View Full Version : Ready on the firing line

02-06-09, 10:03 AM
Ready on the firing line
Base shooting teams nearly sweep firing championships
Lance Cpl. Paul D. Zellner

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa (February 6, 2009) -- The sound of rifles early in the morning may be music to the ears of most Marines, but it was especially sweet for those who took part in the Far East Division Championship on Camp Hansen during January.

Approximately 826 shooters competed in the matches, making it the largest in Marine Corps history.

The championship was divided into matches 'A' and 'B.' Match 'A' was held on Camps Hansen and Schwab, Jan. 5-16. Match 'B' was on Camp Hansen, Jan. 21-30.

According to Marine administrative message 739/08, the objective of the program is to enhance marksmanship proficiency within the Corps by refining precision marksmanship skills through advanced training and competition.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Clark, match executive officer, said the most important aspect of the matches is it forces Marines to focus more on hitting the center of the target instead of just hitting black.

The competition is broken down into individual and team rifle and pistol matches.

The Marine Corps Base Camp Butler team took three of the top four titles, including both team trophies and the individual rifle match. The Lloyd and Shively team trophies were given to the team at an awards ceremony on Camp Hansen, Jan. 31.

All four stages of pistol firing are done from the 25-yard line. Competitors fire the rifle in multiple stages on the 200, 300 and 500-yard lines.

"Division matches were harder than normal shoots because the targets were much smaller," said Sgt. Christopher McTurnan, organics platoon sergeant, Engineer Maintenance Company, 3rd Maintenance Battalion.

The matches on Camp Hansen were comprised of teams from all over Japan. Each team was to have one staff noncommissioned officer or officer, one sergeant or below that has never shot in division matches and two other Marines of any rank. One Marine is designated as team captain and one as team coach.

Coaches instruct the Marines on marksmanship fundamentals and proper technique and are available to aid them during live fire.

Many shooters improve during the matches. A shooter can enter the competition as a nonexpert and go on to earn a distinguished shooting badge, McTurnan said.

All Marines who participate are required to take part in a three-week training package that includes one week of classroom instruction, dry firing and combat marksmanship practical application.

The second week includes live fire training to develop shooting positions, adjusting sights and enhancing individual proficiency. The third week consists of the actual competition and awards ceremony.

The Far East division matches are one of four that take place Marine Corps-wide every year as part of the Competition-in-Arms Program. The top 10 percent of each competition move on to compete in the Marine Corps Championship Matches at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune April 6-24.