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Cpl. Joseph Alvarez, aircraft rescue and firefighting, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Camp Pendleton, runs through the course of fire during the Western Regional Combat Match at the Combat Center Rifle Range, July 1, 2015. The courses created challenged the Marines to think quickly while handling weapons safely. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/ Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd

Running, gunning during Western Regional Combat Match

2 Jul 2015 | Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Combat Center hosted the annual Western Regional Combat Match at the Rifle Range June 29 through July 2, 2015.

             The competition, ran by the Marine Corps Combat Shooting Team along with the Combat Center Marksmanship Training Unit, is meant to refine the combat marksmanship skills of the participants with three different weapon systems. The weapons used during the competition were the Benelli M1014 shotgun, the M9 pistol and the M16 or M4 service rifles.

            “The Combat Match, also called a Three-gun Match, challenges its participants by having them think while shooting through different scenarios,” said Sgt. James Marker, instructor, MTU. “The course of fire depends on the imagination of the people conducting the course, so no two courses are the same. During the course of fire certain targets are designated for certain weapons, making the participant think before they engage a target.”

            One hundred eight Marines from seven units participated in the competition. The units represented included: Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, the Combat Center MTU, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 and 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

            “This particular match was open to any Marine west of the Mississippi River,” said Capt. Jared Dalton, officer in charge, Marine Corps Combat Shooting Team. “The main purpose behind this match is to better prepare the Marines.”

            The match is a tool used to create Marines who have a better understanding of each weapons system.

            “The traditional ‘table one’ bulls-eye marksmanship is the fundamental base for all marksmanship,” Dalton said. “Combat matches give Marines the opportunity to use skills that are not found in the traditional marksmanship courses. The Marine has to multitask to reload their weapon, walk, engage targets, know which targets to engage and when to engage them.”

            The match spanned four days allowing for two days of practice and two days to run the courses of fire for score.

            “The point of having different courses of fire every day is to keep the Marines prepared for anything,” said Marker. “The Marines did not know what the course of fire for the range they are on until they get there. This keeps the Marines on their toes and keeps them thinking.”

            These matches give the Marines an opportunity to train in a more realistic way and challenge themselves to become better combat marksman.

            “The Marines enjoy being able to shoot while moving and improving themselves,” Marker said. “The Marines don’t have the opportunity to participate in these types of matches as often. Having to deal with walls and windows while ensuring that they only hit the targets they are supposed to is a challenge that, I think, makes these courses of fire more realistic.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms