MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Steady, aim, fire was the mind set for participants during an annual marksmanship competition.
The annual Western Division Matches consisted of more than 380 Marines, retirees and civilians competing March 8-19 here. It was marked as one of the largest turnouts in more than 20 years with an average of 10 participants per team ranking in an array of grades and time in service.
Marine Corps Order 3591.2J states that the small arms marksmanship competition objectives are to enhance the marksmanship proficiency and combat readiness of the Marine Corps by stimulating interest and desire on the part of the individual Marine for self improvement of skill and confidence with the rifle and pistol. It's for Marines to gain and maintain a Marine Corps ability to compete and win, as teams and individuals, in interservice and national matches and to provide competitors for United States teams in international matches.
Many see this event as an opportunity to further their career in the Corps.
"The competition increases weapon proficiency in the Marine Corps," said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher J. Geraci, meteorology and oceanography chief, Headquarters Co., Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group. "It's one on the most important core skills all Marines should have."
Prior to firing the first round, participants went through hours of classes refreshing skills in weapon marksmanship. Competitors used this as an opportunity to smooth out bumps in their performance.
"It's a great opportunity to participate in this competition. I get more practice with (firing) the rifle and become qualified (with) the pistol," said Lance Cpl. Quintin L. Harrison, 21, from Altoona, Iowa, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group. "A lot of Marines forget their weapon fundamentals because they only fire (their weapon) once a year."
During the 11-day match, competitors fired more than 740 rounds down range in a variety of distances and firing positions. They fired with an M9 pistol, an M16A4 service rifle and an M4 service rifle.
Participants were qualified to partake in the competition as long as Marines rated a sharpshooter badge for marksmanship and retirees and civilians had proof as marksmen with the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
As the competition ended March 17, Marines were given the opportunity to participate in the rapid fire portion know as 'table two,' where they engage targets at a closer distance. This is a marksmanship requirement to receive annual
qualification with the rifle.
Many of the participants were vivid competitors with high rifle and pistol scores who work as marksmanship instructors, infantrymen, scout snipers, coaches and range operation personnel.
"The competition trains Marines to effectively kill bad guys," said Warrant Officer Eric G. Brayman, 39, from Milltown, Wis., officer in charge of Wilcox Range, Operations and Training, Marine Corps Base. "It hones Marines' fundamentals in marksmanship and ethos that every Marine is a rifleman because that is our success in battle."