Officers of 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, conducted a stress shoot Dec. 16 at Range 1 on Fort Drum.
A stress shoot tests a Soldier’s ability to engage a target after prolonged physical exertion and mental exhaustion.
Maj. Andrew Henning, executive officer for 4-31 Infantry, encourages training events like this for all of the officers in his battalion. The better trained they are, the better they can plan and execute training for their Soldiers.
"The Polar Bear platoon leaders are adding stress shoots into their training plans in order to achieve a higher level of realism for our Soldiers,” he said.
This is one of the most challenging training events of the year. With mercury levels well below zero, the Polar Bear officers were separated into teams of four to begin the fitness portion of the training. Each team donned their full kit to include improved outer tactical vest, fighting load carrier, Kevlar helmets and cold weather gear. With M-4 rifles in hand, the teams were launched in intervals from the battalion on a timed road course, which measured three miles.
The run concluded with a series of muscle fatiguing exercises, including a 200-meter team litter carry, 200-meter water can run, 50 meters of lunges and 25 squat jumps.
Immediately after the fitness portion, each team entered the range to conduct the stress shoot. Each officer was required to engage a 25 meter target from the prone, kneeling, and standing positions with their M4 carbine. In order to encourage accuracy, a one minute penalty was assessed to a team’s overall time for each missed round. All teams successfully completed the training with competitive times and accuracy scores.
The intent of the stress shoot was to provide the Polar Bear leadership an opportunity to experience firsthand the effects of an elevated heart rate on marksmanship accuracy, to build unit cohesion among the officer corps in the battalion, and to give a training example for new lieutenants to follow within their formations.
"The event reminded the veterans and demonstrated to the new officers what it's like to fire while exhausted, adrenaline is pumping and conditions are not ideal,” Henning said. “It allowed us to train as we fight by working in full kit and test our marksmanship skills while under duress."
Because of the success of this event, future stress shoots at the platoon level are being planned to further train the leadership within the Polar Bear battalion at the NCO level.
(Balish serves as the fire support officer for 4-31 Infantry.)