Depot has strong showing in Western Division Rifle Matches
By Sgt. L. F. Langston
| | April 09, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
The 2004 Western Division Matches awards ceremony was held April 2 at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The individual rifle and pistol competition was held as a two-day event, March 30 and 31, and team competition commenced April 1.
Sgt. Raymond L. Browne, primary marksmanship instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif., earned recognition with a handful of medals and trophies for his accomplishments.
Browne won highest-scoring first-year novice tyro competitor in rifle and pistol. He won several badges that represent credit points toward distinguished shooting. He won his first gold badge for rifle for second place; he won his first silver badge for his second place pistol, and first for rifle and pistol team matches. Additionally, Browne received two Secretary of the Navy trophies, which were M-1 rifles for individual rifle and pistol matches.
"The pool of talent that comes to this competition is huge," said Browne. "I've learned so many things."
Learning from competition veterans, Browne asked various competitors how they concentrated under pressure.
"I learned mental management," Browne said. "I took the simple process of shooting and took each shot as an individual shot (instead of a course of fire)."
In team competition, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego took first place in both rifle and pistol, earning the San Diego Trophy and the Holcomb Trophy.
For the second time, Edson Range hosted and supported the Western Division Matches and approximately 100 Marine and civilian competitors in both rifle and pistol competition.
The last time Edson Range hosted and supported the competition was in 1993 when torrential rainstorms washed out Wilcox Range. This year I Marine Expeditionary Force was unable to support the competition because of obligations in Iraq.
Marines were chosen by their commands to compete from their requalification scores, marksman training unit and intramural competition.
MCRD San Diego entered 33 shooters into the competition this year by way of intramural competition. The majority came from Weapons and Field Training Bn.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Garcia, the match executive officer tasked by Marine Corps Base to run the range, emphasizes the importance of the matches.
"Bottom line is you can't shoot in a combat environment if you can't shoot the fundamentals," Garcia said.
Marine Corps Order 3591.2J's, small-arms marksmanship competition, objective is to "enhance the marksmanship proficiency and combat readiness of the Marine Corps by developing and maintaining a population base of Marines with high skills in rifle and pistol marksmanship to serve as marksmanship instructors, scout snipers, coaches and range operation personnel."
Master Sgt. Carlos Butts, representing the Commandant of the Marine Corps for, Marine Corps Shooting Team Quantico, Va., agrees with Garcia's assertion of the value the competition brings to the Marines.
"We take the selection process from A to Z. We're the only ones who do that," said Butts. "The Marine Corps shooting program chooses their talent from volunteers. Its parallel is similar to Major League Baseball where they take their talent from the minor leagues, work with them and bring up to the majors."
The competition also involves civilians, and the high talent level among the shooters makes for stiff competition.
Civilian competitors must hold a National Rifle Association expert rating or at least six points toward the appropriate distinguished badge according to MCO 3591.2J.
Team matches consisted of one officer, one tyro; novice, enlisted, one sergeant or below and one other member. Included on the team was one coach, also eligible for a medal.
The top 10 percent who earned medals will be eligible to compete in the Marine Corps Shooting Championships in Stone Bay, MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C. this month.