MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Before Marines deploy to a combat zone, they undergo months of rigorous preparation for any possible enemy confrontation. A good deal of this training consists of rifle or pistol proficiency, but the usual firing ranges aren’t enough. When Marines make their way through hostile territory, seldom will the enemy be standing still and not returning fire, waiting for the Marines to assume a good prone position.
In 2007, the Marine Corps implemented a new step in the rifle qualification process – that of intermediate combat rifle marksmanship training. This firing regimen, the Table III rifle qualification, which brings the basic combat rifle marksmanship training one step further, is what Marines of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, took part in aboard the Hathcock Range at Stone Bay, May 18 and 19.
“This is a great training evolution for us in the rear,” said Sgt. Justin Davis, training noncommissioned officer for Company I, HQSPTBN, MCB Camp Lejeune. “Although not all of us shooting here these two days are deploying soon, it gets us that much more familiar with handling the rifle.”
An extension of the Table II portion of a Marines’ annual rifle marksmanship training, Table III furthers the combat shooting foundation in a variety of ways. Instead of standing still while shooting a variety of three-shot combinations, the Marine engages targets on the move and from various angles, bringing the firing range a bit more to what they may face on deployment.
“For me, it’s helping me shoot better with both eyes open to acquire a quicker target,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Page, pay clerk with the Disbursing Office, HQSPTBN, MCB Camp Lejeune. “Table III is a great addition following Table II, helping more with close-quarters encounters.”
Shooters start at a 25-yard line, eventually performing forward movement drills to a 15, 10 and five-yard line, executing hammer pairs and failure-to-stop drills along with pivoting exercises. After the 10-round battlesight zero acquirement, Marines fire a total of 50 rounds each, eventually plotting their hits on a score sheet. While the Table III portion of the range is graded on a number of hits and misses, it results in either a pass or fail grade as opposed to the conventional marksman, sharpshooter and expert qualifications. However, failing Table III results in failing the entire range.
“Even for the Marines not deploying, the idea is for them to be fully qualified with their stock weapon,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Eilmes, operations chief for HQSPTBN, MCB Camp Lejeune. “When you go through Tables I and II, you shoot in static positions. Table III is shot with known-distance targets as well, but it gives you the familiarity of shooting while moving, which is important to be comfortable with in today’s combat zone.”
Another stipulation of Table III is that, unlike Tables I and II, gunnery sergeants, chief warrant officer threes and majors and above are not exempt from qualifying.
“This used to only be a pre-deployment requirement, but it helps the Marines more to fire Table III regardless,” said Davis. “They will be better prepared when they eventually do deploy because they’ll be able to handle their rifle more comfortably.”
Being familiar with one’s rifle in a combat zone is not only expected of every Marine, but the more accustomed one is with his rifle, the more lives he saves.