Rifle issue instills responsibility early in training

Rifle issue instills responsibility early in training

Recruits of K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, await further orders from their drill instructors after receiving their M-16 A4 service rifle aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego April 8. Recruits will be required to learn how to disassemble and reconfigure their rifle. Photo by LCpl Bridget M. Keane.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (April 25, 2013) - Throughout history, Marines have been known to possess a one shot, one kill mindset that allows them to manipulate a rifle to deliver accurate shots with desired results. This state of mind and skill begins when a recruit is first introduced to his rifle in recruit training.

Recruits of Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, went through rifle issue aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego April 8.

A day prior to Training Day One, each recruit receives their M-16 A4 service rifle. The M-16 A4 is a light-weight, magazine fed, gas operated, air-cooled weapon that has evolved through the years and has become the favored weapon of the Marine Corps.

During the 12-week training cycle, recruits have the responsibility of maintaining their issued M-16 A4. With it, they learn discipline and obedience through individual weapons handling during drill and the fundamentals of marksmanship as they qualify at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Although it is important for recruits to learn marksmanship and rifle manual during training, owning a rifle primarily teaches responsibility.

"Being issued a rifle teaches (recruits) responsibility," said Sgt Paul White, drill instructor, Platoon 3223, Co. K, 3rd RTBn. "It instills more discipline because it is another component added to training."

The responsibility that comes with caring for a weapon includes learning the rifle's serial number, keeping the weapon clean and learning the fundamentals of marksmanship, explained White, a 25-year-old Tampa, Fla. native.

"For a lot of (recruits), Recruit Training is a first for everything," said White. "This is probably the first time they have held a weapon and they need to learn about the power that comes with it."

Recruits lined up and waited for their turn to finally hold their weapon. The M-16A4 is one of the few items in recruit training that a recruit can call his own. There are a small number of times when a recruit is separated from his rifle; and even then, there is always a set of watchful eyes on it.

"Being issued a rifle definitely teaches you to hold yourself and others accountable," said Recruit Todd Lawlor, Plt. 3223, Co. K, 3rd RTBn. "But I feel it's more important to learn and understand the power of handling the weapon."

Lawlor, a 23-year-old Frisco, Texas native, explained most recruits have never handled weapons before training, therefore it is very important for them to learn about weapon safety rules and muzzle awareness, especially when handling a loaded weapon.

"You should be aware of where your muzzle is pointed at all times; even when it's not loaded," said Lawlor. "You'll get used to always pointing it down range or away from objects that you don't want to shoot."

While this may be the first time that some recruits have ever held a weapon, it won't be their last. Every Marine is required to do annual marksmanship training throughout their career. Scores they receive from qualifying can help a Marine toward future promotions and awards.

Co. K will now move on in training with their rifles by their sides to learn drill movements, how to use their rifles in close-quarter combat and to become proficient in basic marksmanship skills, while continuing to practice safe handling at all times.

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