MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
A shot rang out across the installation as Sgt. Maj. Scott Cooper, Headquarters Battalionsergeant major, sent it down range at the Combat Center’s Range 1, Sept. 23. The opening shot signified the official commencement of the 2013 Combat Center Rifle and Pistol Competition.
The rifle and pistol competition, or intramural competition, tests the installation’s best shooters. It challenges them through a match-style course of shooting and an infantry team match. The shooters qualify with both M4 and M16 A4 service rifle, and the M9 pistol.
“It pushes and improves their understanding of basic Marine marksmanship fundamentals,” said Sgt. Wayne Gallagher, chief instructor, Marksmanship Training Unit. “Intramurals is the most basic level of competition and all units aboard the Combat Center are invited to send their Marines.”
Intramurals are the first step in Marine Corps competitive shooting.
The individuals who excel in the competition are invited to join the installation’s shooing team and represent the Combat Center in the divisional competition. The best will be determined by the most consistent shooters throughout the match course, infantry team competition and annual qualifications.
After the intramural competition, shooter can go on to Marine Corps matches, and compete for a spot on the All-Marine Corps Shooting Team. Shooters can also become Distinguished Shooters by winning matches and earning points toward a distinguished medal.
For many of the Marines, competition marksmanship is a new experience. The rifle course-of-fire is slightly different from annual rifle qualification standards. Shooters are required to load rounds individually and fire more rounds in the standing position. During the pistol portion, shooters are required to shoot with one hand, which can be a challenge for new shooters.
“It was a lot more fun than I expected,” said Cpl. Garrick Rumley, woodshed NCO, MTU. “It’s fun to compete and it makes everyone a better shooter. It was my first time shooting the M9 service pistol and I had a really good time.”
The competition is spread out through two weeks of shooting. The first week is for practice while the second focuses on matches and qualification.
This gives shooters the time and the rounds to fine-tune their shooting for the week that counts. Match days are early in the week and will make up the bulk of their score. Annual qualifications come next and shooter will aim for expert.
The infantry competition is like a bonus portion where shooters will run down the range, stopping at firing points and put rounds down range and effectively engage targets.
“For competition shooting and marksmanship, you have to take one shot at a time,” Gallagher said. “Competition shooting really stresses that. You can’t worry about how you did on your last shot. It’s always about the next shot you’re going to take. They’re going to get all the practice they need out here. The more they shoot, the better they will be.”
The competition will continue until Oct. 4 when the winners will be announced. MTU is hoping they will find a few quality shooters to represent the Combat Center in future Marine Corps marksmanship competitions.