Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Army boasts of its skilled shooters

In this file photo taken in October 2006, the Army shooting team won several gold medals and trophies in the ASEAN shootfest held in Vietnam. Sgt Rodney Rizano was the best rifle shooter and Sgt Jennifer de Belen was adjudged as the best female pistol shooter (four consecutive years).

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – In reaction to persistent media queries about the soldiers' shooting ability, the Philippine Army declares that the 85,000-strong organization has a long list of able and highly-skilled shooters .

Major Harold M Cabunoc, Army Spokesperson, said that the Army soldiers are far from being “bolomen” a military lingo referring to those who cannot shoot straight and miss the intended target.

(ARMY TRIVIA) WHO IS A BOLOMAN? Soldiers who fail the Army's marksmanship qualification standards are popularly known as 'bolomen'. Jokes that are circulating in the Army tell the story about a field commander who ordered the 'bolomen' to carry bolos instead of rifles during their combat operations. Since then, soldiers took their marksmanship training very seriously. 

“The Philippine Army is home to the best shooters who have distinguished themselves not only in local competitions, but in international competitions as well. Our shooting team is the Army's source of national pride,” said Cabunoc.

For the past decade, the Army shooters have consistently landed in the Top 3 of the annual ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet (AARM) which is  participated in by 10 competing countries. Likewise, they consistently grabbed several gold medals in other international shooting competitions hosted by foreign countries like China and Australia.

“Sergeant Rodney Rizano and Sergeant Allan Lao have landed in the Top 1 and 2 spots among 100 soldiers fielded by the ASEAN Armies in the AARM shootfest held in Indonesia last October 2011. The Army Shooting Team counts in its ranks some top-caliber shooters who have made their mark in various international competitions,” said Cabunoc who is both a marksmanship instructor and a competitive shooter.

Sergeant Rodney Rizano (left) and his buddy, Sgt Alan Lao dominated the rifle events of the regional shooting competition held in Indonesia in October 2011. 

Cabunoc also said that the Army is continuously improving its marksmanship training programs which is carried out by the Marksmanship Training Unit.

He cited that the 'train the leaders' training methodology has been proven effective in developing more competitive marksmanship instructors who in turn, implement the marksmanship skills training program in their respective units.

"We are enhancing the shooting skills of our soldiers by conducting scenario-based shooting applications training in the field. This is in compliance to the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law and the IPSP Bayanihan ROE (rules of engagement) wherein the soldiers are supposed to shoot only legitimate targets and avoid the use of excessive force," said Cabunoc.

Army soldiers undergo some reality-based marksmanship training programs like the close quarter combat training. 

Army policy

The challenge is how to sustain the marksmanship skills program after the basic training that the soldiers have undergone, considering that marksmanship skill is a 'perishable skill'.

To address this concern, the Army is implementing the annual marksmanship training for all soldiers. To ensure that the program will be sustained, the Army is evaluating policies that will be institutionalized.

"There are proposals that the soldiers are required to pass the Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Course before being reenlisted in the military service. This means that they must qualify as a 'marksman' before they can be allowed to renew their contract which lasts 3 years," Cabunoc explained.

For Army officers, Cabunoc said, "They are required to undergo the Combat Pistol Qualification Course as part of the pre-entry training and their future sustainment training".  

Shooting generals

Cabunoc also said that the soldiers’ marksmanship skills are further enhanced by joining various shooting competitions.

He mentioned that even senior officers of the Army led by Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista have actively participated in shooting competitions.

"I am proud of our shooting generals in the Army because their presence alone brings chills to the spine among the other competitors. Included in our elite list of  distinguished shooters are 

 General Jessie Dellosa, General Roland Detabali, General Jorge Segovia, General Rommel Gomez and General Noel Coballes," Cabunoc narrated.

Recently, the Army Shooting Team dominated the  Game of the Generals which was hosted by the DND in December last year.

"A top-notch Army shooter, Brigadier General Rainer Cruz, bagged the championship trophy as the 'Top Gun' in that competition. Our team also snatched another trophy for besting the other teams in the team 'falling plates' competition," said Cabunoc.

“Truth to tell, the Army shooters have distinguished themselves in various local and international competitions making them among  the best in the ASEAN region. Without a doubt, the Army is indeed an organization that hones and generates the best shooters,” Cabunoc concluded.

ARMY SHOOTING GENERALS pose for a photo after winning the pistol falling plates match of the Games of the Generals held on December 17, 2011.

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