Denis Shikov has been serving in the Russian Marines for only three months, but the machine gun has never left his side. He studies the weapon both in theory and practicability, especially considering that this is new technology that has only recently been adopted by Russia’s armed forces. The PKP, also known as the Pecheneg, is quite new. It has its own cooling system which keeps the barrel cool, allowing the shooter to fire non-stop without replacing the barrel. Visually, the only differences from the legendary PKM machine gun are the carrying handle, the black synthetic stock, and the new repositioned bi-pod.
Today, all of the soldiers training at the range are young men, conscripted into the Russian armed forces at the end of last year. The results of their training are already visible. The training program for the air assault troops is designed specifically so that they can learn everything at once. Passing through barbed wire and firing at targets while on the run are just a small part of their training procedures. Closer to summer, they will begin training parachute jumps, but for now, the weather dictates the conditions for training. Due to the cold weather and frost, the soldiers must take a break every 30-40 minutes in special “warm-up points” located near every training location. Today, the weather is -20 C, but inside the tent it is warm. The heater is on, and the sandwiches and hot tea are aplenty. Under these conditions, serving in the military is not a burden.
After the short break, it’s back to the firing range. Here, it is pretty simple. Up ahead is a mock-up of an enemy that needs to be destroyed. Ivan Gerasev has the right to not just hit the target in the center, but a little to the right or left, as well, due to the high explosiveness of the RPG rounds. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t try to hit the 10 every time he fires the RPG-7 to boost his skills to an elite level, for which time and RPG rounds are certainly expendable. Such tests are performed three times a week. Right now, the training is going according to schedule. By spring, the soldiers will not only need to learn to shoot well, but to function correctly as a squad, and after they pass all tests, they will be able to claim the black beret, the reward for a man for whom nothing is impossible.