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Spc. Jennie DuShane is shown July 21, in Fargo. The Soldier with the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 191st Military Police Company recently became the first female Guard Soldier in the state to become qualified as a Squad Designated Marksman. Only a third of students enrolled in the course designed to hone marksmen in the 300- to 600-meter firing distance met the standards to receive the title.

DuShane first female ND Guard marksman

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features Fargo, 58102
West Fargo Pioneer
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Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

By Staff Sgt. Laura Balliet, 191st Military Police Company

It has been said that every soldier, no matter their military occupational specialty (MOS, or job skill), is a rifleman first. All soldiers understand that there are three essential skills to ensure mission success: shoot, move and communicate. Spc. Jennie DuShane, a military policeman from West Fargo understands the importance of these three skills. Last month, DuShane had the opportunity to hone her shooting skills and became the North Dakota Army National Guard's first female Squad Designated Marksman.

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DuShane spent two weeks at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark., learning how to improve on her already established marksmanship fundamentals. She had participated as a member of her high school rifle team and has a history of qualifying at the "Expert" level with her assigned weapon, the M4-series rifle. Based on her experience and qualification history, the 191st Military Police Company, the unit with which she serves, found it only fitting that she be a candidate to attend the Squad Designated Marksman course.

"The SDM, or Squad Designated Marksman, supports the squad by laying down accurate rapid fire at distances beyond the normal engagement range of the squad's rifleman. The average rifleman is trained to engage targets up to 300 meters away. A sniper engages targets beyond 600 meters while the SDM is trained to engage targets in 'No Man's Land,' the area between the capabilities of the two. Although the SDM receives much of the same training, (the SDM) is not a sniper. The SDM is a rifleman and deploys as a member of a squad. (The SDM) maneuvers and engages with his squad and never operates alone."

The SDM course consists of five qualification ranges as well as Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight skills, Close-Quarter Battle skills, off-hand shooting techniques and "trace" technique. Soldiers must qualify on the "300 to 100" qualification in order to remain enrolled in the course. For the remaining four qualification ranges, Soldiers must obtain a score of 70 percent on each. Should a Soldier score below 70 percent on one of those, they are only removed from the course if their average qualification for the other ranges does not exceed 70 percent. Soldiers are taught enhanced marksmanship fundamentals and skills, including range estimation and wind calculations in order to accurately engage targets beyond 300 meters.

DuShane, who joined the Guard in December 2009, estimated that she fired more than 1,500 rounds throughout the course. Although she was confident in her marksmanship fundamentals prior to the course, she was nervous about meeting the course qualification requirements.

"Even if I would have failed to qualify and been sent home, I would not have seen it as a failure," she said. "Every day I was able to learn something new to enhance my skills. While I would have been disappointed in myself had I not graduated, I would not have been disappointed in the experience."

DuShane's class started with 32 Soldiers enrolled on the first day. When graduation day arrived, 11 Soldiers remained enrolled. Those 11 graduated with the designation of SDM.

DuShane's instructors informed her that she is only the third female Soldier to graduate from the course at their location.

"I'm excited to have graduated and to bring enhanced marksmanship skills and knowledge back to the unit to share with other Soldiers," DuShane said. "It's a course I would recommend to any Soldier who is consistent in their shooting skills and is comfortable with the basic marksmanship fundamentals so they may enhance and build upon those skills."

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Download high-resolution photos from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard/sets/72157634792850944/.

DuShane 948/949.jpg: Spc. Jennie DuShane is shown July 21, in Fargo. The Soldier with the North Dakota Army National Guard's 191st Military Police Company recently became the first female Guard Soldier in the state to become qualified as a Squad Designated Marksman. Only a third of students enrolled in the course designed to hone marksmen in the 300- to 600-meter firing distance met the standards to receive the title. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Laura Balliet, 191st Military Police Company)

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