Changing qualifications: Improved program of instruction adds realism, moving targets to MP training Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Story and photo by Amy Newcomb
GUIDON staff

Company D, 787th Military Police Battalion implemented new qualifications, directed by the U.S. Army Military Police School, for Soldiers-in-training on the M9 pistol qualification range, Feb. 14.
Pvt. Brian Sexton, Company D, 787th Military Police Battalion, fires a 9mm Beretta pistol during the pre-qualification of the range, Feb. 14.

“We are the first company within this battalion to fire at the range under the new POI (program of instruction),” said Capt. Daniel Ross, commander.

Ross said his company was eager to complete the M9 pistol range under the new qualifications, and he felt this new range would ensure Soldier readiness for the MP mission.

“This new range will better prepare these young warriors to perform the total law enforcement mission,” Ross said. “Either in an active-shooter scenario or in the streets of Baghdad.”

The new POI consists of a four-day train-up for Soldiers. 1st Sgt. Don Spradlin said this training is a good thing and will bring realism, even as it brings challenges for Soldiers who have never touched a weapon.

“I think this is going to have a positive impact because in the beginning, being one of the first companies to go through this, the Soldier’s are getting more realistic training so they are better prepared for when they get to their units,” Spradlin said. “When they are seasoned Soldiers, and they do come across a situation where they have to use this in a law enforcement capacity, they will be better prepared.”

The previous POI for the M9 range was drill-sergeant-led, and Soldiers were required to wear the Interceptor Body Army and Kevlar, which away from combat, was not realistic.

The outdated POI started Soldiers off in the prone position, aiming at a stationary target 35 meters away. Soldiers would also fire the M9 pistol in a free-style position, using only one instead of two hands to fire the weapon.

“Before, the Soldiers would fire at stationary targets; the drill sergeants would walk them down and explain everything the Soldiers needed to do in order to hit the target,” Spradlin said. “Now, the Soldiers have the pop-up targets like at the M16 range which is a timed target, and the Soldiers have to make a decision.”

The new qualification requirements allow Soldiers to approach the M9 range under more realistic conditions, giving them experience for situations they may encounter as MPs once they leave training.

“They are required to do a four-step draw; they are required to draw the weapon, insert and exchange magazines, chamber a round and engage,” Ross said. “The critical piece of that is committing these motions to muscle memory.”

Prior to taking the range, Soldiers had to attend a class given by range cadre in order to learn the fundamentals of the M9. Once complete, they were then instructed on weapon characteristics, and the motions they would need to go through in order to be successful on the range.

Pvt. Amanda Wasson said she had fired an M9 prior to joining the Army, but going through the four-step draw process and firing at moving targets proved challenging.

“It’s totally different, I have never shot at moving targets before, its a lot harder, but I think this is going to help because you don’t shoot stationary targets in real life – you shoot moving targets,” Wasson said.

Soldiers were able to go through a mock scenario of what they would encounter at the range, which provided them with some background of what to expect before they headed to the pre-qualification stage of the range. Once complete, they then headed over for their qualification test.

   “It was a little nerve wracking at first knowing we had to drop the magazine and change the magazine in a certain time, but our drill sergeants went over this with us last night so it helped when we came out here,” said Pvt. Brian Sexton. “I thought I did pretty good.”

Ross ensured that all Company D Soldiers would be afforded every opportunity to be successful on the M9 pistol range.

“We are doing everything we can to be a success,” Ross said. “If we are successful, and the Soldiers have the training down, they will be prepared when they leave here.”
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 March 2011 )