EWA BEACH, Hawaii --
A Marine’s best friend is his or her rifle. Marines master it as they master their lives. These are phrases from the Marine Rifle Creed that Marines all through history have lived by.
To this day, Marines strive to master their rifles because it could save their lives.Service members shot rifles and pistols Feb. 3, 2014, during the second day of qualification in the Pacific Division Matches at Puuloa Range Training Facility in Ewa Beach.
Classes started Feb. 2, teaching several shooting principles encompassing necessary techniques that competitors use throughout the competition. Instructors covered subjects on the gear competitors are allowed to use during the competition, wind handling, sling techniques and other competition programs.
Time was allotted to snap in or practice shooting positions like the prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. Coaches have been available for pointers and questions throughout the week. On Feb. 3, shooters started firing on the range, learning from primary marksmanship instructors who shared their knowledge with shooters on the range.
The qualifying rounds start Feb. 10, and continues through Feb. 11, the last day of the rifle shooting competition.There are approximately 170 shooters in the competition. The competition only allows Marines to receive medals, but all service members are can compete. Three Air National Guardsmen, six Army reservists and four civilians also competed this year. Service members from Hawaii installations reported to Puuloa RTF, where they started their journey to finish high in the division competition.
“Every Marine is a rifleman,” said Capt. Jon Trizila, the officer in charge of the Marine Corps Rifle Team and a 29-year-old native of Omaha, Neb. “The Marine Corps Rifle Team competes against some of the best marksmen in the world. What we gain from those competitions, we bring back to the Marine Corps so every Marine can be the best marksman they can be.”
Marines have to work through their individual base and region competitions before being afforded the opportunity to compete at the division level. After earning a place in the top of a division, top Marine shooters are chosen to compete in the highest Marine Corps competition.
The Eastern, Western and Pacific Divisions each host shooting competitions. The top qualifiers from each of division have an opportunity to attend the Marine Corps Shooting Championship aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Marines don’t learn how to shoot on their own. Primary shooting instructors can teach anyone everything they need to know to improve their shot. Six Marines on the Marine Corps Rifle Team from Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, traveled to offer their knowledge and experiences to all competitiors.
“I learned more during this competition than while in boot camp,” said Lance Cpl. Quincy Gilliland, a bulk fuels specialist with MCB Hawaii Fuels and a 22-year-old native of Liberty, N.C. “Coaches here are more willing to get more in depth on how to shoot more precisely.”
Marines interested in competing in the rifle or pistol team can get involved in intramural or division matches at their respective installation. Commands must grant permission before a service member can register with Weapons Training Battalion to participate. Marines who place high enough in the shooting competition and make it to the Marine Corps Shooting Team, can expect to serve a two to three-year tour with the team. The competition tests an individual’s ability to shoot, but can also help a marksman learn to shoot better. The best competition shooters apply themselves to shooting better every day.
“I feel like a true American when I get the opportunity to shoot in the Pacific Division Matches. America!” Gilliland said. “I know I have to come out and shoot my best because there are some really good shooters here this year. If you’re not first, you’re last.”
“Marines need to apply themselves during the training portion of the competition,” said Trizila. “If Marines apply themselves they will learn valuable skills for themselves and taking what they learned back to other Marines, enhancing the overall combat readiness of the Marine Corps.”