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Old May 17, 2014, 10:02 PM   #1
SC4006
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My experience at Ft. Benning

As some of you may know, I started a thread a few months ago asking about the weapons i'll be using while at Infantry OSUT, you can find the thread Here. I was told to dig up the tread when I returned, but I want to start a few one. I want to try and keep this SOMEWHAT short, as I could go on forever about my experience there.

So I left for Ft. Benning on January 28th, and am very happy to announce that I graduated on May 16!! I had an absolute blast (literally) with all of the weapons training I had there, in fact, I'd say it was my favorite part of basic training. At around week 2 we were issued to my surprise M4 Carbines. I thought we would get M16s, but we didn't. We dove right into familiarization with the M4, and learned general safety (ie not pointing it at anyone). Another thing that slightly surprised me as well was the fact that the M4 had a burst function rather than auto, but our Drill Sergeants told us at the beginning that we would NEVER use anything but semi while there, which we did exactly. I didn't know much about the AR15 platform before I came there, but I caught on very quickly in how to disassemble and reassemble it, as well as do a functions check, plus everything else. I was absolutely amazed however at just how ignorant some of the other recruits in my platoon were when it came to handling weapons and disassembling/reassembling them, which I guess I can't blame them seeing as most had never even touched a weapon at the time. But still, some were trying to jam parts in places that they OBVIOUSLY wouldn't fit, even assembling the M4 with the front pin in the rear pin hole if you know what I mean.

At around week 3 we jumped into BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship). We started by sighting in the M4 at 25m, with the M68 Optic. Next we were gradually introduced to targets that were further away, and also more than one timed target at a time. After weeks of practice came qualification day. We had to hit a total of 40 targets ranging from 50m to 300m, and 23 hits was the minimum to qualify. We shot 20 rounds from the prone supported position, 10 from the prone unsupported, and 10 from the kneeling position. I was pretty confident and sure of myself that I could qualify as at least sharpshooter (32+ I think), but I actually ended up qualifying as expert!! I hit 37 out of 40 targets. I missed the 300m twice while in the prone unsupported, and the 200m once while kneeling. There were actually two recruits in my company who hit all 40.

A few weeks later we were introduced to the M249 and M240. We were given a brief overview of disassembly and reassembly, as well as how they function, then we moved right onto shooting them. We shot a total of 100 rounds each, at various targets ranging from 100m to 600m. I really enjoyed shooting the 249, its fairly lightweight, and the recoil is minimal and easy to control and keep on target. The 240 was fun, but I actually found it a bit difficult to keep the muzzle from climbing too high. I'm not the biggest person around, so the 240 is a bit of a handful for me, the 249 however seemed to be the perfect size for me. Another thing about the 240 is that it sure makes a racket! Even with earplugs in, it's quite a noisy weapon to say the least.

Next we were introduced to the AT4 rocket launcher, and the M2 .50 Cal MG on the same day. This was definitely the most fun weapons training day I had. We started out with dummy AT4s and got familiar with how they function, then we moved on to training ones that actually fired 9mm tracer rounds. Only one person was selected to fire a real AT4 (not me unfortunately), and all I could say after it was fired was WOW! It was quite amazing to see and feel the blast the AT4 makes when fired, and when the rocket hits the target. Now for the Ma Deuce, which was easily my favorite weapon while at BCT. We were again given basic instructions on how it operates, then jumped right into shooting it. We shot about 50 rounds each. We shot belts of ammunition that was organized so every 5th round was a tracer, so that was pretty cool. When I first, I guess pushed not pulled the trigger, I couldn't help but have a big smile on my face, just because of the massive amount of firepower that was at my thumbs. I had though the 240 was loud, but this thing was CRAZY loud. Another interesting thing I noted was that there is so much gas the comes out the end of the barrel, it leaves a massive black carbon spot on the ground under the muzzle, now that's how you know you know it has a lot of firepower! When all 10 of these things were being fired at the same time, I couldn't hear ANYTHING besides the MGs.

Now for the explosives. We got experience with frag grenades, claymores, and various IEDs, although frags were the only non practice explosive we got to use. As far as claymores we got basic instruction on how they are used, how to arm and plant them, and how to trigger them. With IEDs we were taught the basic components, and how to avoid them basically. Now for grenades. We practiced A LOT with fake ones. They had a very specific way they wanted us to throw them, which our Drill Sergeants said we would probably never use in real combat, its just how they teach us. When it came time to use real grenades, we got to throw two. That was an amazing experience to say the least. The amount of power that's contained in that little thing is amazing too. I must admit, it was a little nerve wracking pulling the pin when in hand, but I guess it's just motivation to throw it further haha. Of course it doesn't actually arm until the spoon comes off, but still. They are much louder than I had imagined too, they even shook the ground!

That's about all I can remember as far as weapons training, I don't think we used anything else. Although I forgot to talk about one of the coolest things we did with our M4's, nighttime firing with night vision! I had always wanted to see what night vision was like, and it's quite amazing. We had lasers we mounted on the top rail of our M4's, then just pointed the laser at the target while looking through the night vision on our helmets and fired. I was amazed at how easy it was to engage targets at night while pitch black.

I'm not going to talk as much about the MANY other aspects of BCT as this is a firearms forum of course, but I will say it has definitely changed me for the better. I feel more confident, sure of myself, and I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. There is always room for more improvement though, which I will do when I start doing drills with my NG unit, and on my own. The first few weeks were very though, mainly because the drill sergeants would scream in our face about practically everything, but also because it was hard to adjust being away from home, and the civilian things I enjoyed. I eventually adjusted to life at basic training though, after about 4 weeks the basic training life became the norm. I friend of mine in the Army told me before I joined that it's the most fun you'll never want to do again, and that it sure was. I couldn't be happier that I graduated and left that place for good though, that's for sure. If I forgot anything, or if anyone has questions I'll make new posts.
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Old May 18, 2014, 01:52 AM   #2
hoghunting
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It's always more fun shooting someone else's ammo. Glad you had a very enlightened experience there. Thank you for taking time out of your life to serve in our military, your service is very appreciated.
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Old May 18, 2014, 01:52 AM   #3
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Congrats on your graduating and completion of it. You are now in a unique club.

Your experience was quite like mine, although I went through Officer Basic in part at Benning. I had a really enjoyable few months there, although was ready to be done when it was over and my experience was very physically and mentally demanding. I remember being pretty exhausted when I finished, and then I went right to 3 weeks of Airborne school. I was spent when I completed all of that training.

I actually didn't care much for the way they train on weapons, though. A lot of talking and theory, and very little actual shooting. This is where I disagree with the military training model. Too little doing and too much talking. I suppose it's a money saving measure... Lot's of standing around, watching someone shoot...

Later in my career, I got into a SF unit (staff) and was able to get a lot more freedom on the range. This is where I really got to experience a ton of different weapon platforms, grenades, etc. I was really fortunate!

Anyway, glad you enjoyed it.
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Old May 18, 2014, 07:50 AM   #4
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Congrats to you. I just stopped by Benning and checked out the Infantry Museum while I was there. Awesome place, they definitely did it right.


Again, congrats on your great accomplishment.
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Old May 18, 2014, 04:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the congrats guys. Leadcounsel, I have to agree a little bit with what you said about the weapons training. It was certainly fun, but I also experienced a lot of standing around waiting and doing nothing while at the range. Our drill sergeants even admitted to us that ammo was fairly limited due to expense, and saving money. I'm actually considering becoming an officer too, except I want to take the ROTC route if I decide on becoming a 2LT. Kmber84, the National Infantry Museum is a truly magnificent place, I was amazed at just how well laid out it is, as well as the content. I will definitely return there someday.
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Old May 18, 2014, 08:07 PM   #6
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Congratulations on graduating! I graduated eight years ago and still have vivid memories.
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Old May 19, 2014, 12:02 AM   #7
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As others have said, thank you for your service.

And I really hope that with so many of us saying that so many times that there will be some benefits to back up our words. Just saying 'thanks' IMhO doesn't cut it-there needs to be some real action and commitment behind what we and our leaders say.

Did you get any handgun training?

What are you going to be doing now?
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Old May 19, 2014, 09:21 AM   #8
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From an oldtimer

It is interesting to see how things have changed. I grew up at Ft Benning when it was the Infantry Center. Now it is the Mobility Center. When I went back to visit, I could see how much it has changed but is still a great place.
I took BCT at Ft Leonard Wood MO in 1976. Back then, we trained on the M16A1 and the M203 Grenade Launcher. Both of those are still stalwarts and are fun to shoot.
My wife took BCT at Ft McClellan AL in 1977. She got the newer M16A2 but still got to fire the M203. She is still trying to figure out how to legally own an M16A2 but I think she will be content with an AR15 with the stock and forearm of the M16A2.
Congratulations on your graduation. Whether you do one tour or go to retirement, take the good with the bad and realize that those of us that proceeded you thank you for your continuing commitment to preserving what we have fought so hard to maintain.
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Old May 19, 2014, 12:56 PM   #9
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And again, Thank You for picking up what so many before you have carried. It makes those of us who have gone before feel good that others are willing to continue after. You've joined a new club and opportunities you could never have before may open up for you. You mentioned changes you've noticed in yourself, you may not realize it yet but you probably don't even think the same way you used to. Good Luck, God Bless.

It was M16A1s, M60s, M203s, and M72 LAWs for me at Ft. Dix, NJ. 1981.
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Old May 19, 2014, 01:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizonaopa
She is still trying to figure out how to legally own an M16A2 but I think she will be content with an AR15 with the stock and forearm of the M16A2.
You know, when I went, we were one of the last companies to issue M16A4s instead of M4s, but I have trained with M16A2s as well, and a plain stock M16A2 with no rails and no electro-optical sight is for some reason a great favorite of mine.
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Old May 19, 2014, 01:46 PM   #11
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You know that reminds me, I DID forget to mention one weapon system we trained on, the good ol' 203. We spent one full day at the range with the 203, which was mounted under M16A4s. We had these practice 40mm grenades that had orange chalk in them, so when they impacted something they would explode into a cloud of orange dust so we could see where we hit more easily. Only 4 people got to shoot real explosive grenades (1 each), and I yet again wasn't one, but it was still amazing to watch and hear them explode.

As far as the changes I've noticed, you're probably right lcpiper, I think I do think differently actually. It's been a few days since I've been back home, but I'm still adjusting to the civilian world. After 14 weeks of nothing but military, and almost no physical contact with the civilian world, it's kind of weird being back in it. The biggest thing is that almost NOBODY including my family really understands any military terminology or military jokes my buddies and I used to say while in basic.

DaleA, I didn't get any handgun training while at Ft. Benning. I thought maybe I might see the M9 a little bit, but we didn't. As far as what I'm doing now, I'm not active duty I'm National Guard, so I'll be drilling with my unit (172nd Infantry Regiment in NH) one weekend a month and two weeks annually. The main reason I went NG was because I've always wanted to be a soldier, but also go to college at the same time, so what better way to do both than join the NG. I think I want to take criminal justice to help me get a job as a state police officer. I've been thinking about going active duty maybe down the road, I also plan on trying to get into airborne school someday as well.
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Old May 19, 2014, 06:08 PM   #12
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Oh, I am so remiss, as so many others here will likely testify as well, once they think of it. I forgot to mention something about when I first came back home after training and sat down to have a home cooked meal prepared by my Mother of course. After all that time away in a military environment with nothing but other young men around, well you know how the language tends toward the rough side. Watch your tongue at the Dinner table or you'll embarrass yourself until your dying day
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Old May 19, 2014, 07:01 PM   #13
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How was purgatory aka 30th AG for you. Dear gawd I think I was stuck there three weeks... Most boring 3 weeks of my life.
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Old May 19, 2014, 07:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
How was purgatory aka 30th AG for you. Dear gawd I think I was stuck there three weeks... Most boring 3 weeks of my life.
Oh boy, don't even get me started about 30th AG, I HATED it there. I was there for exactly a week, I could not even begin to imagine 3 weeks. It was boring, we got no sleep, we couldn't do pt, it was terrible. The only good thing was the food, and the fact that we got a choice in what we ate (unlike at basic), but even then the food was mediocre. It was essentially a week of "hurry up and wait".
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Old May 19, 2014, 07:46 PM   #15
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I find it interesting that they didn't teach any handgun shooting. Is the Army having a hard time finding 9mm ball ammo

Really, though, it is a bit disturbing since there will be some soldiers who will be issued those M9 pistols. I hope that further training is accomplished by our soldiers once they are in active units, or get assigned to specialties that may require caring the pistol. NCOs, tankers, artillery, are there not a lot of people with a pistol in today's army?

And if we have MPs that are not well trained in use of the M9, I just don't want to hear about it.

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Old May 19, 2014, 07:50 PM   #16
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Congratulations on graduating! I graduated in 1965 and still have vivid memories. The last day I spent at Benning was the day I was pinned Airborne
given my orders to report to the 101st Airborne in the Republic of South Vietnam. Then life became very exciting. You should be proud and thanks for serving our country.
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Old May 19, 2014, 08:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bart noir
I find it interesting that they didn't teach any handgun shooting. Is the Army having a hard time finding 9mm ball ammo
There's no infantry handgun training because a handgun is a very irrelevant piece of equipment to the modern military, despite all the discussions on gunboards. The military would be just as effective carrying Colt 1860 blackpowder revolvers for their handguns.
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Old May 19, 2014, 09:39 PM   #18
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Congratulations on completion of your Basic Training!

I also found the M2HB the absolute most impressive weapon to fire ...... Ma Duece, indeed! Just like Ma Bell: reach out and touch someone! If you can see it, you can (in most cases) reach it...... and even if you can't see it yourself, there are indirect fire tables (at least there were when I was in the Field Artillery) for it ......

Quote:
NCOs, tankers, artillery, are there not a lot of people with a pistol in today's army?
IMME (In My Military Experience ) only very senior NCO's (1stSGT , Sergeant Majors) carried a sidearm ..... tankers/mech artillery had M-16's ..... some of the maintenance guys in the M88's and M578's even had the old M-3 submachine guns .....
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Old May 19, 2014, 10:17 PM   #19
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Yes as far as the whole pistol/sidearm thing goes, we were taught that our assigned weapon (either M4 or M249 SAW most likely) is our everything on the battlefield. I recall one recruit asking the drill sergeant if we would ever get to use pistols when we get to our unit, and he replied by saying that its unlikely we will use pistols, and if we do carry one into combat, its almost a guarantee we won't ever use it.
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Old May 20, 2014, 10:55 AM   #20
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Really, though, it is a bit disturbing since there will be some soldiers who will be issued those M9 pistols.
If a soldier is issued a sidearm then he receives training on sidearms, no need to be concerned. The Army has been in the killing business for a very long time and they do excell at it. Take for instance an example where a few bad guys take some shots at a convey and the soldiers dismount to engage them. Now if those bad guys run into a house the Infantry will not follow them inside, no. They have been killed by IEDs doing exactly that so no close quarters fun for them. They will just isolate the building and call in the Apaches and in just a very few minutes they will initiate a foreign trade agreement, three bad guys for one Hellfire Missile.
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Old May 21, 2014, 12:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leadcounsel
I actually didn't care much for the way they train on weapons, though. A lot of talking and theory, and very little actual shooting. This is where I disagree with the military training model. Too little doing and too much talking. I suppose it's a money saving measure... Lot's of standing around, watching someone shoot...
At least when I went through in mid-2010, there was actually no live fire for the Army OCS course at Ft Benning. We fired blanks during squad/platoon lanes in the field but that was all. OCS is more about leadership than mastery of a particular specialty or weapon(s).
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Old May 21, 2014, 07:24 PM   #22
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My BCT in 1974 saw me issued with and M16E1, basically the trials version of what became the M16A1. I have to admit that round hand guards on M16A2, M4 or clones feels odd.

Looks like you had similar daylight qualification with optics that we had without. But we had a night time component that was expected to be fired on auto though short bursts were instructed. That's night fire with iron sights, no laser, no thermal, no IR not even luminous paint. The lucky guys for that part of the qualification were on the end of the range that some tracers set on fire so their targets were back-lit.

I predate the AT4 but the LAW rocket launcher was fun. We had one range at Ft Hood with lower than expected attendance so everyone got to fire 5 or 6 of the 20mm sub-caliber rockets, which indicate hit with a large white cloud of smoke, and a live round. The targets, old armored hulk, were all stationary but it was fairly easy to pick where on the targets to hit at up to 200 yards.

If you the Ma Deuce is impressive wait until you get to work around tank gunnery.
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Old May 21, 2014, 08:55 PM   #23
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That's night fire with iron sights, no laser, no thermal, no IR not even luminous paint. The lucky guys for that part of the qualification were on the end of the range that some tracers set on fire so their targets were back-lit.
wow, now I bet that was difficult. I remember when we did our nighttime range session, it was pitch black, and I believe it was a new moon. Without the aid of our night vision we couldn't see the targets at all. Makes me feel lucky that in this day in age we get to use all the "high tech" gadgets like night vision, lasers, and optics to help us out.

Quote:
If you the Ma Deuce is impressive wait until you get to work around tank gunnery.
This is actually something i've always wanted to experience, seeing an M1A2 abrams tank fire. In fact I originally wanted to join in as a 19K M1 Armor Crewman, but the NH NG just doesn't have the opportunities for that mos, and joining the infantry was really growing on me, so here I am now. I'm sure at some point in my career i'll get to work around some tanks.
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Old May 21, 2014, 09:11 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Noir
I find it interesting that they didn't teach any handgun shooting. Is the Army having a hard time finding 9mm ball ammo

Really, though, it is a bit disturbing since there will be some soldiers who will be issued those M9 pistols. I hope that further training is accomplished by our soldiers once they are in active units, or get assigned to specialties that may require caring the pistol. NCOs, tankers, artillery, are there not a lot of people with a pistol in today's army?

And if we have MPs that are not well trained in use of the M9, I just don't want to hear about it.

Bart Noir
No, there's no time to do handgun shooting, and no real need. MPs will do it during their AIT for MOS certification. Everyone else who is issued an M9 on the TOE will qualify with it prior to deploying with it. In my old company that was officers, the first sergeant, the medics, and the M240 gunners. The M240 assistant gunners would also qualify on the M9 but not carry one (They qualified because the gunners and AGs were expected to be interchangeable). All but the M240 gunners carried M4s as well.

Most soldiers in roles that traditionally would have been armed only with a pistol now carry a carbine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ballardw
The targets, old armored hulk, were all stationary but it was fairly easy to pick where on the targets to hit at up to 200 yards.
That reminds me of the day when we got a whole pallet of AT4s during an annual training. Almost half the company got to shoot one. But in typical fashion, we were shooting at targets on one of the M2/Mk19 ranges and for safety purposes were not allowed to shoot at any of the targets closer than 300 meters.

Since 300 meters is the book maximum effective range against a point target with an AT4, and training also dictated for safety purposes that we shoot from the standing position... only one guy actually hit the target.

It's kind of funny, if you miss with an AT4 at that range into the kind of backstop we had, the rocket would usually richochet up and detonate 50-150 feet in the air.

Last edited by Madcap_Magician; May 21, 2014 at 09:20 PM.
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Old May 21, 2014, 11:03 PM   #25
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If you the Ma Deuce is impressive wait until you get to work around tank gunnery.
Tank gunnery is weak as turkish lemonade next to General Support Artillery ......

A late 1980's CALFEX* was truly impressive. A Ft. Sill CAPEX** was more bang, but had less manuever .....

Desert Storm was a 2 week Air/NavalBombardmen/Artillery CAPEX with a 3 day unlimited ammo and fuel budget CALFEX at the end ..... yessir, I have seen some truly amazing sights ........


* Combined Arms Live Fire Excercise

** Capabilities Exercise
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