“Who’s shooting at us?” “What are they armed with?” “How far away are they?” These are life-or-death questions our military personnel face on the battlefield every day – and the kinds of questions Firearms Examiner candidates are learning to answer during a 17-week training program at NFSTC.
Starting November 1, NFSTC began training four candidates from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) to provide them with crucial Firearms Examiner skills. The goal is to equip these military personnel with advanced technician capabilities so they can be deployed overseas in seven to eight months. Traditional mentor-based Firearms Examiner training typically takes 18 to 24 months.
To facilitate rapid deployment, the training was condensed from NFSTC’s existing Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE)-certified, blended-learning firearms academy. NFSTC instructors – most of them ex-military – eliminated non-essentials such as gunshot residue, tool mark identification, communications, report writing, courtroom testimony and mock trials.
The training includes lots of comparison scope time – hands-on lab work comparing sample sets of fired projectiles side by side on a split-screen microscope. There will also be more than a few live rounds discharged on the mobile firing range, as well as instruction on firearms manufacturing, small arms ammunition, examination of firearms, cartridge and shotshell examination, and more.
“NFSTC is uniquely qualified to conduct this training,” said Dave Sylvester, NFSTC’s chief projects officer. “Our AFTE-certified curriculum, our forensic laboratory facilities and portable gun range provide students with an ideal learning environment.”
Following completion of the 17 weeks of training, the candidates will expand their skills with an additional 10 weeks of hands-on training at USACIL’s facilities, where they will participate in realistic battlefield scenarios to prepare them for deployment.