U.S. Weapons Demonstration gives Soldiers a taste of automatic weapons

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A Soldier in Basic Combat Training with E Company, Lightning Bn., fires the M249 squad assault weapon at the U.S. weapons range on Fort Jackson, S.C., Sept. 18, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Soldiers in Basic Combat Training with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina got acquainted with some of the Army’s crew serve weapons during the U.S. Weapons Demonstration, June 7.

On a typical summer’s day at Fort Jackson, Soldiers calmed their nerves and tried their hands at knocking down troop targets as well as burnt out hulks of armored personnel carriers with the M203 grenade launcher, M249 light machine gun, and M240B general purpose machine gun.

“Booooom! I love that!” exclaimed one Soldier with arms raised and fists clinched watching from the bleachers when a 40mm high explosive grenade exploded upon impact with a fire-charred deuce-and-a-half.

But before the Soldiers ever get close to the firing line, they’re given classes on every aspect of each of the three weapons; from loading to unloading, clearing malfunctions and functions checks.

“We run them through three stations were we teach them how to clean and maintain each weapon along with the proper firing procedures and clearing the weapons, said Staff Sgt. Rodney Guinyard, Range Support Cadre from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 321st Infantry Regiment, 104th Training Division (LT).

“We then move them over to the firing line and a couple of lucky Soldiers get the chance to actually fire some HE rounds out of the 203. The rest will fire the training rounds,” he said.

Cadre at the U.S. Weapons Demonstration range located at Fort Jackson, S.C., assign lanes to Soldiers in Basic Combat Training with E Company, Lightning Bn., preparing to fire the M249 squad assault weapon and M240 machine gun Sept. 18, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton

From the live fire demonstration the Soldiers are split into two groups where half of them will take turns firing training rounds from the grenade launcher and the others fire approximately 50 to 100 rounds of ammunition downrange with the machine guns.

As round after round of 5.56 mm sped down range, sometimes hitting the intended target, most of the time not, Soldier after Soldier gave a quick smile and often times asked to fire again.

“Training Soldiers is what’s important out here and it’s what I like to do, said Staff Sgt. Randy Pittman, also serving as range cadre from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 321st Infantry Regiment, 104th Training Division (LT). “That’s the main thing, training Soldiers. But also this is just plain fun!”

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