For the love of shooting

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
If you were to ask Staff Sgt. Alan Daly to explain the role combat arms instructors play in the success of the 48th Fighter Wing mission, he would say that the base is a “forward, ready, now” base.

"That's what we do. We deploy," said the 48th Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor.

"We need to make sure everybody is safe and effective in the operation of the weapon systems, and that those weapon systems will not fail them downrange," Daly said. "That's our primary mission."

Daly has served as a combat arms instructor for more than a year. Teaching people how to effectively use firearms was a job he wanted from the beginning of his time in the Air Force.

"I'm pretty redneck," Daly joked. "I love shooting. I love fixing the guns. It's something I was always drawn to as a cop. I just knew I wanted to cross-train into it."

Teaching is not without its challenges, Daly explained.

"You will see every single kind of person when it comes to teaching a class," Daly said. "You have some that have a difficult time and some that already know everything, but it's bringing that broad scale in and kind of smoothing everything out that brings everything together."

He described the ways in which CA instructors work patiently with those who need extra help and how they feel a sense of accomplishment when an Airman who struggled to get qualified on a firearm is able to successfully hit the target.

"We understand that not everybody is going to get it the first time," Daly said. "We have had people come in multiple times for the remedial class because they just have a difficult time grasping what we are trying to teach. We switch out the instructors, we try and do everything we can to alleviate that, but seeing that light come on, finally, after the third time firing, is one of the best things you can see. As an instructor, them finally hitting the paper and then finally hitting the target -- it's like you accomplished everything even though they are the one working."

The team of CA instructors work hard to effectively teach groups of people with broad ranges of knowledge and from a wide variety of career fields.

"We want everyone to be prepared for exactly what they are going to face," Daly said.

Everyone who needs a qualification on a firearm, for their job or a deployment, is signed off by CA instructors on an Air Force form 522 after they have successfully qualified on the use the specified firearm.

"That little piece of paper, to me, honestly means nothing," Daly stated. "Your performance, your ability to utilize that weapon is what means everything to me. Your confidence in that weapon and your own ability is what's important. It's the fact that you know how to correct a problem in the weapon system and are able to keep firing to save you or your wingman's life someday."