BAKER — Ever wondered what it would be like to fire an Uzi or an AK-47?
Next week, Northwest Florida residents will get their chance.
Soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) will be bringing out the big guns April 26 for a Shooting with Special Operations Forces fundraising event, the first in the Panhandle.
“The 7th Group is very new to the area; this is a way for the community to come out and meet some of these soldiers and learn about what they do and some of the weapons they shoot,” said Scott Neil, the event’s organizer.
Those weapons include combat assault rifles, carbines, sniper systems, and combat pistols.
“Basically, everything but the hand grenades,” Neil said.
7th Group soldiers, also known as Green Berets, will be on hand offering tips and techniques to individuals and teams who sign up.
There will be a competition, though the idea is to have fun and include anyone who is interested, whether or not they are experienced shooters, Neil said.
Sixteen teams have already signed up, but there’s room for more.
The event is designed for “guys and gals” alike, and even younger family members of participants are encouraged to attend and 7th Group soldiers will offer them some weapons safety tips and instruction.
Though Special Forces soldiers are deployed often, they usually serve the majority of their careers in the community where they are based, instead of moving from base to base like other service members. For that reason, Neil said it’s important to bridge any gaps between the soldiers and the civilian world.
This event aims to do that.
“Special operators, especially Green Berets, we’re almost like military unicorns,” he said. “You hear about them, see them in the Hollywood movies, but you really never meet one on a personal level, getting to know them as members of a community and not just some elite fighting force.”
The Green Beret Foundation, which is putting on the event, will donate proceeds to the upcoming 7th Group reunion and ball, which lost funding during recent budget cuts.
Neil expects the event to continue in coming years.
“It’s such a unique and dynamic experience that it not only gets the community talking before, but after the event,” he said. “We want to do it again next year.”
WANT TO GO?
Shooting with SOF will be held at KM Shooting Center in Baker on April 26. A shuttle will pick up participants at the Helen Back in Niceville at 9 a.m. and return by 5 p.m. An after-party will be held at the restaurant, including a raffle and silent auction. Anyone is invited to attend. Find more information or sign up at gbfsupport.org.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Lauren Sage Reinlie at 850-315-4443 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenRnwfdn.