Training during COVID-19
by Sgt. 1st Class Brad Griffith
As we move deeper into quarantine and further away from normal, there is a tremendous opportunity for growth and learning. We could spend this time to “Netflix and chill,” or we could look for ways to make ourselves more capable.
All Army Reserve Battle Assemblies have canceled for March and April. So much has changed in how we teach, train, and view basic Soldier skills that this is a perfect time for you to catch up on any the changes you may have missed. Below you will find a few ideas on how to come back from the break sharper than ever.
The ARMU Resources site is packed with content to stay sharp while you’re shut in. Spend some time getting smart on the new Individual Weapon Qualification (IWQ) that takes effect on 01 OCT 2020 or becoming more familiar with current doctrinal Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction and Evaluation (PMI&E). Still preaching Steady Position, Aiming, Breathing, and Trigger Squeeze, or SPORTS? You need to visit ARMU Resources ASAP! https://www.usar.army.mil/Commands/Functional/ARMU/Resources/
This is also a good time to plan a Postal Match: https://www.usar.army.mil/Commands/Functional/ARMU/Resources/PostalMatch/
The transition from the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) has been one of the highest training priorities across the Army for over a year. The ACFT resources site has all the information you need to know about the test and tons of resources to stay fit while stuck at home. Come back ready to crush the test by visiting the ACFT resources site. The last day to take an APFT for record was 15 March 2020. So if you’re not ready for the ACFT, it’s time to hit up the ACFT resources site. https://www.army.mil/acft/
Army Reserve Soldiers from 3-335th TSBn (85th Reserve Support Command) started an enhanced unit-level training program that utilizes participation in local competitions to build skills beyond Army qualification standards. The Southport Gun Club conducted an Open Sectional Indoor Pistol Championship in Kenosha, Wisconsin open to the public and these Soldiers took advantage.
“Competitions like this embody the concept of promoting excellence at all levels,” said Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Matthew Fall. “I would like to see continued unit participation in these events.” This Open Sectional event coincided with the unit’s scheduled Battle Assembly, allowing Soldiers to participate in the evening after drill.
Unit leadership is using a Retention Via Readiness approach with a series of events throughout the fiscal year, using the stress of match conditions as a training tool and to prepare for the 2020 All Army Small Arms Championship. “I thought it was great shooting in the competition,” said Master Sgt. Cody Brunet. “It’s such a perishable skill, and it is amazing how adding a little stress with timed shooting can change everything.”
While team members had been given guidance on drills and techniques, team captain Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosendorn understood the benefit of exposing the team to the stress of shooting under actual match conditions. Moreover, the difficulty of the event’s particular shooting discipline was an excellent means of pushing individuals and moving them out of their comfort zones. “I was looking for a way to challenge our team members and was pleased with the level of enthusiasm among them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn. “Additionally, I was thrilled with the hospitality of both the Southport Gun Club and the civilian competitors there that evening.”
After completing normal duties, these Soldiers traveled on their own to the event. The Southport Gun Club 2020 NRA Open Sectional Indoor .22LR Championship is part of a series of competitions held around the country and open to the public, with the results collected and posted to determine the overall national champion. The match is a 90 round Precision Pistol (Bullseye) match, shot entirely one-handed at scaled targets 50 feet away. “It was a humbling but fun experience,” Maj. David Zizkovsky. “You think that you are a pretty good shot, and then you have to try it one handed.”
Army Regulation directs all Soldiers to benefit from formal marksmanship events. Soldiers of the 3-335th Training Support Battalion “Blackhawks” (85th Reserve Support Command) used this training tool to enhance retention and boost training.
Fort Sheridan, Ill.
Soldiers from the 3-335th Training Support Battalion (85th Reserve Support Command) used a local Engagement Skills Trainer to conduct a Postal Match as a part of their unit Marksmanship Team tryouts. In an effort to improve Unit marksmanship skills, esprit de corp, and retention, the 3-335th “Blackhawks” have committed to fielding a team of six Soldiers to compete in the 2020 All Army Small Arms Championship.
During the Unit’s OCT Battle Assembly, Lt. Col. Keith Cowan and Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Fall directed leadership to put together a list of Soldiers interested in representing their Battalion at All Army. The intent to conduct a form of selection was expressed. Information about the event and overall goal was put out, and after schedules were taken into consideration, 14 3-335th Soldiers signed on for the upcoming tryouts to take place as a part of their November Battle Assembly.
1st Sgt. James Salm and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosendorn helped conduct the training. “I was very impressed with the chain of command’s enthusiasm and support with regards to working towards sending a team to the All Army match.” Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn said. “I was equally impressed with the level of interest among Soldiers within the Unit.”
As scheduled, the “Blackhawks” Soldiers utilized a local EST facility to conduct their Postal Match and All Army tryouts. Simulators are directed as a part of Table II in the Army’s Individual Weapon Training Strategy (TC 3-20.0) and any of them can be used to host an Informal Postal Match. Staff Sgt. David Kukla, Training NCO from 85th RSC, was on hand for support and assistance during the entire process. Four separate courses of fire were put together, with a maximum aggregate possible score of 150 points. These included a scored zero and rifle qualification, pistol qualification, and a modified Precision Pistol (Bullseye) course.
Staff Sgt. David Kukla confirmed the effectiveness of this approach, saying, “Having a unit come prepared to train at my site, in this manner was appreciated. The EST seems to be an afterthought to many, and as a result, tends to be underutilized.”
Using a Postal Match or other organized shooting format is a way to enhance EST use. The Soldiers participating also found this beneficial. Capt. Jeremy Crochiere said, “The EST tryout was a great way to evaluate potential team members, utilizing a variety of shooting skills, rapidly and efficiently.” Staff Sgt. Paul Prado added, “I liked the tryout because it is a good competition for all, a fair competition. All Soldiers fired the same number of rounds, with the same targets and environment (conditions).”