Combat Arms keeps Laughlin Airmen sharp on weapons skills

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anne McCready
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas--Down a seldom used road, where one is just as likely to run into an armadillo as you are another person, one will find a building with a red warning flag waving in front. 

Firearm experts from the 47th Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms section work tirelessly here, providing students—security forces brethren and members moving to certain duty stations or deploying—the very skills that may save lives downrange. 

Additionally, they are in charge of weapons inspections and maintenance. They also keep the base stocked with ammunition, as they track everything in their inventory meticulously.

The NCO in charge of Combat Arms, Tech. Sgt. Corey Freundner, understands his team’s mission is imperative to the defense of pilot training and of Laughlin.

“Here at Combat Arms, my team is directly responsible for training and preparing the wing’s combat-ready Airman,” Freundner said. “My team’s primary purpose is to give Airman the skills and tools they require in order to effectively use and employ their weapons in the event they ever need to.”

Senior Airman Lindsay Francher, 47th SFS Combat Arms instructor, grew up shooting guns and practicing weapons’ safety knowledge. Her passion now lies in teaching those skills to others--giving them the training they may need to survive in combat.

“My dad taught me how to handle weapons safely and be proficient with any weapon system I put my hands on,” Francher said. “He would always test me and make sure I was paying attention, and he would always ask me questions to get my brain thinking about how to handle a situation--especially about self-defense. He instilled in me an amazing foundation to set me up for success to pass it on to the next generation of shooters.”

Francher finds that often, people assume the only skill factor they need to master is accuracy. In reality, she says the thing that’s going to save someone's life down range is understanding  how their weapon system operates and functions. 

“If your weapon system goes down in the middle of a firefight, knowing how to use your sights isn’t going to help you get that weapon system back up and running to save your life,” Francher said. “You need to be proficient in all aspects: firing positions, operations, fundamentals and how to implement all these properly.”

Many of her students start the class and are nervous, uncomfortable with handling a weapon or are stressed because they are preparing to deploy. She is able to give them the instruction, experience and reassurance they need to become fully mission-ready. 

“I enjoy teaching them it can be fun, while still instilling good training, and customizing the training for each person's specific needs or struggles,” Francher said.

Laughlin’s Combat Arms team trained approximately 500 Airmen a year, guiding them to improve their marksmanship and build confidence in handling their weapons correctly.