Civil Air Patrol Firearms Training
The Hernando County Composite Squadron actively participates in training designed to teach cadets real-world skills and build personal discipline to help them become the future leaders of the United States. Firearms training is part of the core curriculum used by the squadron.
The article will help explain what the firearms training is and what cadets can expect in the program. Our activities calendar will indicate upcoming training events. Details and sign-up sheets are generally provided in the weekly meetings.
What Is CAP Firearms Training?
Firearms training conducted by the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) follows the National Rifle Association training curriculum. It includes both classroom and range sessions where the cadets will learn:
- rules of gun safety
- proper handling techniques
- how guns operate
- how to render a firearm safe
- fundamentals of marksmanship
- range etiquette and responsibilities
At the successful conclusion of the training, a cadet will have a basic building block for responsible gun-handling skills. It is the responsibility of the cadet and the cadet's parents to maintain and improve those skills.
Is the Training Safe?
The firearms training provided by the Civil Air Patrol is governed by organization regulations and taught by certified instructors.
CAP classifies shooting activities as High Adventure Activities. These are events that are given the highest level of scrutiny and require review by multiple levels of command to ensure that best safety practices are used. A written plan, also known as a Operations Order, is developed to govern the event. The Ops Order establishes the chain of command for the event, safety procedures that will be implemented and more.
The Ops Order for a recent firearms training activity can be seen here.
Civil Air Patrol members involved in the event are given special training to ensure that everyone is clear on the procedures. A ratio of no less than one senior member for every two cadets is maintained for all firearms training events.
Training is conducted by adult instructors certified by the National Rifle Association. These instructors have each completed rigorous instructor training provided by the NRA to obtain their credentials.
Currently, the Hernando County Composite Squadron works with the Hernando Sportsman's Club. The club generously provides instructors who train our cadets. The club also works with other youth organizations including 4-H.
Prior to conducting any live-fire training, cadets are provided with comprehensive classroom instruction and dry-fire training. Only cadets who demonstrate competence in these areas will advance to live fire training on the range.
Parents are always invited to observe the cadet programs. Any parent wanting to assist at these events should join the Civil Air Patrol as a Cadet Sponsor Member. This is a membership category that ensures parents are able to help while ensuring that the Cadet Protection Program safety protocols are followed. You would not need to wear a uniform, hold a rank or participate in any of the squadron's other activities. Be sure to talk to the squadron's recruiting officer, 2d Lt. Kelly Fitzgerald, for additional information.
Why Train with Guns?
The Civil Air Patrol recognizes firearms training as a valuable tool for cadets. Private ownership of firearms is common in the United States, and understanding how to handle them safely is an essential life skill. This training program emphasizes how to handle guns safely and is a good step toward becoming a responsible citizen.
Likewise, many cadets pursue careers in the military, law enforcement and the outdoors. All of these professions require firearms proficiencies beyond that of basic safe handling techniques. The marksmanship taught in the classes at the Hernando County Composite Squadron is a building block that can be used to help them advance more quickly in these careers.
Even for cadets who have no interest in professional or recreational use of firearms, the training program is still good for building the characteristics of personal discipline, concentration and responsibility. Firearms, when misused, can be dangerous. Under the watchful eye of certified instructors and experienced volunteers, cadets learn these valuable skills that can take them far in any pursuit as an adult.
What Firearms Are Used in the Training
We use bolt-action training rifles chambered for the .22 LR cartridge. The rifles are the property of the Hernando Sportsman's Club who generously allows us to use them free of charge. Additionally, the club donates the ammunition used.
Per CAP regulations, the squadron does not own or store any firearm or ammunition.
When Is the Training
While our training schedule is flexible, we generally try to conduct firearms training twice a year: once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Be sure to check our calendar and keep an ear open for announcements during squadron meetings.
Where Is the Training
Currently, we conduct all firearms activities at the Hernando Sportsman's Club located within the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area west of U.S. Hwy 19. The physical address is:
- 16121 Commercial Way (US Hwy 19), Brooksville, FL 34614
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the firearms training program.
Do cadets earn any awards for training completion?
Yes. Cadets can earn the NRA Marksmanship Badge for their Class A and Class B (Air Force "blues") uniforms if they complete the training and achieve a minimum score on the live fire portion of the class. A higher score may qualify cadets for a more prestigious badge recognizing their accomplishments.
Are there any costs to cadets to participate in the training?
Currently, there are not. Due to the generous donation of instructors, rifles, targets and facilities by the Hernando Sportsman's Club, the training is free of charge. Be sure to thank them when you see them! All ammunition is donated by the senior members of the squadron.
Do CAP members carry firearms on missions?
No. Although the Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, we are not a military organization. Members are specifically prohibited from carrying firearms as part of their CAP duties, with limited exceptions for law enforcement officers and pilots operating CAP aircraft in remote areas with special survival considerations.
In summary, it cannot be stressed enough how valuable firearms training is for cadets interested in learning safe gun handling skills and rifle marksmanship.
We strongly encourage all CAP cadets to take advantage of the valuable training opportunity that is currently available. This training will not only enhance your personal and professional development but also equip you with lifelong safety skills that will be beneficial for our communities. We hope to see you there!