JOINT BASE CAPE COD, Mass. – Soldiers from various units all over Massachusetts gathered at Camp Edwards here Friday to attend the annual Unit Marksmanship Coordinator Conference and learn how one state unit can assist in all aspects of weapon qualifications.
“Marksmanship is the one skill that transcends all (Military Occupational Specialties),” said Maj. Jeffrey Holloway, during his opening remarks at the conference. “It’s more than just getting to the range one time per year. Marksmanship is the foundation of Soldiering skills.”
The annual gathering is an opportunity for Unit Marksmanship Coordinators to share information, such as best practices and techniques. The event also allowed the state’s Small Arms Readiness and Training Section, which hosted the event, to ensure that unit coordinators have full knowledge of marksmanship standards and training opportunities.
“As the Unit Marksmanship Coordinator, you need to be the subject matter expert,” Holloway said. “After today, you’ll know all about the resources available to you, and you can bring that back to your unit.”
Sgt. Nicholas Noftle, with the SARTS, used the conference as an opportunity to address the marksmanship issues he’s seen in the Massachusetts National Guard. Properly zeroing a weapon, he said, is a major issue.
“If there is one problem all units have,” Noftle said, “it’s zeroing. We need to make sure our Soldiers are accurately zeroing their rifles when they are at the ranges. Patience, guidance, and mentorship are keys to making that happen. If the weapon isn’t zeroed, that Soldier doesn’t have a prayer when they get to the pop-up targets to qualify.
“This is important,” Noftle said, “because your number one job as a Soldier is to be able to engage the enemy.”
“It’s great that we have resources such as this,” said Staff Sgt. James Vassallo, of Company B, 16th Brigade Support Battalion. “This is a skill we need on the battlefield. It deserves all the attention we can give it.”
Sgt. David Deprizito was recently named Unit Marksmanship Coordinator for his unit, the 180th Engineer Detachment (Firefighting). He said the conference was particularly useful and he intends to bring much of this information back to his unit.
“A learned a lot being here,” he said. “It’s great that they let us know about possible training opportunities, how to make the most of our resources, and – most importantly – how this can help the unit. Now we just have to get out to the field and put rounds down range.”