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CATM: Training warfighters

U.S. Air Force Airmen fire M-4 Carbines at targets during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen fire M-4 Carbines at targets during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018. While at CATM, military and civilian personnel learn how to fire a weapon, as well as learn the internals of their weapons and how to clean them properly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Young, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, dons a gas mask and helmet during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Young, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, dons a gas mask and helmet during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018. Individuals train using gas masks to practice firing a weapon in the event that they need to shoot while in Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rick Bones, 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power craftsman, loads 5.56 mm frangible rounds into a magazine during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rick Bones, 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron electrical power craftsman, loads 5.56 mm frangible rounds into a magazine during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018. CATM used Frangible ammunition because it is very brittle and shatters on impact, preventing ricochets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Young, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, fires an M-4 Carbine at targets during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Young, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, fires an M-4 Carbine at targets during training at the combat arms training and maintenance range at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018. Individuals attending CATM train by firing their weapon while laying down, kneeling and standing in order to practice firing in different scenarios.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Garrett Christ, 633rd Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance range instructor, checks and scores the targets at the combat arms training and maintenance at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Garrett Christ, 633rd Security Forces Squadron combat arms training and maintenance range instructor, checks and scores the targets at the combat arms training and maintenance at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 23, 2018. To qualify on their weapon, individuals must fire M-4 Carbines at targets and must hit the target properly a certain number of times to qualify in that weapon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

While deployed, or when in a hostile environment, the need to fire a weapon can occur in an instant’s notice, or without notice at all.

Air Force combat arms training and maintenance (CATM) range instructors teach Airmen how to properly handle and use their firearms, so when the need to fire them arises, the Airmen are prepared.

The job of CATM instructors is to train military and civilian members, who may have little to extensive experience with weapons. These members are often deploying, receiving a permanent change of station (PCS) or requalifying according to their duty regulations.

“It’s very important everybody understands the bare basics of a weapon system, and it’s our job to make sure that [individuals] can adequately use their firearm in a safe manner in order to go down range to protect themselves and their wingmen,” said Staff Sgt. Garrett Christ, 633rd Security Forces Squadron (SFS) CATM instructor.

The instructors have many different types of weaponry that they train members on, to include M-240 machine guns and M-203 grenade launchers. However, individuals who are deploying or PCSing most commonly train with the M-4 Carbine and the M-9 Beretta.

Along with learning how to fire a weapon properly, the instructors at CATM also teach the course attendees about the internal workings of their weapon and how to clean them properly.

According to Master Sgt. Murat Elahi, 633rd SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms, while attending CATM, it’s important for individuals to watch for warning signs and listen to the instructors as it can be dangerous, both on and around the range while individuals are firing weapons. To alleviate the potential for hazards, members can also take a weapons computer based training to prepare for their upcoming course.

“You could come here with no experience with an M4 or an M9 and by the time you leave here after our one or two day classes you would be an expert at shooting, engaging a target, protecting yourself, protecting your peers and being a vital asset to the combatant commander,” Elahi said.

While the instructors not only teach people deploying, a large portion of their job is to also assist the fellow security forces squadron, Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the local Police Departments with weapons requalifying for their every day jobs.

According to Elahi, while not everyone who is deployed works as security, it is still important for everyone to know how to protect themselves, their team and the mission while supporting combatant commanders worldwide.