News>Through Airmen's Eyes: Airman puts crosshairs on life goal
Airman 1st Class Tiffani Potter, 14th Security Forces Squadron demonstrates how to properly hold a sniper rifle while sitting and remain blended in to her surroundings Oct. 26 on Columbus Air Force Base. During the Close Precision Engagement Course students are taught how to maintain rifle control while allowing the least amount of visibility possible. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
Airman 1st Class Tiffani Potter, 14th Security Forces Squadron spots for Jesse Janda, 14th SFS during a field shooting exercise. Potter and Janda became sniper-certified Sept. 21, making it possible for other Airmen at Columbus Air Force Base to seek their own certification. (Courtesy Photo)
Airman 1st Class Tiffani Potter, 14th Security Forces Squadron lies prone in a brush-covered area on Columbus Air Force Base to demonstrate the effectiveness of her ghille suit on Oct. 26. Local live foliage is added to the suit to allow the sniper to better blend into the current surroundings. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
by Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
11/9/2012 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- A person who aspires to live a fulfilling life must first establish future goals and then fight to achieve them each day. Goals are what drive a person to better themself, acquire what they want in life or make a difference in someone else's life.
"You have to have the motivation to get out and actually go after your goal, it's as simple as that," said Airman 1st Class Tiffani Potter, 14th Security Forces Squadron. "If you have the drive to want it and the required ability, you can make it happen."
For Potter, her life goal was realized when she and her field training partner, Jesse Janda, 14th SFS, became certified Air Force snipers Sept. 21, joining a select group in the Air Force, and opened the door to allow future Airmen at Columbus Air Force Base the opportunity to become sharpshooters as well.
"Being a sniper has always been a life goal of mine," said Potter. "It's just a job, but it's what I've always wanted to do."
Potter said she began competition shooting in high school through her Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit and developed a passion for it. She soon decided that she wanted to combine her passion for shooting with a goal she has had since she was a young girl of wanting to be like her father, a law enforcement agent.
"My dad wanted to be in the Air Force and I joined," said Potter. "My dad was a cop and so am I, and my dad always thought of how cool it would be to become a sniper..."
The process for Airmen at Columbus AFB to become a certified Air Force sniper begins with the Advanced Designated Marksman course, an 11-day training course that familiarizes the Airman with the M24 weapon system. Following ADM and through recommendation of instructors, an Airman can return to Fort Bliss, Texas to attend the 19-day Close Precision Engagement Course to learn field techniques and tactics to use in conjunction with the information learned during ADM.
"It's not something that you just say 'Oh yeah, I want to go,'" said Potter. "You have to actually show that you want to go because you're not going to get selected if you don't prove you want it."
CPEC pushes the students to their limits while driving them to excel under tremendous pressure during high intensity moments.
"You have to really want to be there," said Potter. "The training is enough to make you question why you're there."
CPEC training includes learning to make ghille suits, hiding in buildings and lying unseen in the field for hours at a time, learning to be a spotter and a shooter and many other tactics used in a deployed environment.
"The sniper course is difficult, but she spoke with others who had mastered it, prepared accordingly and achieved her goal," said Maj. Joseph Ringer, 14th SFS Commander.
According to Potter, what makes the training so tough is the mix of physical exertion, sleep deprivation and the fact that there is no set schedule.
"You have to show that you truly want to be in the training," said Potter. "They'll drop you from the course if you show that you don't want it badly enough."
Potter not only proved how badly she wanted to become a sniper by completing CPEC, she also became the 10th female in the military to become sniper-certified.
"Potter is off to an excellent start as a defender," said Ringer. "She knew she wanted to be a sniper and let nothing stand in her way."
The path that she has walked, from picking up competition shooting to joining the Air Force to becoming a Security Forces member, has led her to accomplishing her overall goal. Having achieved a goal of this caliber is no easy task. It took devotion and determination to complete the steps required to obtain the end result.
"Goals provide focus to our efforts and purpose to our work, but you must also establish objectives to keep you on track toward your goal," said Ringer. "Objectives are like sign posts, they let us know whether we're headed in the right direction or not. I truly believe goals without objectives are just dreams."
It is apparent that Potter understands the importance of setting tangible objectives in order to work toward her larger end goal. She believes that achieving goals is an important quality to improve self-worth.
"It feels good to have accomplished this," said Potter, "except now I have to find a new goal."