong, range safety, operations noncommissioned officer, Army North. “If the mission requires us to defend ourselves and our citizens, then we will be able to perform that mission.”

Many of the Soldiers said they appreciated the opportunity to practicing their basic Soldiering skills.

“I enjoyed the training,” said Staff Sgt. Kalisha Heard, an Atlanta native who serves as an intelligence analyst with Army North. “Due to my break in service and frequent PCS moves, I was overdue for advanced rifle marksmanship training. I was able to regain my confidence with the M-16A2 and familiarize myself with the M-9.”

The training for Soldiers today is much more complex when compared to the straight-line shooting of the Colonial days. However, many of the principles taught by the famous “Baron” in 1776 remain paramount today – the solid foundation of marksmanship. Soldiers must know their weapons and maintain a high level of proficiency to be able to engage the enemy with precision.

“The Global War on Terror is not set in one battlefield or environment, and reflexive drills and different firing postures are very good for Soldiers to learn and become proficient at,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Haselhorst, communications noncommissioned officer, Army North. Reflexive fire, for one, is especially essential for those who convoy a lot or conduct foot patrols to help keep themselves and their battle buddies safe in a combat zone.”