Marksmanship Class Teaches Gun Safety and More
July 16, 2023Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸Marksmanship Class Teaches Gun Safety and More
By Jennifer Green, CMP Feature Writer
The Pistol Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) started out with a bang at the National Matches at Camp Perry. The Small Arms Firing School took place on July 10th, 2023, and is geared toward new and intermediate shooters and provides classroom instruction and ends with shooting an Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) match to finish off the day.
Participants gathered in the Hough Theater to begin the SAFS class. SSG Ryan Franks and SSG Walter Johnson of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Service Pistol Team led the instruction. The class covered the basics of pistol marksmanship, discussing minimizing arc of movement, sight alignment and trigger control before explaining the EIC match and course of fire.
SSG Johnson hopes that students take away the “safe application of pistol marksmanship.” Each participant in the class was issued an M9 pistol and ammunition on the line. This allows an opportunity for anyone to learn, even if they don’t own a pistol. Participants new to pistol shooting were walked through a real match with a coach standing right behind them, providing top of the line instruction to introduce them to the sport safely.
The USAMU instructors’ passion for marksmanship was palpable as they explained pistol safety and provided many opportunities for questions and one-on-one instruction throughout the day. Additional coaches and the USAMU gunsmiths were available to make sure everyone could get individual learning time and get familiar with the M9 pistol.
SSG Johnson said that he and his team “work very hard to provide information to participants at any level in this class. If you’ve never touched a pistol or you’re someone who has shot this several years in a row, we want to make sure that everyone is getting some kind of positive information and apply it immediately out here right on the range.”
For the range portion of the class, there was roughly one coach for every two participants. There were six strings of fire; three practice strings and three EIC match strings. The first string was 10 shots slow-fired in 5 minutes. The second string was 2 strings of 5 shots in 20 seconds for a total of 10 shots. The last string is 2 rounds of 5 shots in 10 seconds for a total of 10 rounds. The top 10% of shooters who did not already have EIC points were eligible for 4 points towards the 30 points needed to earn the Distinguished Pistol Badge. A total of 17 competitors earned points with the unofficial cut-off score of 223-3X.
Jason Kozora, a first-time pistol SAFS course participant, was impressed with the coaching. “The instruction was fantastic, having no real pistol background, the coaches tweaked my position and got me zoned in and helped me identify things I need to work on” he said. Jason also appreciated the information on how a pistol match is set up. Kozora has a background in rifle and noted that the pistol match set up is “completely different.”
Much of the instruction was about the mental part of shooting, with coaches reminding students to think positively, using positive talk to focus on what they did well and what they can improve, instead of focusing on negative things.
Col. Greg Kitchens, who usually attends the advanced pistol course, was a line coach at this year’s SAFS class. The Colonel is retired Marine Corps and spent the last five years in the reserve running the Marine Corps Reserve Marksmanship Unit. Col. Kitchens wants his students to have fun, learn safety and have an appreciation for the fact that this sport is challenging. “It’s difficult, there’s no instant gratification, but if you work at with dedication it you can do well. I’m just glad more people are coming out” he stated.
Full results from the M9 EIC Match can be viewed on the CMP website at https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&tab=results&match=24489. Photos may be viewed at https://cmp1.zenfolio.com/f210289030.
For more information on signing up for the upcoming Rifle Small Arms Firing School, please visit: https://thecmp.org/training-tech/small-arms-firing-schools/.