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MacDill AFB conducts first waterborne firing training

Department of the Air Force Police Lt. Todd C. Barrett, Officer in Charge of marine patrol, conducts a safety briefing for Airmen before they depart the marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., July 2, 2019.

Department of the Air Force Police Lt. Todd C. Barrett, officer in charge of marine patrol, conducts a safety briefing for Airmen before they depart the marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., July 2, 2019. Marine patrol briefs all personnel on safety procedures before they depart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano)

An M240 machine gun mounted on a 6th Security Forces Squadron Secured Around Flotation Equipped Boat after the 6th SFS marine patrol conducted live fire training 12 miles off the coast of Saint Petersburg, Fla., July 2, 2019.

An M240 machine gun mounted on a 6th Security Forces Squadron Secured Around Flotation Equipped Boat after the 6th SFS marine patrol conducted live-fire training 12 miles off the coast of Saint Petersburg, Fla., July 2, 2019. The marine patrol ensures the safety of the 7.2-mile coastline by patrolling the perimeter 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) --

The 6th Security Forces Squadron conducted its first waterborne proficiency firing training 12 miles off the coast of Saint Petersburg, Florida, July 2.

Sixth SFS marine patrol, with the support from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, fired an M240 machine-gun mounted on the front of a 30-foot long Secured Around Flotation Equipped Boat as part of a new proficiency firing training exercise.

MacDill Air Force Base is one of only three bases that has a marine patrol unit.

The training took place in the center of a two-mile restricted area approximately 12 miles off the coast of Saint Petersburg, Florida. A Hillsborough County Sheriff's boat acted as a safety boat, while the marine patrol used a large orange buoy as their target.

“The defenders need to be trained like this,” said Lt. Todd C. Barrett, officer in charge of marine patrol. “They need to understand what it’s like to shoot from a moving boat at a moving target.”

The training didn’t go easy for the defenders. Out in the open water and with strong winds that day, they had to deal with high swells that the Airmen had to compensate for.

“The front of the boat coming up and the actual target moving with the waves at a distance, made it a little harder,” said Tech Sgt. Randall Perry, the 6th SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms. “You have to time it just right when to start squeezing the trigger with when the boat rises and falls and when the target rises and falls.”

Prior to the training, the marine patrol would fire on a solid surface at a target as part of the Air Force qualification course for the M240 machine gun at Avon Park, Florida.

“Not being able to get on-target right away was hard at first,” said Senior Airman Bryan C. Scott, a 6th SFS marine patrolman. “I just learned to wait for the swells.”

According to the 6th SFS, the proficiency firing training went well and they can continue to improve upon the training for the future.

“We’re going to go back and update the course so that it will be more in-depth for their proficiency firing training,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Branch, a 6th SFS marine patrolman. “We got a lot of good takeaways on what we need to change and what we need to work on.”

The 6th SFS wants to make this proficiency firing a quarterly training exercise.