Combat engineers at JBLM practice 'stress shooting'

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- A U.S. Army combat engineering unit is going through the "stress shoot" test at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The 100 members of the 571st Combat Engineer Company were all set to head to Afghanistan, but instead are staying home giving us an exclusive look at their preparation efforts.

The "stress shoot" training is part exhaustive physical exercise and part sharp-shooting. It's to simulate shooting under stress.

One of the primary duties of combat engineers in Afghanistan and Iraq was clear the path of roadside bombs. But oftentimes they have to fight for their lives as they come under direct enemy fire.

"The first time I took direct fire myself I was out in the open, so my first thing was cover," said Spec. Max Wolfer.

Company commander Capt. James Perkins added: "It is chaotic to say the least, the first time it happens."

That's where this stress shoot training comes into play. It helps soldiers manage the stress of combat.

"You're trying to control your breathing," said Pvt. Justin Tavani. "Once your breathing gets under control after a couple of seconds, your shot gets a little better. But not a first."

This unit was all primed to head to Afghanistan in the next few days, but got word one week ago they weren't needed.

"Fortunately not and that's a good thing," Perkins said. "It's helping us meet the strategic mission."

However, its companion unit, the 570th Combat Engineer Company is on its way to Afghanistan right now.