By Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko, II Marine Expeditionary Force
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Marines from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion aimed their sights on a higher level of training during an urban sniper course exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 27-April 20.
Marines from the Expeditionary Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force trained students to hone in on their shooting skills in order to qualify as Marine Corps snipers.
“It’s really heavily focused on marksmanship,” said Staff Sgt. James Stroope, lead urban sniper instructor with EOTG. “We spent the entire time focusing on urban engagements and engaging from alternate positions.”
Students engaged targets at distances up to 600 meters and spent approximately four days on various qualification courses using weapons to include the M40A6 and M110 semi-automatic sniper rifle systems, M107 special application scoped rifles, M27 infantry assault rifles, and M9 service pistols. Each event dedicated three and a half days to familiarizing the Marines with different shooting styles, with the last day serving as the final qualification.
The students had to pass tripod, barricade, and alternative position qualifications, which tested their ability to improvise a stand to stabilize their weapons. A pre-determined course allowed the Marines to practice shooting positions in an environment that simulated an actual battlefield.
Instructors placed car tires, 55-gallon drums, and other familiar items throughout the range to allow students to maneuver around the obstacles while strategically engaging stationary and moving targets.
“My favorite part of the course was probably improvised positions and shooting moving targets,” said Cpl. Kile Casto, team scout sniper with 2nd Recon. “It helps us in a more realistic setting and environment.”
In addition to the qualification courses, the students participated in drills where they were timed on identifying and engaging a target with only one round.
“It gives you a really good feeling at the end of the day,” said Stroope. “It’s just taking that little extra time every day, every hour, working with anybody on their positions and their shooting fundamentals so we can achieve that high level of marksmanship that we strive for here.”
The main goals are to increase the students’ long-range precision marksmanship and create the next generation of sniper instructors. Now these Marines can bring their refined skills back to their units and teach their Marines. By sharing this knowledge, non-sniper-trained Marines will be able to engage the enemy if necessary, creating a larger force capable of delivering long range fires.