MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The crack of gunshots sounded throughout the Combat Center Rifle Range Nov. 17-21, as marksmen from across the country steadied their high-power rifles during the 51st Annual Twentynine Palms National Rifle Association Long Range Regional tournament.
This competition, which featured many unique weapons, gave shooters a chance to truly test their marksmanship skills from the 1,000-yard line, said Cpl. Greg Meinhardt, an instructor with the Combat Center’s Marks- manship Training Unit.
A long range distance difficult to find anywhere else and tough competition from all over the continental United States made the tournament attractive to both military and civilian parties.
Although it might seem like service members would naturally outshoot their civilian competition any day of the week, that just simply wasn’t the case, Meinhardt said. “Most of them are prior service and have been shooting for a very long time,” he said.
Corporal Joey P. Rice, an Indoor Simulated Marksman- ship Trainer instructor with the Marksmanship Training Unit, admitted he had somewhat of an advantage with his background in marksmanship, and backed this up with the bragging rights of championing the overall base competition last year.
“This is a true test of marksmanship,” said the Philadelphia native. “The fundamentals are all the same, and are even more important at such a great distance.”
That mixed with the hard recoil from the 7.62-caliber weapon that he was using makes it harder to stabilize and keep shots on target, he added.
“For a first-time shooter, I’m not doing too bad,” said Cpl. Isaac Hanson, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, after shooting 170 out of 200 from the 1,000-yard line, “One thousand yards is pretty far,” he added, looking down range at the tiny speck in the distance.
“I’m glad for the consistency that I’ve had, but I just got to get it to move,” he said.
His shot spotter was quick to console him. “Over a 1,000 yards for a first-time shooter - not too bad.”
The competition served as good practice for up and coming deadeyes like Hanson, reinforcing fundamentals and confidence. It also served as great venue to trade advice and tips from expert riflemen, an aspect the shooters said that they are already looking forward to next year.
Editor’s note: Final match results were not available as of press time. Keep an eye on the Combat Center’s Facebook page for scores at http://www.facebook.com/thecombatcenter.