Qualifying for the big guns Published Sept. 29, 2022 By Airman 1st Class Trenten Walters 81st Training Wing Public Affairs KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Airmen from the 81st Security Forces Squadron and 403rd Security Forces Squadron maintain readiness and solidify installation security by frequently conducting live fire training at Camp Shelby to qualify on heavy weapons systems. Defenders travel to Camp Shelby after attending a weapons system class to learn about heavy weapons, such as the M240B machine gun, M249 light machine gun and the M320A1 grenade launcher, before heading to the firing range. Defenders are taught in a crawl, walk, run teaching method to learn how to load and maintain the weapons, in addition to quickly fixing a jammed weapon, which they are tested on at the firing range with varying weather conditions and distances. “It's a whole different environment than in a classroom with air conditioning,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse Peterson, 81st SFS Combat Arms Training and Maintenance NCO in charge. “When you're firing and the gun jams, there's hot brass flying around you, you can't breathe because all the dust and carbon you're sucking in and you're sweating bullets, it makes correcting the problem that much harder.” The range is utilized to enhance the lethality of defenders by honing the necessary skills to detect, identify and engage targets in a tactical manner. “Going to Camp Shelby gives these defenders a realistic opportunity to experience what these firearms can do at distance,” said Tech. Sgt. Blake Johnson, 81st SFS assistant NCO in charge of training. “It's not just holes on a piece of paper 10 meters away. Defenders use techniques taught in class, such as Kentucky windage and what a beaten zone looks like. The targets are hundreds of meters away and being able to see the dust pop up creates realism.” Defenders use live firing to understand how their weapons will perform in external environments and adjust in a way that is second nature. By using these resources, the 81st SFS increases their readiness and generates a safer, more secure installation for the Keesler community.