Week 5 - Summary, M-9 Firing (Part 1 of 2)

Week 5 Summary

Week 5 was a busy week mostly because our class was divided by squadron.  There were a lot of events which were not large enough to support the entire class at once (such as M-9 firing) so the entire week each student squadron rotated from one event to the next.  I know the course director was still adjusting to the needs of having a large class so this may play out differently for future classes.

The most predicable of the entire week were the academic classes.  This was the final week of classes which led to the culmination of CWT 2 which was the following Monday.  Most of the class was divided doing their own event in the morning but we were back together for the afternoon.  One specific benefit I remember with this is getting coffee in the morning because we were in the flight room then closing out the day in the auditorium.

M-9 Firing

One of the other main events for the week was M-9 firing.  This will probably not be as new to the prior service but I remember the non-priors being quite nervous, especially those who had never handled a pistol before.  We fired the M-9 Beretta 9mm pistol which is the standard pistol in the Air Force inventory.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for those who are not familiar with it.  We "fired" the official Air Force course which meant if we qualified we could officially carry and be issued an M-9.  This doesn't have much practical use for most because the majority will not carry an M-9, and those who will carry one will have the opportunity to re-fire in tech school.  In a practical sense, firing the official course meant those who made expert could wear the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.

Detailed course information can be found in AFMAN 36-2227v1, Combat Arms Training Program Individual Use Weapons, starting at paragraph 2.9.  Here is the Air Force ePublishing link:  click here.

In general you are given 90 rounds and fire 45 for practice and 45 for qualification.  You fire three or six rounds in varying positions at 8, 15, and 25 meters, while also reloading at different times.  Here are the qualification standards from the above AFMAN.  I also put a picture of the target template below.  The actual target has either a chalk circle or a pencil circle drawn on it (chalk for practice, pencil for qualification).

2.11.2. Standards: Qualified: 35 hits on target (77.7%) Expert: 41 hits (91.1%) on target with at least 25 hits within the 10-inch (vital area) circle (81.3%) and 6 hits within the 6-inch (head) circle (46%). NOTE: A triple-number score is annotated when any score 41 or higher has been achieved (examples: “41/25/8”,“44/30/10”, etc.)  The first number is the amount of hits on the entire target, the second number is the total number of hits inside the 10-inch vital area and the third number is the total number of hits within the 6-inch head area of the target. A score of “41/20/3” would indicate a qualified score. 

Here is a picture of the target template from the above AFMAN.
Order of Events

The range is on base so we took a 10 minute bus ride to the range.  We showed up first thing in the morning and a Security Forces CATM instructor taught us the M-9 nomenclature and firing fundamentals, which took most of the morning.  It was very laid back in relation to OTS so enjoy it.  They also had a snack bar in the back so a lot of people enjoyed that too.  Be sure you pay attention and still remain respectful though.  Both will help you out.  Oh, and don't fall asleep.  Infractions for my class resulted in someone having to recite the Airman's Creed (at least it was without the yelling).

They divided us until three relays and we rotated through the course.  Those who weren't eating were either cleaning weapons or eating lunch.  My squadron got through the course fairly quickly.  Be sure you move to and from your target quickly because seconds add up with three relays.  Once we were all done we got back on a bus and went back to the OTS complex for the remainder of our scheduled day.  I think we got back to the complex around noon so it was a half-day event.

Tips for Success
  • Seriously, take your time.  There is technically a time limit but it is not enforced.  My first shot took literally five seconds due to the longer trigger pull for double action (they will explain that in your class).
  • To get expert you have to pay attention to the circles.  The catch is you can't see the pencil circle during the qualification round so use the practice round to memorize where the circle is in relation to the edges of the target.
  • Do some shooting prior to OTS if you can.  It seriously helped me (I got expert).  I fired a larger caliber handgun prior to OTS so the M-9 felt like a water pistol.
  • Qualifying on the M-9 isn't a graduation requirement so relax and have a good time.