Nations competing in this year’s Fuerzas Commando exercise put their marksmanship skills to the test during a series of rifle, pistol and sniper evaluations June 17th through the 19th at ranges outside the Dominican Army’s 1st Infantry Brigade compound in Santo Domingo.
For the participants of this exercise, these events are just some of the many challenges to earn the right to be called the best Special Operations team in the western hemisphere.
During these evaluations, Special Operations teams are divided into two groups.
The rifle qualification consists of a series of shooting positions, which includes firing from the prone-supported position at a distance of 100 meters, sitting position from 75 meters, kneeling position from 50 meters , and a 25-meter standing shoot. These highly-trained marksmen have one minute to hit their targets and the team with the most hits wins the event.
As one group shot their rifles, other Fuerzas Comando competitors showed their skills during a pistol qualification. This event required shooters to move immediately to a sitting position and fire at 25-meter targets. Next, the marksmen moved up to the 20-meter line and fired their pistols from the kneeling position.
During the next phase of shooting events, Special Operations teams put their speed and accuracy to the test with both the pistol and rifle weapons systems during the critcal task evaluation exercise. During this event, soldiers navigate their firing lanes and engage multiple targets from various distances.
In order to make the event stressful and simulate real life situations, obstacles identified as noncombantants are placed in the vicinity of the shooter’s target. Soldiers start in the standing position with their rifle and transition to the pistol as the event advances.
For many of the competitors this event proved to be tough.
“Most people think its easy if they shoot one weapon, but transitioning from one to the other really makes you think,” said a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Special Operations team.
The final stage of the three-day shooting event is called the snaps and movers exercise. During this part of the competition sniper teams must successfully engage each target in a given amount of time. Teams have three to five seconds to fire their weapons at the “snap” or pop-up target from distances ranging from 200, 300 and 400 meters. After being evaluated on the snap targets, soldiers were assessed on their ability to hit moving targets.
With competitors working to earn themselves a spot in the top position, meeting the standards proved to be the challenging part of the overall event.
“What gives this competition an edge is that many of these situations can actually happen,” said a member of the Trinidad and Tobago team. “These events make you think about how you would handle a real-life situation”
The Special Operations teams will have little time to rest as they prepare for both the aquatic and forced march events as the Fuerzas Comando exercise continues through June 24.