Co. C, 3rd Bn., 501st Aviation Regt., holds: An unconventional range

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Decker, assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, uses an alternative method while firing an M4 assault rifle at McGregor Range, N.M., Nov. 1. For more on this story, see page 8A. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Decker, assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, uses an alternative method while firing an M4 assault rifle at McGregor Range, N.M., Nov. 1. For more on this story, see page 8A. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 22, 2017)

McGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Soldiers assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, qualified on their M9 and M4 weapons here Nov. 1, but this range was not typical by any means.

Normally when Soldiers go to the range to zero and qualify their weapons, the range is setup with elements such as tower and range safety.

The unit ran the range at a squad type level, however. This means that each Soldier firing was a member of a small group taking command and guidance from a single leader.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Ray, center, assigned to Co. C, 3rd Bn., 501st Av. Regt., CAB, 1st AD, shows two Soldiers alternative firing methods of the M9 pistol.

First Lt. Dustin Brown said conducting a range like this forces the junior leaders to dig into the regulations to learn what the qualification requirements are and really take charge.

This new training strategy enables Soldiers to team build in addition to learning valuable leadership skills.

“We have some sergeants within the unit that are responsible for not only their junior enlisted Soldiers, but also some new warrant officers to it really helps them to understand and learn how to lead and give direction to both,” Brown said.

A Soldier assigned to 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, practices alternative firing methods for the M9 pistol at McGregor Range, N.M., Nov. 1.

Being an aviation unit, the Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Bn., 501st Aviation Regt., spend most of their days ensuring the Army’s aircrafts are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to any disasters, but they want to ensure their Soldiers are keeping up with their basic Soldiering skills.

“Most of our focus is on Air support, so it is good to get these guys out here to keep them sharp on ground training, so we have well rounded Soldiers in our ranks,” Brown said.

In addition to running this new type of range, the Soldiers had the added benefit of learning some new shooting techniques.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Ray said the Soldiers only get to qualify on their M9s about every six months, so leaders decided to incorporate some alternative shooting methods versus the standard techniques taught in the Army.

Ray, left, and Spc. Adrian Smith, both assigned to Co, C, 3rd Bn., 501st Av. Regt., CAB, 1st AD, review a target. (Above) Ammunition used in the M9 pistol.

“This opportunity allows us to create an out of the box type of training that Soldiers can learn and grow from with the limited time they have,” Ray said.