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Target distance tests marksmen’s limits

Sgt. Adam L. Mathis Staff Sgt. Michael Delgado of New York City, a squad leader with 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division aims at a target hundreds of meters away at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 13 as part of the Practical Extended Range Rifle

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Soldiers fired more than 10,000 rounds during a week of training. Those rounds flew toward targets most never dreamed they could hit, starting at 300 meters and moving.

Training 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers and others to hit targets many might not even try to shoot at is the goal of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Practical Extended Range Rifle Course. The five-day course, which last ran Sept. 10 to 14, teaches students the basic fundamentals of shooting - steady trigger squeeze, controlled breathing, looking through the sights in steady firing position - that every Soldier learns to engage these more challenging targets.

"By applying those basic four fundamentals of marksmanship they're able to shoot the same as if they're shooting at 100 meters all the way out to 600 meters," said Sgt. Ryan Parker, an instructor with the Combat Marksmanship Training Team, a part of the Warrior Training Academy.

While all Soldiers learn the basics, Parker said his students use these skills to hit targets outside the M-4 carbine's specified range, in part because they create a calm environment for the students.

"Most units when they go to the range, they have a direct purpose - they're either going out there to zero their weapon or to qualify. Most of the time they have other training going on, ... they're trying to hurry up and get that zero and ‘qual' done so they can do other training: live fires and stuff like that, whereas our direction, goal and focus is mainly just on marksmanship. So, we make it a more relaxed environment," Parker said.

Being able to relax is important. When shooting at targets, Soldiers must be able to consider environmental factors and the science of how the bullet travels, NCOIC Sgt. 1st Class Howard Lovin said.

"We're working near the maximum capacity of the weapon system," he said.

One student‘s experience proves why Soldiers need the course. Sergeant Daniel Sabedra shot at moving targets while deployed and in training, but he said this is the first time he has had in-depth training shooting moving targets.

"If the target is in a populated area, you want to make sure you're hitting that target. You want to make sure it's not going off course and going into somebody's house, you know, wounding innocent civilians or anything like that," said Sabedra, a team leader with the Raider Brigade.

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