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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hoang Nguyen, New Hampshire Air National Guard Student flight trainee, fires an M-4 rifle in the Firearms Training Simulator at the New Hampshire Army National Guard’s Training Site, Center Strafford, N.H., Feb. 4, 2017.  The weapons familiarization prepares Airmen for basic training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hoang Nguyen, New Hampshire Air National Guard Student flight trainee, fires an M-4 rifle in the Firearms Training Simulator at the New Hampshire Army National Guard’s Training Site, Center Strafford, N.H., Feb. 4, 2017. The weapons familiarization prepares Airmen for basic training. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz)

Center Strafford, N.H. --

Airmen from the 157th Air Refueling Wing’s Student Flight traveled recently to the New Hampshire Army National Guard’s Training Site at Center Strafford, to participate in weapons familiarization and qualification.

 “This is good for me because I’ve never handled a gun like this,” said Airman 1st Class Emma Danielson, who enlisted in the 157 ARW in March 2016. “It will give me a good jump start when I get to basic.”

Airmen from Student Flight have received this type of instruction using the Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) system which simulates conditions on a traditional range. Approximately 30 trainees received instruction on the M-9 pistol and the M-4 rifle.

Danielson added, “Overall, zeroing in and working on getting our six hits was really helpful.”

This type of instruction helps prepare the trainees for seven weeks of basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)-Lackland, Texas. Some trainees at JBSA-Lackland  have the chance to qualify for the U.S. Air Force Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon for superior performance on the rifle range.

 Student Flight cadre are trying to make the program more realistic and relevant to students.

“Our goal is to make the program more value added so they are prepared for basic military training ”, said Master Sgt. Ron Letch, NCO In charge of Student Flight. “We are trying to add in evolutions that are worthwhile and enjoyable to the student.”

Student Flight trains non-prior service enlistees and those Airman who have returned from  basic training. Airmen in Student Flight receive various forms of instruction including customs and courtesies, marching, and physical training which prepares them for the rigors of basic training.

According to U.S. Army Master Sgt. Robert B. Rogers IV, New Hampshire Army National Guard operations sergeant at the training site and a 23 year veteran of the U.S. Army, the simulator serves several functions:

“Developing proper weapons handling in a safe environment so if a mistake does occur there isn’t a 911 call,” said Rogers. “Creating muscle memory that shortens target identification, acquisition and engagement times” was also an important aspect of the training.

Rogers added that the simulator also provides, “Exercising decision making, where we gave shoot-no shoot scenarios on the system.”

A bonus of the simulator is its substantial savings to the taxpayer.

It’s “significantly less expensive than live fire and it is not effected by weather,” said Rogers.
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