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CATM prepares for new AFQC

Members of the 141st Security Forces Squadron train with the new M-68 close combat optic at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

Members of the 141st Security Forces Squadron train with the new M-68 close combat optic at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

The M-68 close combat optic mounted on a M-4 rifle at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

The M-68 close combat optic mounted on a M-4 rifle at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

The new “Green Ernie” target which will be used in the new weapons qualification training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

The new “Green Ernie” target which will be used in the new weapons qualification training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

Staff Sgt. Lonnie Bell II instructs Master Sgt. Joseph Fields, both from the 141st Security Forces Squadron, during weapons qualification training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

Staff Sgt. Lonnie Bell II instructs Master Sgt. Joseph Fields, both from the 141st Security Forces Squadron, during weapons qualification training at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. on March 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mindy Gagne)

Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. -- Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructors from the 141st Air Refueling Wing are preparing to implement the new Air Force Qualification Course in August.

Staff Sgt. Jacob J. Young, an instructor with the 141st CATM, recently returned from a train-the-trainer course held in Reno, Nevada that familiarized him with the new course of fire.

Young explained, that beginning in August, airmen who are scheduled for training will encounter a challenging 11-hour course that will include classroom instruction, performance evaluations, and live fire.

Basic skills will include loading and clearing, assembly and disassembly, basic rifle marksmanship, and preventative maintenance, explained Young. Advanced weapon skills will also be included which will evaluate immediate and remedial action drills using dummy rounds during live fire, tactical movements with a loaded weapon, and multiple target engagement.

"The field of warfare has changed," said Young. "We do not have the luxury of taking long shots."

The new course will be more realistic and will result in airmen more ready to respond to a threat, said Young.

Airmen who are scheduled to attend the new AFQC will now engage 10 and 6 inch targets at 7, 15, and 25 meters. The shooter will be required to engage the target identified by the instructor and clear dummy rounds loaded by another student.

In addition to changes in the AFQC, the M-16 will soon be replaced with the M-4 and the M-68 close combat optic.

There will be difficulties in the transition, said Young. When the instructor calls out a specific target to engage and the student engages the wrong one it is an automatic failure.

Young also anticipates initial struggles maintaining the rifle at the low-ready position for minutes at a time due to muscle fatigue.

CATM instructors, however, are dedicated to their students and will make every effort to assist in passing the course.

"During a remedial session, one particular student was so nervous about shooting the M-16 that her hands were shaking even as she spoke with me," Young said. "In an effort to get her to relax, I asked her a series of questions - After a stressful day of work, what is it you do to unwind? Who is the most special person in your life? What is the most relaxing thing you enjoy doing? She answered each question, and I told her to think about those things as she was shooting. The key was for her to think about what soothes her and allow those things to calm her down as she takes each shot. We continued with the course of fire, and she did great. She qualified and was able to deploy."