MTSU ROTC cadets have more opportunity to sharpen their shooting and tactical skills following an upgrade unveiled recently at the military science program’s indoor rifle range simulator.
The university provided funding for an additional five-lane, $116,000 trainer unit, bringing to 10 the number of lanes available at the Engagement Skills Trainer.
At a March 8 open house, university leaders could view and shoot at the range, which is located in the ROTC Annex on campus.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joel Miller, professor of military science and department chair, said the open house was simply a way for his department to thank university officials for supporting the program. The U.S. Army funded the initial five-lane trainer unit.
“This was a joint effort between the Army and the university to provide us with a complete 10-lane system,” said Miller, who joined other officers to instruct cadets during the open-house target practice demonstration.
The simulator uses computers, lasers, projectors and pneumatic weapons to provide a realistic experience of firing a weapon, including recoil and sound. The sound is lowered enough, however, so that cadets don’t have to wear the ear protection required at a live range.
Senior ROTC Cadet Jenine Fajardo, 21, of Thompson’s Station, Tenn., said the simulator is an effective, efficient way for cadets to practice without the expense that comes from using real ammunition at a live firing range.
“I think the simulator helps us before we get to the live range,” Fajardo said. “It helps us before we have to get out there and qualify to be an officer. … It’s a very realistic scenario.”
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jonathan Bright, a senior military instructor, said the simulator prepares the cadets on the fundamentals of using and firing the M4 assault rifle.
“Everything feels exactly like the (real) rifle,” Bright said. “The trigger squeeze, everything that you would do on an actual range is set up in this, except it’s with computers and lasers.”
Greg Schmidt, an associate professor in psychology, was among the faculty and university administrators who attended the event and tried out the simulator. He was impressed.
“It’s training without the expense,” said Schmidt. “You can see the benefit of it.”
The professor noted that it was the first time he’d fired a gun “in years,” adding that doing so gave him greater appreciation for what the cadets go through in trying to become commissioned officers.
“It was tiring,” he said.
— Jimmy Hart (email@example.com)