Story by Nicole Kirschmann on 08/19/2019ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. The Joint Munitions Command's quality directorate manages ammunition quality and reliability to ensure it is safe to use. As part of this important responsibility, the quality engineers need to understand the relationship between ammunition and the arms that fire that ammunition.
For engineers new to quality engineering, experience with and knowledge of firearms is very helpful in their careers. "Training gives them a better idea of what Soldiers in the field experience on a firing range, and more importantly, some basic knowledge of ammunition and small arms with which to help diagnose ammunition malfunctions they may encounter in their careers," said Dan Saito, JMC General Engineer in the quality directorate.
Opportunities for the new engineers to learn about ammunition has been limited to reading technical manuals, attending the testing they oversee under the umbrella of the Ammunition Stockpile Reliability Program (ASRP), and on rare occasions, observing testing of ammunition lots involved in malfunctions.
"JMC's quality directorate has been fortunate enough to be able to hire some exceptional young, enthusiastic engineers fresh out of college in the past couple years. These young engineers have made a name for themselves throughout the JMC headquarters," said Dan Brown, JMC Quality Director.
"As leaders in the quality department, we strongly felt that the limited amount of weapons and ammunition training we receive was inadequate to properly perform the job, so we took the initiative to get these new engineers hands-on training and experience with real weapons and ammunition," said Brad Maas, JMC General Engineer in the quality directorate.
This summer, four engineers who recently began their careers at JMC, Sudan Abdur-Rahman, Quang Nguyen, Riley Welu, and Murphey Zhang, received four hours of classroom training on small arms and small-caliber ammunition. They were introduced to the basics of small-caliber ammunition, learned how the ammunition functions, and how the ammunition interfaces with the weapons.
The Combat Capabilities Development Command-Rock Island provided cutaway weapon models of the M16A2 rifle and the M4A1 carbine so that the engineers could see the interaction of the internal weapon parts throughout the 8-step cycle of weapon functioning. The models gave the engineers the opportunity to learn how to load a magazine with inert dummy cartridges, how to load the magazine in the weapons and how to properly handle the weapons. Included in the training was basic firearm safety to prepare the engineers for the live-fire training they received the following morning.
The next day, the team met at a local firing range. After the essential range safety briefing, the engineers were introduced to the .22 rimfire revolver and semi-automatic pistol. The .22 has minimal recoil and muzzle report, which allowed the students to concentrate on their marksmanship fundamentals to build confidence hitting the target at seven yards and 10 yards.
When comfortable, the students were able to graduate to more powerful handguns like a .38 Special revolver, 9mm pistol, and .357 magnum. This exposure to the different handguns and cartridges of different intensity reinforced the diversity of weapons and performance of small-caliber ammunition, and well as the physics behind the performance of specific weapons and calibers.
After time on the pistol range, the engineers progressed to the rifle range. There they were introduced to the civilian version of the M16/M4, the 5.56mm AR-15; one iron-sighted version of the M16A2 and a carbine with the civilian version of the Army's Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG); and a civilian version of the Army's 7.62mm M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the AR-10.
Also available to shoot were a .22 rimfire bolt action rifle, a Soviet 7.62x54R rifle, a Winchester .30-30 lever action, and a 12-gauge pump shotgun similar to the Army's M500/M590 tactical shotgun. The engineers were able to engage targets at 50, 75, 100 and 200 yards while learning hands-on about the physics of bullet caliber, firearm weight and recoil.
"The young engineers came away with a greater appreciation of the system's perspective of the ammunition and weapon interface, and some bruised shoulders," Saito said.
"The training was very useful and eye-opening for me, since I got to see how each part of the gun works," said Nguyen, JMC General Engineer.
"These engineers already had great technical knowledge, and the hands-on experience they got handling and firing various weapons will really help translate their technical knowledge to tactical applications," Brown said.