For hours, the Soldiers instructed and supervised the Cadets as they practiced before firing the rifle qualification course. While there were many who had shot in the past, there were others who had never held a firearm before.
“Safety first, it’s my biggest concern,” said Ellen Hanson.
Hanson’s triplets, age 11, all fired together. She stood in the back of the range and watched as they shot.
“To hear [the Soldiers] remind [the Cadets] and see the kids understand and get it … and listen and pay attention,” said Hanson, “[A gun is] dangerous and you have to take all the precautions.”
Her daughter, Heather never fired a rifle before; she outshot her two brothers.
“[The SARTS team] showed me what to do. I did pretty well,” said Heather Hanson. “They told me never to point a gun at someone and to put the safety on when you aren’t shooting. [Guns] are very dangerous and they could hurt someone.”
While teaching firearms safety and marksmanship is the miss ion of these Soldiers. They also taught something else, confidence.
“You build confidence,” said Sgt. Jasen Gonzalez, 101st Finance Detachment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, who was assisting the SARTS team. “That black circle is not just a target to them. That’s them doing something amazing … that’s an achievement. For [Soldiers], we go to the range because we have to; it’s part of our job. For them that a huge achievement … to be able to go say ‘hey, I hit the bull’s-eye’. They’re all going to go home and show their parents.”
At the end of the day all the Cadets had qualified.