CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
In an organization where every Marine is a rifleman, service members need adequate facilities to maintain proficiency in using their weapon systems. On Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marines from all over the East Coast, and a team of British Royal Marines Commandos from the United Kingdom, were challenged physically and mentally while competing in the 2023 Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition-East. This annual competition allows Marines to enhance their lethality through learning, training, and competing with one another over its two-week span. This year, the competition registered 176 competitors from 15 East Coast bases and stations.
Marines underwent two weeks of training and competition for the event, including classroom instruction, dynamic target engagement, individual marksmanship practice, annual qualifications, individual and team competitions, and a new optional night competition event to further every participant's capability behind a weapon. In addition to the variety of classes and events, competitors had the unique opportunity of being taught and evaluated by Marine Corps Shooting Team members throughout the two weeks.
"I have taken away a lot from this short time we have been here so far," said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Justin Reyna, a Marine Corps community service Marine with Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. "In boot camp, they teach you the fundamentals of shooting. Here, they have built on that and created a new foundation and really fine-tuned the things they teach you in boot camp, making it easier to shoot and giving not just me but other people confidence in their shooting abilities."
"I enjoy being in shooting competitions," said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Martinez, a competitor instructor with the Marine Corps Shooting Team. "Everyone at this competition is here because they want to be here, and they want to make themselves better."
Each competitor and team can win an award during the competition. The top teams will be able to compete against top teams from across the Marine Corps at the final Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition at MCB Quantico later this year.
Using ranges like those on MCB Camp Lejeune helps prepare competitors by allowing them to fire at human-shaped targets representing enemy threats and receive instruction from highly trained coaches and experienced shooters.
"In boot camp, they teach you the fundamentals of shooting. Here, they have built on that and created a new foundation and really fine-tuned the things they teach you in boot camp, making it easier to shoot and giving not just me but other people confidence in their shooting abilities." U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Justin Reyna, a Marine Corps community service Marine with Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
Maintaining and upkeeping the ranges creates an environment where a shooter can focus on refining their skills. The Marines on these ranges take pride in their role as coaches, ensuring the safety of everyone on the range. Distributing ammunition, repairing targets, and providing guidance to those who need it are just a few of the Marines' efforts to ensure the ranges' success and effectiveness.
"We have the best ranges," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kieran Montgomery, a combat marksmanship coach with Weapons Training Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune. "All of the range personnel, we know what we are doing and how each range works. We make sure to take care of our ranges, whether that's mowing the lawn, ensuring every barricade is good, even target maintenance because we want people to come out and use our ranges."
The annual Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition-East is one of many ways the ranges on MCB Camp Lejeune help create an organization full of capable and experienced warfighters. It isn't only Marines utilizing the ranges either- the team of British Royal Marines Commandos participates in the competition every year and even had one of their own earn an award this year in the night shooting competition.
This year's Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition-East winners came from all over the East Coast. The top shooter with the highest combined score with rifle and pistol, making him the winner of the Marine Corps Marksmanship Competition-East's Gunners Trophy, was Sgt. Mitchell McSherry from Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company. The individual rifle champion was Staff Sgt. Tyler Troendle from Weapons Training Battalion School of Infantry-East, and the individual pistol champion was Sgt. Mitchell McSherry from Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company. The top rifle teams came from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, and Infantry Training Battalion-East on MCB Camp Lejeune. The top pistol team was from Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company Team 1.
"Marines pride themselves in their ability to shoot, yet you rarely see someone wearing these badges," said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Parker Tomasi, the operations officer with Weapons Training Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune. "These types of competitions shouldn't be the best-kept secret in the Marine Corps. This is where you earn these badges. It validates what Marines can do, and it gives them confidence, and with that confidence comes growth."