Hi everyone! The summer training period here at the Academy is in its third week. Last week I had the opportunity to shoot pistol as part of our range week training, and I was also part of the commencement ceremony for the graduating seniors.
Range week was very interesting. Monday morning was spent in a classroom setting where we learned about the safety procedures for shooting at the range, and we also learned about the .40 Sig Sauer pistol. The Sig is the standard pistol used in the Coast Guard and it was very cool learning how to take it apart. In the afternoon, we were able to practice our aim at the pistol range with lasers that registered where our shots were landing on a computer that displayed the target. Tuesday was our first day of shooting. Many of my classmates had never shot before, but many others, including me, had shot pistols before. However, I found that my shooting experience didn’t really translate into higher scores. The minimum score to qualify as a marksman in pistol is a 114 out of 150, and I only got a 79. Some of my classmates qualified on the first day, but many returned on Wednesday. After some additional coaching, I felt much more comfortable shooting, and I ended up qualifying with a score of 118. That isn’t a really high score but I was happy to improve so much from the day before. There are three levels of qualification, marksman, sharpshooter, and expert (these range from the minimum qualification score to the maximum). I’m not sure exactly what the ranges are but sharpshooters and experts get to add a pin to their pistol qualification ribbon. Many of my classmates also qualified that day and by the end of the week, everyone qualified. The Academy range instructors pride themselves on a 100% qualification rate, so if you’re concerned about passing, have no fear! We have great teachers.
This blog only scratches the surface of my range experience but I really enjoyed it overall. I learned that experience does not necessarily translate into good technique, but with proper training and a little practice, it is possible to qualify quickly.
Commencement was a major event as well. I had the honor of being in the cordon, which is hard to explain to be honest. Our responsibility was to make an isle of bodies saluting as the official party arrived and departed. The official party was RADM Stosz, ADM Papp, and Secretary Johnson (the Secretary of Homeland Security). The commencement ceremony was great. There were speeches by the distinguished graduate (ENS Jocis), RADM Stosz, ADM Papp, Secretary Johnson, and CAPT McCauley. At the end of the ceremony, the new ensigns tossed of their cadet shoulder boards and covers, donning their new ensign covers and shoulder boards. Then, each of the new ensigns gave their first salutes. As part of Coast Guard tradition, the ensign gives a silver dollar to the first person they salute, so that was special to see. After commencement, the ensigns packed out of Chase Hall for the final time and they headed off to begin their careers as commissioned officers in the greatest sea going service in the world. It was a bittersweet day for those of us left behind, as we watched many of our friends, teammates, and mentors departing the Academy. I hope to serve with many of them in the future.
If you have any questions about any of the summer programs, admissions events, tours and visits here at the Academy, please email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu.
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