By the time day 13 of the Leader Development and Assessment Course rolls around at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., the Cadets are itching for action. With ear plugs snugly placed in their ears, Cadets are eager to position themselves flat on the ground with their M-16 rifle and aim at their target. For some, this is the first time ever shooting a gun.
“BRM is the most exciting thing we do here at LDAC,” said 2nd Reg. Cadet Taylor Frechette from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It’s a crucial part. The time you put here will pay off in your officer career.”
BRM is the first chance Cadets have to fire a weapon at LDAC. They are given two twenty-round magazines of ammunition to shoot, each in two minutes. Cadets need to hit 26 out of 40 targets during group and zero in order to qualify for Squad Live Fire.
BRM training returned to LDAC this year after a four year absence. The BRM officer in charge, Maj. Robert E. Ricks III, is thrilled to see its comeback.
“We’re preparing Cadets through zeroing, hitting steel targets, and qualifying,” said Ricks. “We’re trying to teach confidence and an understanding of handling weapons, and this is a great start for Cadets to get that.”
Some Cadets have had limited exposure to weapons in their past training. This event gives them a higher degree of familiarity with their M-16 so they know how to properly assemble, clean, and disassemble them. On average, there are about 10 Cadets in each regiment that have never shot a gun before. Fourth Regiment Cadet Desiree Ortiz, from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas was one of those Cadets.
“I’m excited because this is my first time shooting, ever,” she said while waiting in line before group and zero. “All the Cadre are walking around and guiding us though, so I’m feeling pretty confident.”
For Ricks, it’s Cadets like Ortiz that make BRM so enjoyable. His favorite part about the event is the look of accomplishment on the faces of struggling Cadets, especially first-timers.
“It’s huge,” stated Ricks.
Whenever weapons are involved, Cadre are committed to following safety rules. Safety is always the top priority at LDAC and Cadre make sure to identify unsafe shooting habits among Cadets and correct them immediately.
“The way they’ve been trained has set them up to execute this event safely,” said Ricks. Second Reg. Cadet Nicholas Preskar from Ohio University confirmed that Cadets had received a lot of safety training beforehand.
“You must be constantly aware of safety and your muzzle at all times,” said Preskar. “These are loaded weapons. You must be aware or you could hurt somebody.”
Shooting live weapons is always going to be a highlight for Cadets at LDAC because of its exciting nature. But more importantly, they walk away with a heightened sense of safety and familiarization with their weapons, thanks to the Cadre who help make this possible.
“[Cadre] have come from all over the United States to create this team,” said Ricks. “Everyone’s done a magnificent job of coming together how we have and putting on this great event.”
Story by Allie Pasdera.