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Soldiers Point and Shoot in Lithuania

A 28th Infantry Division platoon prepares for close-quarters combat on the reflexive fire range
“Ready! Up!” yells SGT Paul Savattieri (center), 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, during reflexive fire training in Rukla, Lithuania. The Soldiers are in Lithuania for Saber Strike, a U.S. Army Europe–led training exercise. Photo by SSG Doug Roles
“Ready! Up!” yells SGT Paul Savattieri (center), 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, during reflexive fire training in Rukla, Lithuania. The Soldiers are in Lithuania for Saber Strike, a U.S. Army Europe–led training exercise. Photo by SSG Doug Roles

HARRISBURG, PA In the Guard, every Soldier is a rifleman. 

From Basic Training forward, Citizen-Soldiers are taught that good scores on the qualification range are rooted in the fundamentals: good sight picture, breathing control and a steady trigger squeeze. There’s a lot more to it than point and shoot—unless the shooting is on a reflexive fire range.

A platoon from Troop A, 2/104th Cavalry (headquartered in Hazleton, PA), 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, is in Lithuania for the annual Saber Strike exercise. Prior to starting field training with their Lithuania counterparts this week, those 28th Infantry Division Soldiers spent a day at the range for individual and crew-served weapons familiarization. First up was firing by reflex.

“The reflexive fire range trains our Soldiers for close-quarters combat,” says Sergeant First Class Jeremiah Detweiler of Reading, PA, the platoon’s noncommissioned officer in charge for Saber Strike. “You’re pointing at something and firing. You’re literally pointing and shooting.”

“It’s another facet of shooting,” adds platoon leader First Lieutenant Matthew Gotzy of Allentown, PA.

The leaders say the Army developed the training from lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where squads of Soldiers often moved through buildings and around corners.

“In a toe-to-toe fight, Soldiers must be able to maneuver and quickly select targets and fire,” Detweiler says.

He says Soldiers can develop their natural hand and eye coordination through an exercise as simple as pointing a broomstick. On the range, he teaches his Soldiers to extend a finger of their nonfiring hand to further replicate the natural point-and-look motion.

As opposed to qualification ranges where Soldiers are stationary, shooters on the reflexive range advance on targets and fire from standing and kneeling positions, swapping out magazines frequently. The goal is to fire several rounds quickly and hit the target without aiming at a specific portion of the target.

Range safety noncommissioned officers move with shooters as they fire, keeping a hand on the shooter’s back and ensuring safe weapons handling. Shooters raise weapons and fire on the commands of the range NCO, who also moves downrange with the firing line. 

“Stay tactical,” Detweiler tells his Soldiers as they prepare for their turns on the firing line. “And have fun out there. That’s what this training is all about.”