Competition helps Depot Marines hone marksmanship skills
By Master Sgt. Janice M. Hagar
| | February 27, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
More than 40 Marines took a shot at enhancing their marksmanship skills during the annual Depot Competition in Arms Program held at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The shooting competition was held Feb. 10-13, but the program began Jan. 26 when shooters arrived at Weapons Field Training Battalion for training by reviewing marksmanship fundamentals, stretching tight muscles by positioning themselves in various shooting positions as well as live fire practice.
"The purpose of DCIAP is two-fold," said Maj. Mark D. Mackey, operations officer for WFTBn. "First, it's to pass on shooting knowledge, and second to foster competition."
Once training was complete, the Marines were ready to put their skills to the test. The competition featured individual and team events with the M-16 A2 service rifle and the 9mm pistol. The course for the individual and team rifle competition began at the 200 yard line where shooters had to fire 20 rounds in the standing position in 20 minutes. The next stage was rapid fire where shooters moved from a standing to sitting position, firing 10 rounds in 60 seconds. The shooters then moved back to the 300 yard line for another stage of rapid fire moving from standing to prone, then headed to the 500 yard line where they fired 20 rounds in 20 minutes in the prone position.
After two days of firing the rifle, it was time for individual and team pistol competition. Shooters remained at the 25 yard line for three stages of firing. The clincher for this course was shooters could only fire using one hand on the pistol.
Even though the course of firing was tough, the biggest challenge during this year's DCIAP was Mother Nature.
"The winds were the most challenging part of the competition," said Mackey. "There were 20 plus mph winds consistently. That challenges any shooter - no matter what their level of shooting is." Mackey added everyone was exposed to the same wind conditions, no matter what relay they fired. He also felt despite the wind disadvantage, shooters learned something by dealing with the harsh conditions.
Once the competition was finished, there was still one more firing stage in the program. The Marines fired the annual rifle requalification course.
"We have them fire the sustainment course and use that as a measuring stick to see how the Marines have improved their scores," said Mackey.
It may seem like only expert shooters can participate in the DCIAP, but according to Mackey, that's not the case.
"Anyone can shoot in the program," said Mackey. "In fact, we encourage those who are not expert shooters to come and participate so they can enhance their marksmanship skills. The training here is more detailed, more focused. The targets we're shooting at are smaller, so you must apply the fundamentals more proficiently in order to hit the target more consistently."
The DCIAP started in 1999 and Mackey would like to see the program continue to grow.
"It's for unit gain, not individual gain," said Mackey. "In most circles in the Marine Corps, a 3rd class (physical fitness test) score is unacceptable, but when a Marine shoots a marksman score, it's considered okay. I'd like to see people working with their Marines to improve their rifle scores, just like their PFT scores, especially if they are consistent marksman."
The next shooting competition is just around the corner. The Western Division Shooting Matches begin March 15. Mackey, a member of the MCRD San Diego Shooting Team, is hoping to field a team of 40 shooters for this year's competition.
"Shooters do not need to have participated in DCIAP to shoot at the Western Division Matches," said Mackey. Marines interested in competing in the Western Division Matches should contact their unit training office.