News: 1-94 armorers shoot for top honors
Story by Spc. Nathan Goodall
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Armorers with 1st Battalion (HIMARS), 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, competed in the first battalion arms room competition Feb. 28.
Each unit in the battalion was represented by a team comprised of a primary and alternate armorer. The team named the best in the battalion will earn their unit the victor’s streamer to be on its guidon.
But the real reward was the personal development earned by participants, said the competition overseer, 1st Lt. Krista Searle, a Chesterfield, Va., native and an intelligence officer with 1-94 FA.
The competition helped develop the armorers’ individual skills and boosted camaraderie between them which, in turn, creates a team of teams that is more mission capable, Searle said.
“It makes them a little more enthusiastic in learning the systems and getting more proficient in their duties,” Searle said.
Sgt. Aaron Pierce, an Essex Junction, Vt., native, and the primary armorer with 125th Forward Support Company, 1-94 FA, agreed the contest was an effective way to motivate and develop armorers to be the best they can.
“Competition always causes people to strive to be better,” Pierce said. “You’re going to try to be better at your job in order to beat the next guy.”
Competitors earned points through three events. The first was an arms room inspection, conducted by an evaluator that would check everything from proper paperwork procedures to the actual physical security of weapons and sensitive items in the armory.
That was followed by a timed weapons assemble and reassemble with a .50-caliber machine gun, M240B machine gun and M16 rifle, with the most points going to the fastest team.
The last portion of the competition was a written test with questions based on the battalion arms room standard operating procedures.
According to Spc. Timothy Blanchard, a Pensacola, Fla., native and the alternate armorer with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-94 FA, the competition “makes you know your job.”
“It’s almost like going to a [promotion] board, you’ve got to study for it,” Blanchard said. “As an alternate, I now know things I didn’t know before, so it really does help work up your skills and build confidence.”
Building up those skills and instilling more confidence were only a few of the benefits of the competition. The team development inspired by the challenge could help arms room efficiency overall, Searle said.
“Really nothing gets accomplished if you don’t work together as a team,” Searle said. “If the alternate [armorer] doesn’t know what the primary is doing, then it becomes an issue and you can’t find things in the arms room. Knowing how to communicate with each other, which is a big part of leadership, I would say that’s part of it.”
Pierce also mentioned how pitting armorers from different units against each other helped build camaraderie that would benefit the entire battalion.
“We’re all comrades, we’re all working together on the same team, ultimately. “Whoever wins this might be a good person to go see for additional guidance and tips and tricks on how to be better at it for next time,” Pierce said.
While the armorers won’t know who won until March 8, they’ve already recognized how beneficial the competition was, Pierce said.
“Anything you learn to make your job better, faster and easier is just going to increase productivity,” he said.
This may have been the first arms room competition for the battalion, but it won’t be the last. Searle plans on hosting one every quarter.
“It’s the start of a new tradition,” she said.