Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 13, 2017 at 4:03pm

Airmen set sights on excellence in competition

Staff Bryan Wilson, 116th Weather Flight weather forecaster, fires an M-4 Carbine rifle from a kneeling position during the Elementary Level Rifle Excellence Competition May 31 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

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Team McChord airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord put their marksmen skills to the test May 29-30 during the Elementary Level Rifle Excellence Competition at JBLM.

The competition was hosted by the 627th Security Forces Squadron combat arms section to provide an opportunity for airmen to compete for the U.S. Air Force Excellence in Competition Rifleman Badge.  

"Airmen do not have to have any prior experience," said Staff Sgt. Philip Basalyga, 627th SFS combat arms instructor. "This way career fields that don't shoot all the time get an opportunity to come out and be exposed to shooting."  

Competitors were provided instruction, a rifle, ammunition and targets to fire at. The competition was among 103 competitors, of which only the top 10 percent would receive medals. This is the second competition of its kind held for airmen at JBLM.

Prior to shooting, competitors were given instruction on safety and arms handling at Combat Arms Training and Maintenance on McChord. They were then transported to the firing range located by Solo Point, Steilacoom.  

"This provides weapons familiarization to airmen," said Basalyga. "In my opinion familiarization training is one of the most important things to have in the event an airman needs to use, one of these weapon systems in a hostile environment."

Arriving at the range, airmen received 50 rounds of M-4 Carbine ammunition, safety gear and an M-4 rifle ready for use. Unlike Air Force qualification shooting, the competition was hosted in the same manner as a marksmen competition and instructors were not allowed to assist shooters in the use of the M-4 or provide tips for shooting.

"It's a positive promotion for fire arms and introduces airmen to the world of competitive shooting," said Basalyga. Competitors were given a practice target and nine rounds to zero their rifles at 25 meters to ensure their rifle's sights were accurate and aligned to their field of sight. Following this, competitive shooting began with shooters firing in an unsupported standing position.  

"As a paralegal we don't get to fire often," said Staff Sgt. Preston Nealy, 62nd Airlift Wing judge advocate NCO in charge of general law. "Coming off a four-day weekend, it's great to come out here and hit the range."

After shooting 10 rounds at a target in a standing position, shooters shot 10 rounds at a new target from an unsupported kneeling position. This was followed by shooters firing 10 rounds at a third target from an unsupported sitting position.

"I've never shot in the sitting position before," said Nealy. "Shooting like this for the first time really challenged me and gave me experience in becoming a better marksman."

The last position shooters shot in was the unsupported kneeling position, where they shot their final 20 rounds at their fourth target. The four targets provided shooters the opportunity to make a maximum of 500 points.  

Ten airmen placed in the top 10 percent and will be awarded the U.S. Air Force Excellence in Competition Rifleman Badge to be worn on their Air Force service dress.

The winners are:
Staff Sgt. Franco Pace, 627th SFS
Maj. Jordan Ward, 7th AS
Master Sgt. Christopher Brower, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron
Staff Sgt. Jacob Ley, 627th SFS
Senior Airman Christopher Lowe, 62nd Maintenance Squadron   
Staff Sgt. Curtis Hinkley, 5th ASOS
Staff Sgt. Luis Lira, 627th SFS
Tech. Sgt. Kevin Beers, 446th Security Forces Squadron
Staff Sgt. Bradley Primmer, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Jesus Mendez, 627th SFS

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