BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --
The first on-base weapons safety class was held for Airmen here at the 117th Air Refueling Wing this past weekend.
Instructors from the base provided training on a broad range of topics but the most important was weapon safety.
The class is suited for people with varying degrees of experience handling weapons. Among the lessons taught were the different classifications of ammunition, cleaning and care of guns, clearing procedures and shooting technique.
Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Bell, a water fuel maintenance technician with the 117th Civil Engineering Squadron, completed approximately 30 hours of training to become a certified instructor.
"I want to help my fellow Airmen and teach them how to handle a rifle properly and safely," said Bell. “The three basic safety procedures we teach are to keep the rifle pointed in a safe direction, keep fingers off the trigger and keep the weapon unloaded until ready to use.”
For Bell, the appeal to instruct was founded on misinformation people receive.
"People can get exposure to weapon safety through movies or other ways that are not accurate,” he said. “I had a friend who was under the impression if he pressed his hand firmly against the muzzle, the gun could not fire a round. He tested the theory and shot his own hand.”
Part of the appeal of the class for Capt. David Odom, a Bio Environmental Engineer, was the chance to share a newly acquired interest of guns with others within the wing. He believes knowledge can be gained by people sharing their experiences.
"One of the things I learned was even if someone goes through the steps of clearing a shotgun and having it appear its cleared, it actually may not be," said Odom. “Rounds can get jammed in the magazine tube and capable of an accidental discharge even if it appears to be safe at first glance.”
Aside from the importance of safely handling firearms, the course is also a prerequisite for membership in the base rifle team which competes across the country. This past summer the team took part in a highly regarded competition at Camp Perry, located in northern Ohio. Instructors of the class hope they will be able to offer it a couple times a year in the future.