MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The ethos “Every Marine a rifleman” is something that is ingrained into the minds of Marines.
The rifleman remains the most basic tenet of Marine Corps doctrine. All else revolves around him. Aviation, armor, artillery and all supporting arms and war-fighting assets exist to support the rifleman.
The skills of these riflemen will be put to the test during the greatest Marine Corps shooting events of the year: the Competition-In-Arms Program shooting matches, hosted by Weapons Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, which will begin Feb. 17 and run through April.
“The Competition in Arms Program is a program that’s been around since 1901 when the first Marine Corps Rifle Team was formed,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Pete Burns, the Marksmanship Training Unit Gunner, Weapons Training Battalion. “That’s when the Marine Corps started competing and they competed at the national level, and have almost every year since.”
The CIAP is broken down into the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Intramural Matches, Eastern Division Matches and the Marine Corps Championship Matches. Those who place in the Eastern Division Matches will compete in the championship matches, and those who show excelling skill in the championship, will be chosen for the Marine Corps shooting team to compete in the interservice and national levels.
“The first step on that road would be the intramural program,” said Burns. “It’s designed to introduce new competitors or shooters to the program and get them used to competing against others with the same positions, scoring system and yard lines that they would use in further competition. It’s the lowest level that a Marine might compete.”
The intramural matches will begin Feb. 17 through March 9. Competitive shooters do not have to participate in the intramural matches to participate in the Eastern Division Matches, which will be held March 19 through April 6.
Burns encourages interested Marines to participate, as long as their unit training and deployment schedules allow.
“Some Marines don’t see a correlation between combat-style shooting and competition shooting and that’s incorrect in my mind,” Burns said. “There is a correlation. They are not the same, but there are skills that can be learned during competition shooting that can transfer over to combat style shooting.”
Burns added that some of the benefits of participating for the whole three weeks of the competition include going back to their units being qualified with the rifle and the pistol, as well as becoming a qualified combat marksmanship coach.
Most importantly, participants are given the opportunity to become better shooters.
While the program is competitive in nature, it also gives participants the chance to learn and mentor each other.
“Everybody is doing their best. They’re learning, they’re listening and they’re watching what the other person does,” said Burns. “Everyone is honing their skills at the same time so everyone gets better, regardless of who wins and that’s the whole point of this program.”
Competitive shooters also have the opportunity to share what they’ve learned with their Marines when they go back their units.
“Let’s say someone spends 20 plus years in the Marine Corps and they started shooting competitively 15 years ago. That’s 15 years they’ve spread knowledge on marksmanship that they know beyond what the normal Marine would know on marksmanship,” said Burns. “They truly are a rifleman and they can pass on knowledge that other Marines can’t.”
To participate in the intramural matches next week, interested participants should contact the Weapons Training Battalion at 440-2702.
For more information, visit marines.mil/unit/mcblejeune/wtbn/Pages/WTBN%20S3.aspx.