Marine Corps shooting teams: Competition breeds excellence (Part 2)

A Marine with the Marine Corps pistol shooting team fires during practice at the ranges on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Dec. 8, 2011. Members of the shooting teams are chosen from the top shooters in division matches that occur around the Corps. The goal of the team is for the team to continue to learn and pass on marksmanship fundamentals to Marines in the fleet.

Sgt Joshua Martin, member of the Marine Corps shooting team, prepares to fire during rifle practice at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Dec. 8. The intent of the shooting team program is for the members to achieve advanced marksmanship techniques and then share those skills with other countries and other Marines. It is this passing of knowledge that makes the team so valuable to the Marine Corps mission.

MARINE CORPS BASE Quantico, VA. (September 3, 2012) — The majority of the team's competitions occur midyear, between April and August. They compete in inter-service competitions such as the Army inter-service pistol competition at Fort Benning, Ga., and the rifle inter-service match at MCB Quantico. The competitions, whether against the other United States military services or civilian teams, take place worldwide – with teams representing the Corps across the U.S. and abroad in locations such as Australia and England. During these matches, Marines show off the skills they've perfected.

"Between both teams, we'll fly over 25,000 miles, and drive another 7,500 over 200 days for about 20 different matches," Roberge said.

At these competitions, the Marines have the opportunity to earn points toward becoming a Distinguished Marksman and a Distinguished Pistol Shot through up-to-four leg matches per year to include the Marine Corps Championships, the Inter-service Championships and the National Championships. Competitors can also win a Secretary of the Navy Trophy rifle, typically an M1 Garand, for winning a match or being the highest scoring new shooter, known as a ‘tyro.' "The overall prize though is to increase a shooter's confidence in the ability to accurately fire small arms, and bring back these advanced skills to their units for their Marines to learn and apply," Roberge said.

Even though the mid-year competitions serve as an opportunity for prizes and awards, they are merely preparation for the most important competition: nationals.

"The U.S. Rifle National and Pistol National Championships are the most widely recognized shooting events in the United States," Roberge said. "Nationals are the primary competitive event the Marine Corps Shooting Team trains for throughout the shooting season. The knowledge gained by competing amongst the best in the nation gives us more tools and techniques to teach marksmanship to others, and positively impacts our ability to shoot better." In 2012, the two Marine Corps Pistol Teams placed second and third out of six teams at the 53rd Annual Pistol Inter-service Championship in Fort Benning, Ga. The Marine Corps Rifle Team will head to the 51st Interservice Rifle

"The team has done well so far this year," Roberge said. "We had a great showing at the Eastern Division Matches and Marine Corps Championships. We also had top placements at State and Regional matches for the Rifle and Pistol teams."

Joining the Team
The best way for Marines who want to be considered for the rifle or pistol team to get started is with intramural or division matches on Marine Corps bases. They must then get permission from their command before submitting an application to the Weapons Training Battalion at MCB Quantico, Va. If selected, they will serve a normal two-to-three year tour with the team. Prospective Marine shooters should understand up front that becoming a member of the team isn't an easy commitment and requires more than the ability to put rounds in the black. "We're looking for a great shooter," Roberge said. "But he or she absolutely must have the right attitude. We have developed chemistry on the current team, and we'd like to be able to maintain it. If they're not a team player, I don't care if they're winning everything, we don't want them."

This mindset of unity and common purpose drives the members of the Marine Corps shooting teams to not just win competitions, but to hone their marksmanship skills so they are better equipped to bring those skills to Marines Corps-wide. With every shot the members of the Marine Corps rifle and pistol shooting teams put down-range, with every clinic they coach and with every trophy they bring home, they are proving to other military branches and the world that Marines truly are known and feared for their marksmanship. They carry on the proud tradition that every Marine is a rifleman and serve as a call to excellence for all Marines.

MARINES MAG is the Marine Corps' Official Magazine and is maintained by Marine Corps News at the Defense Media Activity Marine Corps Element.