MCBH KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii --
Marines train in many different ways to be ready for any contingency, but for some Marines getting out to a live-fire range isn’t always an easy task.
Another option in the Marine Corps training inventory is the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer. Without waiting on range quotas, support personnel, ammo and other components to a live-fire range, Marines can get down to training. This can be to enhance their shooting skills for their required annual rifle qualification, engage virtual enemy targets closing in on a Marine’s position, or to practice room clearing techniques. There’s multiple training scenarios for Marines.
“Marines should familiarize themselves with more weapon systems other than the M-16,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Hazard, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, S-3. “We wanted to teach the Marines proper employment and application of the weapon systems.”
Recently, Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, sponsored by the battalion’s training section, took two days from their regular job to fire various weapons systems on 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division’s ISMT.
“It’s just a big video game,” said Cpl. Brent Lee, training non commissioned officer, H&S Bn, MARFORPAC. “It’s great for sustaining marksmanship skills.”
The ISMT was opened here in 1997 and since then, thousands of Marines have used this ISMT. Also, Honolulu police officers and SWAT often use this facility.
Over the last 11 years, the system has been occasionally enhanced to keep up with technology. Recently, upgrades to the system which eliminated the need of connecting the weapons to the system with cumbersome cords, using Bluetooth technology and making them wireless. Pressurized air is forced into the modified magazines, up to 3,400 pounds per square inch, giving the shooter 80-90 shots before the magazine has to be recharged. This gives the weapon its kick when fired.
“It feels way more realistic than the old system,” said Cpl. Randall Holly, ISMT operator, 3rd Marines. “It’s great not to have to deal with the cables and shooters get a better feel for the weapon.”
The Marine Corps ordered approximately 1,200 Bluefire simulators in 2006 and 3rd Marines has been training with the technology for the last eight months.
Marines who’ve used their marksmanship skills in combat have since used this new technology.
“Nothing can get close to the real thing. But for training purposes, it’s awesome,” said Lee.
Since firing on the range is an annual training requirement for most Marines, practicing the fundamentals is essential, according to Lance Cpl. Jason Metrolis, training non commissioned officer, H&S Bn, MARFORPAC.
“Marines that don’t shoot all the time would benefit a great deal from the ISMT,” said Metrolis. “More Marines should sign up for events like this.”
Attendance was lower than expected, however those who did attend got more out of the training than expected.
“We fired more weapons than just the M-16,” said Lance Cpl. Donald Wigglesworth, administrative clerk, H&S Bn, MARFORPAC. “There may be a time when I’m standing next to a Marine who falls and I’ll need to pick up his weapon.”
Hazard said later this year the S-3 is sponsoring more training sessions. Marines will learn patrolling techniques, response to contact in a convoy and convoy operations.
“All Marines need to remain tactically proficient,” said Hazard. “You never know when you’ll need to use those basic skills.”