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Players learn about assault rifles, Navy SEALS

by Brad Friedman / Columbus Blue Jackets

Just finished 2 days of Carbine training with my ex Navy SEAL buddy Ron at Validus. Unreal experience. #winchester

— James Wisniewski (@jameswisniewski) July 24, 2014

When you here the sentence “James Wisniewski fires off a shot,” the image of the Columbus defenseman shooting a slapshot from the point comes to mind.

During the offseason, that sentence has a different meaning: it’s quite literal.

Wisniewski, accompanied by teammates Jared Boll and Ryan Murray, has completed two levels of a three-tier assault rifle education class with ex-Navy SEAL and buddy Ron showing him the ropes. The course covers the fundamentals of gun safety, proper technique and everything else that goes into maintaining and operating a high-caliber weapon.

In addition to learning about the weapons and taking them out to the range, level two of the program sent the Blue Jackets out on a simulated SEAL night patrol. The program attempts to make the patrols seem as life-like as possible, so the members of the patrol had to scramble back to safety when “enemy fire” was reported near their location.

Wisniewski, a supporter of military charities such as the USO and Wounded Warriors, wanted to get an up-close sense of what members of the armed forces go through to prepare for whatever lies ahead.

“Going through some of what they have to endure,” Wisniewski said. “It was giving some of that simulation of training that they had to go through…it’s quite interesting.”

The fourth-year Blue Jacket is a fan of military-style video games, like Call of Duty, but experiencing a war zone simulation can’t really compare to playing a game.

“It’s nothing like that because you’re shooting real bullets. The sound, the feel,” Wisniewski said. “The ops are kind of similar with the red dot scopes and acogs…but that’s as similar as it gets.”

The excitement level of the trio was at an all-time high prior to signing up for the course and it wasn’t difficult for Wisniewski to recruit his friends to tag along. The sobering part of the experience came before the men even fired off a bullet: legal work.

“We were all excited until we had to go over medical things, if something happens and you accidentally get shot,” Wisniewski said. “All of a sudden, we kind of look around at each other and say, ‘it got real.’ It was time to concentrate a little bit more and focus.”

Fortunately, nobody sustained any injuries and level three of the program is coming up later this month.

What is level three? Oh, just jumping into the back of a speeding truck and firing away as if somebody is after them.

After an experience like that, matching up against some of the league’s toughest players should seem like a walk in the park.

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