Cadets learn proper handling of weapons

Mariah Hicks

The “metallic click” is what they call it. It’s what happens when you squeeze the trigger of an M4A1 and the hammer falls then resets. With the 33-inch guns rested within the indent of cadets’ shoulders, the “cli-clank” echoed through the classrooms and hallways of Terrace Hall Wednesday morning.

“Click,” cadets pulled the charging handle back. “Click,” the handle was released. “Click,” the trigger was pulled, the hammer fell and reset.

Amber Popovitch, a junior speech pathology and audiology major and freshman cadet, pointed the weapon at the ground and pulled the trigger, making sure the barrel was empty. Her furrowed brows expressed her intent focus. This was her first time holding a gun, and only her fourth week in the program.

“It’s nerve-wracking, but I’m glad I get to learn a new skill,” Popovitch said.

Seth McNutt, a senior criminology and justice studies major and senior cadet, was helping cadets with the drill.

“We do prepare them well. She’s not familiar with weapons at all,” McNutt said. “She’s never been in a firing position, laying on the floor, or anything like that, but just today alone I’ve seen her develop a lot.”

The clinking and clattering pervaded the space as cadets engaged in weapons training. In various groups they learned safety techniques of operating a gun.

Basic Rifle Marksmanship, also known as BRM, teaches cadets the fundamentals of firing a weapon, such as proper holding, stability, firing positions, and proper and improper uses, said Christopher Olmstead, a senior aeronautics major and senior cadet.

The first room held 19 cadets who observed their instructor’s demonstration of checking the function of his M4A1. After his briefing cadets gave it a try for themselves.

Checking the function of the weapon is the first step, showing the importance of making sure your gun is properly working.

“Safety is always first. First thing we always think about is how to be safe, because these are dangerous if not used properly,” Jonah Kearns, a junior aeronautical major and junior Cadet, said. “They themselves are not dangerous, but if you’re just not staying aware of what you’re doing, you could have a misfire or something, so it teaches basic safety and teaches the user how to stay in control of the weapon.”

Cadets received experience on different functions of the weapon. Behind one of those doors, cadets were positioned on the ground, their guns aimed with a dime sitting on each barrel.

“One of the common problems of soldiers firing weapons is their trigger squeeze. Whenever you squeeze the trigger, if you don’t do it just right you can pull the barrel off of the target and you can miss,” McNutt said. “Having a dime on top ensures that you very carefully pull it back and that you minimize muzzle movement.”

It was important for cadets to learn how to aim and fire in different positions, something this exercise taught through three main positions that cadets practiced.

“Another important part of this that goes with the trigger squeeze is your breathing, so you always want to breath ideally at the bottom of your exhale,” McNutt said. “So you breathe in and out, and at the bottom of the exhale there’s a pause before you feel you need to inhale again, and that’s the most natural point at which you’re most stable.”

Some people come into the program with no prior knowledge of handling a weapon. BRM aimsto prep cadets by giving them training every semester, Olmstead said.

“This is something that every person in uniform has to know, no matter what their job is, because of the nature of it,” Kearns said. “Ultimately, this is a tool and every tool has to be used right.”

Mariah Hicks is the military and veterans reporter. Contact her at [email protected]