JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA –
It’s easy to be distracted when multiple booms reverberate in the air. After pausing, those who live or work here continue on with their business, knowing the sound of multiple firearms echoing in the distance is no cause for alarm.
Every Airman is in the profession of arms regardless of job specification. Airmen fire weapons in preparation for deployments, permanent change of station moves or annual training. Airmen qualify under the careful supervision of CATM instructors. They engage targets at various distances and from different firing positions.
"CATM is required when Airmen deploy, are PCS'd within a 90-day window or, some units like (1st Combat Camera Squadron), have to fire for duty, so they train on a yearly basis,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Elder, 628th Security Forces Squadron CATM instructor. “Security forces have additional requirements, depending on the mission, for weapons such as: the M203 grenade launcher, M870 12-gauge shotgun and M249 and M240 machine guns.”
Elder said the 628th Security Forces Squadron CATM training curriculum is constructed so an individual who doesn’t usually handle weapons can become qualified by attending the class.
"In the classroom, we teach the fundamentals including how to break down and reassemble their weapons. Then, they usually are able to go out to the range and fire efficiently enough to qualify," Elder said. “Even though servicemembers have to learn to shoot and qualify to graduate from basic training, it is important for us to refresh their mental and muscle memory so they can shoot with confidence.”
Joint Base Charleston’s CATM instructors usually train over 3,000 members annually. This number includes servicemembers securing assets at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard.
"At the end of the day, we are all Airmen -- military members," said Senior Airman Nick Kanos, 437th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. "Just like I learned how to maintain flight equipment in good operational condition, going through CATM allows me to refresh my knowledge in marksmanship to protect myself and those around me.”
The all-day course starts at 7:30 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m.
Instructors are required to complete a two month technical training course and additional security forces training to be certified CATM instructors. During this training they learn the specific characteristics of each weapon.
“Sometimes people overlook combat arms training but it is essential for every servicemember deploying or handling weapons,” said Elder. “It is rewarding for us to know we ensure our deploying shooters are confident operating their weapons to keep themselves and their teammates safe.”
To receive CATM instruction, Airmen must get a date from their unit deployment manager.