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.