The Bayonet

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Marksmanship unit develops skilled weapons, shooters

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Since 1956, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit has upheld its mission to create quality weapons and train Soldiers to become experts at using those weapons in competitive and combat environments, said Lt. Col. Don King, the AMU commander.

King said the unit’s unique skill and precision is seen on national and international levels through competing in the summer Olympics and hosting its own annual marksmanship competitions.

“(Through these competitions), we are able to send out a strategic message to the Army and to our nation to better connect them to who we are what we do,” he said. “In support of our Soldier athlete, we modify and adjust weapons so that they can succeed in competitions.”

King said the competitions are also used to provide better weapons for the Army. AMU researches and designs its own small arms and ammunition. A team of gunsmiths, machinists, range technicians and ammunition loaders develop rifles, pistols and sniper systems at the Custom Firearms Shop.

“What we develop usually finds its way through the Army system,” King said. “The small arms rifles and sniper rifles you see today are developed from the marksmanship unit throughout the years.”

As weapons advance, Soldiers advance through squad designation marksmanship and close quarter combat courses taught at Fort Benning.

The unit also supports the Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, S.C., and units overseas to reach Army marksman standards.

“You have to be able to help someone shoot the weapons systems to be effective,” King said. “What a great location for us to be here at Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence to support Infantry, Armor and Cavalry Soldiers.”

Teamwork is a crucial part of the AMU, said Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Ward. Assigned to the unit for 17 years, Ward said his experiences have made him a better Soldier and allowed him to pass his skills to others.

“There is a sense of satisfaction we get through our mission accomplishment, whether it’s being successful as individuals or teammates on the firing line or teaching other Soldiers and other people this special skill set that we have,” he said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of pride to help another Soldier become better at his job.”

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