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USCG Auxiliary Firearms Coaches Assisting The Coast Guard

Select teams of Coast Guard Auxiliarists in Florida, New York and New Jersey are among the first in the country to become Firearms Coaches and Range Safety Officers for the Coast Guard.Top Of This Page

April 10, 2006 -- Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary perform all missions conducted by active duty and reserve USCG personnel with two exceptions – they cannot be involved in direct combat activities nor can they perform direct law enforcement duties. However, a select group of Auxiliarists in Florida, New York and New Jersey, can be found working on Coast Guard firing ranges. These Auxiliarists are among the first in the country to become Firearms Coaches and Range Safety Officers for the Coast Guard.
These Coast Guard Auxiliarists act as a force multiplier, enabling Team Coast Guard to keep up with the additional firearms training required by active duty and reserve units necessary to meet the increased post 9/11 operational tempo.

CG Group Moriches, on Long Island, imported the concept from CG Group Miami and began a pilot program after obtaining approval from then Commander John Felker, Director of the Auxiliary’s First District. Six months later, CG Station Sandy Hook in New Jersey, began training Coast Guard Auxiliarists to assist their Gunner’s Mates. Newly promoted Captain Felker moved on to an assignment at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C.  The Auxiliary Firearms Coaching Units continue to flourish under the leadership of current Sector New York Auxiliary Director, Commander Elizabeth Young.

A call for volunteers went out with the criteria for candidates being prior military and/or law enforcement experience with firearms, active gun club membership or certification as a firearms instructor. After receiving numerous responses, 14 candidates were selected for Group Moriches and 18 for Station Sandy Hook.Top Of This Page

There is also a long list of qualified Coast Guard Auxiliarists in a reserve file available for consideration in the event that additional coaches are needed.

All coaches were required to pass the same Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) firearms course that is required of active duty and reserve USCG personnel and to be proficient with the three basic personal weapons used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The "Auxiliary Firearms Coaching Units" (AFCUs), lead by Auxiliarist Harvey Miller, at CG Group Moriches and Steve Kisver, at CG Station Sandy Hook, have conducted several classroom sessions with the 9mm Beretta pistol, M16 rifle, and Model 870 shotgun. The Group Moriches AFCU, which began operation 6 months prior to the Station Sandy Hook unit, has completed live fire training sessions as well.

These sessions also involve understanding the operation and function of each weapon including breaking it down, cleaning, and reassembly, as well as being able to teach this vital PQS program to regular and reserve members of Team Coast Guard. 

Frank D. Maresca, USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 67 member, is Marshall for the Village of Mamaroneck, a police firearms instructor, and part of the elite Marine Unit of the Rye Police Department. Robert Daraio, also from Flotilla 67, is a Village of Ossining Court Constable. Frank and Bob are excited about working to help improve the shooting skills of active and reserve Coast Guard units.  

“Anything we can do to support the brave young members of Team Coast Guard that put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf is a privilege” said Daraio.  Top Of This Page

Frank Maresca said “We’re too old to go ourselves, so the least we can do is offer our experience in a training setting. If one Coastie is one step faster, one iota more prepared, and saves himself or someone else as a result of our efforts, this program is worthwhile”.

Frank and Bob recently certified as Instructors on the Beam Hit System, the Coast Guard’s “shoot- don’t shoot” Judgmental Shooting Course training simulator.

Reaction to this program by the Coast Guard Command at Group Moriches and Station Sandy Hook has been extremely favorable, with the Auxiliary adding a significant dimension to their weapons training activities. Indications are that as a result of this program, more people can get more firearms training, in a more timely fashion, and scores will continue to improve as well.

Despite the fact that Auxiliary coaches are handling weapons during these training exercises, they are not being issued firearms for custodial keeping. All weapons used in training evolutions are returned to a designated USCG regular at the conclusion of each session.
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The Coast Guard expects to expand this program to other USCG commands within the First District, which covers the Mid Atlantic and New England regions.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of uniformed, non-military volunteers who assist the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for direct military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary in 1941. Its 30,000 members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.

Contact: Aux. Wayne Spivak
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
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