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Air Force basic military training trainees fire their M-4 carbines during a weapons familiarization course on June 8, 2019, at JB San Antonio-Medina Annex. The firing range allows instructors to train 244 BMT trainees daily, four days a week, qualifying more than 40,000 BMT trainees in the M-4 carbine annually. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong.

Basic military training participants went through a revamped weapons familiarization course for the first time at JB San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, this week.

As part of an overhaul of BMT, trainees will now use the M-4 carbine as opposed to the old M-16A2 rifle. This change, along with storm damage, prompted a makeover for the range at the JB San Antonio-Medina Annex, which opened for its first class July 8, according to an Air Education and Training Command release.

The new range allows for 244 trainees per day, four days per week, according to AETC.

“As we restore readiness in BMT, we will teach weapons proficiency early on,” CMSgt. Lee Hoover Jr., 737th Training Group superintendent, said in the release. “We will expose trainees to the M-4 so they can become familiar with the weapon and learn its nomenclature.”

Including the M-4 is part of an expanded BMT curriculum that grew from 7.5 weeks to 8.5 weeks. Other changes include turning the “BEAST week” simulated deployment into the training capstone, extended physical fitness sessions, more “warrior ethos” instruction, and a tactical combat casualty course, among others.

“We’re not looking to create robots, we’re purposefully creating critical thinking airmen,” Col. Jason Corrothers, the commander of the 737th Training Group, told Air Force Magazine during a visit to Lackland in December. “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing better, and that’s certainly what the 8.5-week program is designed to do.”