Cadets take part in historical weapons shoot

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Nathan Watanabe, a history professor at the Air Force Academy, shows an M1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifle to a class of Academy cadets April 19, 2015, at Fort Carson. The cadets took part in an Academy Historical Weapons Shoot and handled and fired 27 historic military firearms, including the 1766 Charleville Musket, the 5.56mm M16A4 Rifle and the M4 Carbine, to better understand the small arms used by the U.S. military throughout its history. (Lt. Col. Don Langley)

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Nathan Watanabe, a history professor at the Air Force Academy, shows an M1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifle to a class of Academy cadets April 19, 2015, at Fort Carson, Colo. The cadets took part in an Academy Historical Weapons Shoot and handled and fired 27 historic military firearms, including the 1766 Charleville Musket, the 5.56mm M16A4 Rifle and the M4 Carbine, to better understand the small arms used by the U.S. military throughout its history. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Don Langley)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Bursts of rifle and musket fire were heard at Fort Carson's privately-owned weapons range April 18 when dozens of Air Force Academy cadets and faculty took part in the Academy's latest Historical Weapons Shoot.

Cadets handled and fired 27 historic military arms, ranging from the 1766 Charleville musket, the M16A4 Rifle and the M4 carbine, to better understand small arms used by the U.S. military.

The event cadre wore period uniforms and explained the uniform and equipment used by U.S. servicemen throughout military history.

Cadets fired more than 4,000 rounds, said Lt. Col. Nathan Watanabe, an assistant military history professor at the Academy and the officer in-charge of the shoot.

"The smell of damp wool mixed with gunpowder added to the historical experience," he said. "Many shooters got to try on various pieces of (gear), increasing their understanding of soldiering through the ages. The shooters smell the powder, feel the recoil and hear the report of the weapons, but they also experience the challenge of loading and firing these weapons of history in all sorts of conditions." 

Watanabe said a highlight of the event was a drill demonstrating the rates of fire of the Flintlock musket, the bolt-action rifle, the semi-automatic Garand rifle and the modern magazine-fed carbine. Of particular interest was the gear worn and carried by in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.

"While fun and exciting, such hands-on experience is invaluable to increasing our future leaders' understanding of their military heritage and their profession, emphasizing the theme of the History Department, 'To Teach History for the Profession of Arms,"' Watanabe said.

The event included a presentation by Fort Carson's 10th Mountain Division Living History Display Group on the formation and history of the 10th Mountain Division here in Colorado in 1942.

The shoot was sponsored by the Academy's History Department.