Yesterday morning (Aug 8) I had the opportunity to visit Fort Sill for a special tour thanks to 'Team Sill on Target'. This great organization gives civilians an inside look on what it's like to be a solider and experience what our service men and women go through on a day to day basis. It was impressive to say the least watching them train and shoot. Being a military brat I've been to several live fire exorcises and it never gets old.

My Dad was military and I consider myself lucky to have grown up around the U.S. Army and getting to witness first hand just how incredible our armed forces are. It was great being back on the field and watching the big guns, seeing small fire drills and watching our soldiers in action. There's been a lot of changes in how our military trains and fights from when I was a kid, so it was like seeing it for the first time. An amazing display and one that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

Fort Sill remains the only active Army installation of all the forts on the Southern Plains built during the Indian Wars, and if you've been in Lawton, Ft. Sill for any length of time, surely you've heard the cannons, loud gun fire and had your windows rattled by large BOOMS. If you ever get the chance you'll want to take this tour and see for yourself exactly what's making all the noise. The mystery for me was solved quickly as our day started on the range watching the M11/9 Howitzer, just one of the big guns that are shot regularly out at Ft. Sill. Our tour guide Milton (Buddy) Leavell, an artillery expert, explained everything that was going on as we watched targets being destroyed down range. It was AWESOME!

Our next stop was the pistol qualification course down the road where we watched some new recruits doing some shooting drills with their M9 Beretta 9mm pistols. They went through several exercises, various ranges and practiced engaging targets while moving. God I love the smell of gunpowder in the morning!

Next went visited an urban combat training facility where troops train how to identify and neutralize an I.E.D. (Improved Explosive Device) We met with the range officer John Clipp who walked us through some of the exercises and training our soldiers receive before deploying to active combat. There were booby traps, tripwires and bombs of all kinds, including a suicide bomber (John Clipp) with explosives strapped to his chest. I even got to set of a small mine that in the real world would have taken my toes or foot off.

Our day ended back at base with lunch. All day the instructors and guides kept talking about what a great meal we'd have after our tour, bragging that a fest was being prepared. When we got to the mess hall, or cafeteria, they handed out M.R.E.s (Meal Ready to Eat) which is the standard meal or food our solider eat while in the field or in combat.

I had a great time and learned a lot about what our soldiers are having to go through and the training they get. Our service men and women, the warriors of the U.S. Armed forces are due our thanks and appreciation for all they do in preserving the American Dream and protecting our freedoms. I certainly have a greater understanding and gratitude for all they do especially after yesterday morning. I'd like to thank 'Team Sill on Target' all our hosts, guides, instructors and a BIG THANKS to Aaron Galloway for all his help with the video and pictures!

Watch video footage of artillery and IED training at Fort Sill:

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Watch soldiers navigate the pistol qualification course at Fort Sill:

Check out some photos from the Team Sill at Target Tour:

Artillery training - Fort Sill Army Post
Artillery training - Fort Sill Army Post (photo by: Aaron Galloway)
M11/9 Howitzer - Fort Sill
M11/9 Howitzer - Fort Sill (photo by: Aaron Galloway)
Forward Operating Site - Fort Sill
Forward Operating Site - Fort Sill (photo by: Aaron Galloway)
Critter looks good, but doesn't quite meet the grooming standards of the U.S. Army
Happy face on the range - Fort Sill
Happy face (all clear) on the range (photo by: Aaron Galloway)
Team Sill on Target Tour - Fort Sill
Team Sill on Target Tour - Fort Sill (photo by: Aaron Galloway/TSM)
IED Training Lane - Fort Sill
Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Training Lane - Fort Sill (photo by: Aaron Galloway/TSM)
John Clipp, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Trainer
John Clipp, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Trainer (photo by: Aaron Galloway/TSM)
MRE (meal ready to eat) - Fort Sill
MREs for lunch. (photo by: Aaron Galloway/TSM)

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