Firing weapons benefited the cadets’ future roles
by DeJanay Booth
Cadets scanned the range that laid before them. Lanes were numbered from left to right, and red and blue targets were spread out. Now in the prone position, ready to fire their weapon, they held them steady, directing their eyes to the targets. Shots were fired, sounding off like a war zone.
Their bodies absorbed the recoil each shot with each shot, and shell casings flew and landed a few inches from them. An echo followed each volley, lasting no more than five seconds.
Each group had four to five Cadets, allowing each one a chance to shoot a few rounds. Cadets from 3rd and 4th Regiments of Leader Assessment and Development Course (LDAC) underwent machine gun familiarization training, and were introduced to two firearms, the M240 Bravo machine gun and M249 squad automatic weapon. As Army officers, they will need to understand the capabilities of each weapon.
Cadet Brittany Weatherbee, a senior at Norwich University in Northfield, Conneticut, said she thought the gun would be difficult to shoot.
“I thought it was going to be a lot of weight into my shoulder,” Weatherbee said. “It turned out to be the exact opposite. It was pretty smooth.”
Capt. Pete Farese, from the University of Maryland in College Park, and the deputy officer in charge of the range, said the future Army officers will not use the weapons, but understanding how to employ them is essential.
“It still gives them a good perspective as to what the awesome power that they will have at their disposal once they’re leaders in the Army,” Farese said. “Then they’ll have the confidence to employ those weapons — not only in training but also in combat.”
Several of the Cadets have not used either weapon; however, Cadet Christian Mendez, a senior at University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, said he has shot them before.
“It was good to have an experience with a battle buddy that haven’t shot it before,” Mendez said. “You could correct and make them familiarize faster so they could get better and keep that tradition going from platoon leader to platoon leader, Cadet to Cadet.”
Cadet Phillip Bridges, a senior at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, said: “We’re soldiers first and foremost. We should be able to do any task that is asked of us or that we ask our men. This is a good way to make sure that we are able to do all tasks that we want our soldiers to do.”
No matter what branch they choose to pursue, Cadets benefited from the training for their future roles as Army officers.