203rd RED HORSE Airmen tackle new Air Force Qualification Course at Camp Pendleton

Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s 203rd RED HORSE Squadron qualify on their M-4 rifles at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach May 6, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s 203rd RED HORSE Squadron hit the beach at the Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach May 6 for individual weapons qualification on their M-4 rifles. It was the first time the Airmen from the 203rd RHS fired using the Air Force’s new Air Force Rifle Qualification Course.

The new course features more firing, more positions and more classroom instruction before hitting the actual range.  

“We went from 100 rounds to 276 rounds,” explained Master Sgt. Dan Summerell of the 203rd RHS, who served as noncommissioned officer in charge of the range. “There are a total of six phases and 17 different procedures.”

There are many differences between the old course and the new one but the primary one is the emphasis on combat engagement and developing shooter survivability skills. The Airmen fired from the prone supported, prone unsupported and kneeling supported positions. They also had to fire over a barricade, wearing a protective mask, and moving to the left and to the right.

The Airmen are among the first in the Air National Guard to qualify using a new Air Force qualification table. The new table requires Airmen to fire 276 rounds from the prone supported and unsupported positions, kneeling supported position, over a barricade, with a gas mask and moving left and right. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

After zeroing their weapons, the Airmen had the opportunity to test fire from the various positions. Then it was time to don combat helmets and body armor and fire for qualification. They had 40 seconds to fire 24 rounds. They had to hit 17 out of 24 to qualify and 22 out of 24 for expert status.

Tech. Sgt. Ken Hall was one of four Airmen from the 192nd Security Forces Squadron there to serve as safeties and instructors and assist with the operation of the range.

“The new course gets Airmen more rifle time, which is something we need,” he said. “Transitioning from left to right and taking head shots and body shots are some of the new stuff we are doing.”

In addition to improving Airmen’s ability to fire accurately, the new course also focuses on target acquisition, threat discrimination, multiple-threat engagement, and surviving weapon malfunction and stoppages. As part of the course, the Airmen spent May 5 in the classroom gaining more understanding of the weapon, how it functions and basic fundamentals such as sight picture, breathing control and trigger squeeze.

“It’s six to seven hours of classroom time,” explained Summerell. “We start at the bottom and teach them the very basics.”

The 203rd RHS normally fires at the 192nd Fighter Wing’s range at Langley Air Force Base. But because that range is currently closed, the Airmen were able to take advantage of the facilities at SMR and spend the day qualifying less than a mile from their unit headquarters on the base.

To view photos from this event, visit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157629988616705/