View Full Version : One Shot....One Kill......

08-13-03, 12:03 PM
Submitted by: MCRD Parris Island
Story Identification Number: 200388103040
Story by Cpl. Thomas Perry

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.(Aug. 8, 2003) -- One shot, one kill, has been part of the Marine Corps' unwritten marksmanship syllabus since its birth in 1775, and has proven to be an invaluable mantra for Devil Dogs in conflicts throughout the Corps' history.

Recently, Sgt. Joshua Hughes and Cpl. James Ruiz used that code, not in the far-off, sweltering deserts of the Middle East, but in the heat of competition at the Rifle and Pistol Nationals as part of Marine Corps Base Quantico's Summer Pistol Team.

Both shooters were first noticed by Quantico's veteran marksmen during a match in Jacksonville, Fla., where Ruiz and Hughes were firing as teammates on the Depot's pistol team.

Quantico's team, which is comprised of the Marine Corps' best rifle and pistol competitors, sent a group of shooters to observe Parris Island's team during their Florida competition.

Ruiz and Hughes were the only two Marines that the Quantico observers selected.
Both shooters were about to embark on a summer adventure that neither would ever forget, but the roads of life that led each man to this point could not have been more different.

The Long Road Home

Ruiz, a prior service Marine who spent six years in the Corps from 1990-96, said that he had fired in pistol competitions during his first tour, but when he was forced to get out of the Corps in 1996, his dream of joining the Marine Corps' best team faded.

His love of the Marine Corps, however, never did fade, said Ruiz, who during his six- year hiatus from military service held many jobs, including that of a police officer and a health club owner.

"It's not as easy as everybody thinks it is," said Ruiz, who reenlisted in the Corps after Sept. 11, 2001, when a friend told him the Marine Corps wanted him back. "Everybody thinks there's a lot of job security in the civilian world. I'm here to tell you there's not."

Once Ruiz arrived on the Depot, his new commanding officer realized that Ruiz had pistol competition experience and urged him to compete in the Depot's intramural competitions, which were about to begin. The wheels were sent in motion and in a few months, Ruiz would soon be on his way to Quantico.

A Shorter Journey

Hughes, whose good showing during this year's inter-service matches earned him enough pistol competition points to become a distinguished shooter, first fired a pistol only two and a half years ago when he was at coaches school on the Depot.

Hughes said that he hadn't even thought about competitive shooting until he found out he had made the Depot team.

Even though his experience with a pistol has been brief, he has amassed an impressive track record as a shooter including a Gold medal in a 2003 inter-service leg match, a Bronze medal at 2002 Marine Corps Matches and a Silver medal at the 2003 Jacksonville Dixie Regionals.

For his most important accomplishment with a pistol, he was depending on others to recognize his skills.

"It has been one of my mid-term goals since I started on the Parris Island team," said Hughes, referring to his selection to the Quantico Summer Team.

A Summer of Competition

Both Hughes and Ruiz were extremely excited about their summer prospects, but neither were ready for the thrill of national level competition or the unique camaraderie that they would build with their new teammates.

"The camaraderie you experience with the other shooters is amazing," said Ruiz. "A lot
of your competitors are civilians, but that doesn't matter. They love the Marines, and they thirst for the motivation the Marine Corps provides."

This is a thirst the Marines of the Quantico team are more than happy to quench.

"Every time we went to a match we provided a short class to anyone who was interested," added Ruiz. "When we finally reached the Nationals, the same people I had taught in the beginning of the summer would come up to me and say that scores had greatly increased."

The Marine Corps' National scores also increased, as they won every team match except for the Gold Cup. Although it was nice to be part of a winning team, Ruiz hinted that the excitement of the competition far outweighed their team success.

"Looking to your left and right and seeing 300 shooters on the line is incredible," said Ruiz, who won a First Gold Medal and finished 12th in the President's 100 during the Nationals. "It's the most incredible feeling that I have ever experienced."

Hughes was also impressed with his summer of National-level competition, but it was his overall love of this "gentleman's sport" that will forever keep his interest.

"I love the fact that you are always striving to get better," said Hughes. "No matter how well you shoot, there is always room for improvement."

The Final Shot

Hughes and Ruiz both were selected to join the full time Marine Corps Pistol Team. Ruiz will join the team soon, but Hughes will not be able to attend because of his career requirements.

So these two Marines, who forged a friendship amongst the high temperatures and even higher pressures of a summer of competitive shooting, will be separated for at least a while, but there are always future matches and the two will meet again.

No matter how long they shoot together as teammates, or against each other as competitors, no experience will match their first summer, when two Marines, with very different stories, shared a journey and hit their marks.