Midshipmen Qualify on Small Arms
"Load! Make ready! Fire!" - These are the commands given to the new U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen during Plebe Summer at the small arms qualification course. Marksmanship training, like every challenge a midshipman faces, is overcome one step at a time.
The plebes will fire the M11 service pistol and M4 carbine, a lighter and shorter version of the M16A2, in a day at the range.
According to the Commandant of Midshipman Instruction 3591.lB, such marksmanship training will not only educate every midshipman in the basic use of small arms, but ensure each midshipman knows how to "safely and effectively use small arms to protect life and government property in combat and security situations."
The night before range day, instructors visited Bancroft Hall, the midshipmen's dorm, to educate the plebes on the firearms they would be using and the safety precautions that must be followed to ensure a safe environment at the range. This will happen about 25 times over the course of Plebe Summer.
"Safety is paramount; it's always the number one thing here," said Midshipman Joseph Flemming, pistol platoon commander. "Some people have never shot before, so you want make sure when they're up on the line, firing a real weapon, that they know what they're doing and are comfortable doing it."
After arriving on the academy range early the next morning, the plebes went over every inch of the weapons. They received instructions on each piece of the guns and what they do, then were allowed to "dry fire" the weapons. This typically gives new shooters a chance to get a feel for how much pressure is needed to pull the trigger and when the hammer will strike.