OKINAWA, Japan --
U.S. Marines across Okinawa gather to compete in the 2020 Far East Intramural Matches on Camp Hansen, December 7-18.
Once a year, members from the Marine Corps Shooting Team travel to Okinawa to host the Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition Far East. However, due to COVID-19, the shooting team was unable to travel to Okinawa. Instead, Marine Corps Installations Pacific hosted the 2020 Far East Intramural Matches in its place. The first week of the competition focused on learning the fundamentals and turning the required movements into muscle memory.
“We need to make sure shooters are socially distanced and wearing a mask to keep everyone safe,” said Gunnery Sgt. Roland Moody, the Formal Marksmanship Training Center Staff Noncommissioned Officer with Headquarters & Support Battalion and a native of Staten Island, New York. “This competition is a local match and officiated locally, but it can still give the competitors a chance to enhance their marksmanship skills.”
Prior to the matches starting, U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William Bowers, commanding general of MCIPAC, spoke to the Marines emphasizing the importance of the event. After his speech, Bowers took a rifle, aimed downrange, and shot the traditional first shot to kickoff the event.
“You Marines are carrying on a tradition that is over 100 years old in the Marine Corps,” said Bowers. “This competition drives home why marksmanship is so important to our warrior ethos as Marines.”
“That kind of dynamic shooting is important to know as a Marine." Lance Cpl. Brain Valdas, H&S administrative specialist
To prepare participants for the intramural matches, marksmanship coaches, with H&S, instructed them to shoot Marine Corps Rifle Qualifications Table one and two. The marksmanship coaches then divided the training into four different ranges; two rifle ranges and two pistol ranges, one of each focusing on movement and the other on stationary fire.
“This kind of shooting isn't something that every Marine gets to do,” said Lance Cpl. Brain Valdas, an administrative specialist with H&S and a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. “I have always had an interest in shooting, even before the Marine Corps, and this competition is a great opportunity for me to become more proficient in both a rifle and pistol.”
As the week continued, drills became more challenging to test the ability of the participants. The competitors were instructed to fire at an unknown distance, and learn how to maneuver switching from a pistol to rifle.
“Switching between pistol and rifle shooting is the most valuable skill to learn for me,” said Valdas. “That kind of dynamic shooting is important to know as a Marine. It has helped me become proficient with my reloads and control my heart rate while shooting.”
Beginning on December 14, participants will learn the course of fire and begin the intramural matches competition. Throughout the week Marines will need to gather all the skills they have been taught this week to win the competition.