Stay on Target
Baretta M9

I mentioned last week that I had to shoot some guns on the Air Force base during my trip to South Carolina. I wanted to share some information from the experience.

Baretta M9
Baretta M9

The first gun that we shot was the M9 Baretta M9 which is a semiautomatic pistol. It is the official weapon of choice for the United States Airforce. The airman that gave us the lesson was telling us the history of the weapon (which you can read on Wikipedia), why the Air Force uses it and the proper way to handle it before – during – and after shooting. He had us do some maneuvers while shooting like ducking, getting on knees, or shooting single-handed strong armed and weak armed. It was one heck of a workout! The target we were shooting was seven feet away and was shaped like a body. The Airman instructed us to shoot specific rounds center mass versus head.

Nikon Tilt Shift Lens With Guns
Nikon Tilt Shift Lens With Guns

Next we fired the M4 which is a semiautomatic with a three shot burst. The M4 carbine is the Air Force assault rifle of choice. The M4 has a 14.5 in barrel, allowing the individual soldier to better use in close quarters. The M4 has selective fire options including semi-automatic and three-round burst. The M4 is also capable of mounting an M203 grenade launcher. (no, I did not get to try that) Unfortunately I don’t have a great shot of the M4 because of time constraint but Jeremy was able to snap a photo of me shooting the rifle.

Me shooting the M4
Me shooting the M4

When shooting the M4, we shot targets 25 feet away. There were two different targets we used. The first was specifically designed to zero out the iron-sights to the shooter. The other target was tiny body figures in a M shape. The goal is to aim center mass at each body going in the M direction. Originally we were using the bi-pod with the rifle for easier aiming. Then the Airman decided to make things difficult for us and removed the bi-pods. Heavy guns, long distance, iron-sight. Not simple!

Then things became more difficult. Three-round burst with the bi-pod is much harder than it sounds. With three-round burst, the second and third bullet follows the first in a straight line. The Airman calls it trailing. I found that interesting. Speaking of interesting. Did you know that the figure-eight shape that you get when aiming a gun is caused from your heart beat? How cool is that?

Mitch Ready To Shoot
Mitch Ready To Shoot

Melissa’s other cousin Mitch also came down to Charleston, and doesn’t he look ready to shoot some guns?

Safety was a number one priority. We had to wear eye protection, ear plugins and added ear guards. When we finished a magazine, the Airman checked to make sure the gun was empty and we laid the gun on the ground. This was a once a in a lifetime opportunity that will last with me forever. The experience not only was fun and educational but it made me gain so much respect for the power of weapons and for the soldiers that have to use them.

The next photo is another captured from Jeremy (using my camera). This is the Airman showing me how the iron-sights need to be adjusted for my shooting style and eye.

Stay on Target
Stay on Target

Thanks for reading and happy shooting (cameras),


Gold Five: Stay on target.
Gold Leader: We’re too close!
Gold Five: Stay on target!
Gold Leader: Loosen up!

-Star Wars

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Wow, sounds like a heck of an experience! Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is an incredible story to share with my kids one day (when I have kids). Thanks for reading David!

  2. That’s an interesting experience. I dig the quote.

  3. I’ll definitely stick to shooting cameras only.. glad you had some fun though!

    1. Honestly, I’m not one for guns either. But the experience was worth it at least once. It sure is a way to gain respect for them.

  4. nice story – I was in the Air Force and shooting was one of the fun days we did regularly. Quite right that it teaches respect and the fact that you ALWAYS have the pointy end towards the range!

    1. The direction we hold the gun was the first thing he told us :-) Second was to make sure it wasn’t loaded when someone hands it to you.

  5. I was stationed on Shaw AFB in the mid 2000s. I qualified marksman with the M9 and M-16 on that same range you were on. Glad you had a good time.

    1. Adam,

      Thank you for serving our country!

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