Blue skies, birds chirping and a cool breeze may be an ideal morning for most people, but add in the smell of gun powder and the crack of a hammer hitting a primer and sending rounds down range is what perks up most Marines.
On recruiting duty, Marines are exempt from attending the rifle range, but for Recruiting Station Milwaukee that does not mean poolees are not offered the opportunity to learn basic Marine Corps marksmanship and gain some familiarity firing the civilian version of the M-16A2 service rifle, the AR-15.
Nine of the 13 recruiting substations with RS Milwaukee each received half a day of marksmanship training, live fire, cover and concealment classes, M240B Medium machine gun familiarization, a partial Initial Strength Test and a Meal Ready to Eat lunch at Stone Bank Sportman’s Club between August 4-7.
“This was a great opportunity to face paint, check out the M240B, fire some live rounds and check out MREs,” said poolee Cody Peterson from Milwaukee.
Every poolee started their day with a weapons safety and handling class by certified marksmanship instructors from the club. This also included a breakdown of the stages of fire.
As groups of poolees were firing, those waiting to fire received classes by Marines on Marine Corps history, leadership traits, referral program and various other pieces of Marine Corps knowledge.
On the firing line each poolee was paired up with one of club marksmanship instructors or a Marine. They were given preparation time, during which they were taught breath control and trigger control.
When firing began, the poolees effectively sent rounds down range. Many poolees heeded the instructions given to them, resulting in tight groups on target. This knowledge and familiarity will further prepare these poolees when they ship to boot camp and begin their transformation from civilian to Marine.
“The most important part of recruit training is the marksmanship training,” said Sgt. Ty J. Appleton, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation North Milwaukee, “every Marine is a rifleman. By giving these poolees this edge, we are giving them a leg up on every other recruit coming from all over the country.”
As each group of poolees completed their live fire training, they moved on to another period of instruction, cover and concealment.
Sergeant Joshua Furlough, an armory custodian, and Cpl. Phillip Hammond, the assistant armory custodian, both with Fox Company, 24th Marines, and both either Iraq or Afghanistan veterans, gave poolees a class on camouflage paint and the M240B.
Following their instruction, poolees were allowed time to apply camouflage paint to their face and get some hands on experience with the M240B.
The final evolution of the day, next to lunch, was a partial Initial Strength Test. Poolees had to conduct a maximum set of pull-ups and crunches. During RSS North Milwaukee’s day at the range, two of their poolees completed 25 or more pull-ups.
Once the training was complete, poolees were able to relax with a MRE for lunch and reflect over the day’s activities.
“I love it,” exclaimed poolee Christopher Mensha of Milwaukee. “It was a great experience to get in touch with my fellow poolees, all those getting ready to go to boot camp, my recruiters and the other Marines.”
Although not every substation was able to participate at this particular range, the command did set up a similar range in the La Crosse and Wausau areas.
For those few Poolees who were not able to feel the kick of a weapon in their shoulder, the smell of gun powder in the air or hear the sound of rounds firing downrange, those sensations will become reality during recruit training and be solidified throughout their career once they earn the title of United States Marine.