JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
“The line is ready!” booms over the loud speaker inside the shooting range. Shooters on the line focus on their targets. Everyone draws a breath and prepares to squeeze their triggers.
To the instructors, shots from the gunmetal gray M4 rifles ring out an explosive rhythm as bullet casings hit the ground, serenading the line instructors with an all brass orchestra. Just another day at combat arms.
Prior to firing, instructors and guests gathered outside for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the newly built Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility on base, Nov. 1, 2021.
The new facility features many upgrades from the previous building including a new 21-position firing range, a weapons and range equipment maintenance area and office and common spaces for the instructors.
“Having the latest equipment and facilities helps us train for the real fight,” said Col. Tyler Schaff, 316th Wing and installation commander. “Whether we’re in garrison or down range, we want our Airmen to be able to rely on that training, and this new facility will help with that.”
The new range supports most of the National Capital Region including all branches of service, Department of Defense civilians and outside agencies such as the Secret Service.
“With the upgrade from an 18 to a 21-position range, CATM is prepared to qualify 6,000+ people annually,” said Staff Sgt. Gabriel Alvarez, 316th Security Support Squadron combat arms instructor. “For us, the increase in firing positions and our new night-time capability is a game changer.”
Alvarez said the instructors can completely control lighting inside the range, which allows for live night-fire firing operations at any time of day. These changes along with other additions helps improve the quality of life for the CATM staff.
“My favorite thing about the new facility is the space we have as instructors now,” said Alvarez. “Before, we had six people to three computers, now we each have our own space and that really helps us get our work done.”
The extra work space assists CATM instructors in accomplishing their additional duties as well, which include special projects, weapons accountability and maintenance and planning future trainings.
“Looking towards the future, I think our new space is going to have a significant positive impact on the mission,” said Alvarez. “It is going to help us provide better training as instructors, and when the time comes that we have to put this training to use, it is going to show.”