Marines gather to shoot Eastern Division Matches

7 Apr 2016 | Cpl. Mark Watola Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Marines from the Eastern Seaboard, the Central Intelligence Agency and British Royal Marines gathered to put their marksmanship skills to the test during the Eastern Division Shooting Matches at Stone Bay Rifle Range on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune March 24.

Competitors fired the M16A4 and M4 service rifles and M9 service pistol in the 10-day competition aiming to be the best shot in addition to improving on their shooting skills.

During the competition, competitors are able to improve on the basics of shooting: sight alignment and sight picture, breath control, trigger control, stability, eye relief, stock weld and follow-through.

"The big principle for division matches are the instruction with teaching them the fundamentals of marksmanship," said Staff Sgt. Mark Altendorf, head coach of the Marine Corps rifle team. "I enjoy watching all the Marines get better, more proficient at what they’re doing, getting better at fundamentals and taking that back to their units and training at their level."

Improving the basic fundamentals of marksmanship carries over into the survivability of a Marine while in a combat situation.

"They can take the fundamentals and then apply that toward combat marksmanship," said Altendorf. "But before they can get high-speed and do combat marksmanship they need to have the base line of fundamentals. It’s mastering the fundamentals."

The competition is not only a way for Marines to hone their marksmanship skills, but a time to enjoy shooting and camaraderie with fellow competitors.

"We have kindly been invited over by the USMC shooting team," said British Royal Marine Lance Cpl. David Kent, a competitor on the Royal Marine combat shooting team. "It’s kind of an exchange program that we’ve got going on. We come here and USMC shooting team comes over and shoots our competition."

Through competition, the bond of U.S. Marines and Royal Marines grew as each shooter learned more about the rifle marksmanship.

"We enjoyed taking the lessons we learned in marksmanship," said Kent. "We do a lot of combat shooting and nothing but combat shooting. So it’s very different. It’s good getting back to basics. And you find that the combat shooting, when you get back, improves massively."

The competition course of fire for division matches is similar to annual rifle training and the pistol match follows a national match course of fire.

With the rifle from the 200-yard line, shooters fire 20 rounds in the standing for slow fire and then move on to the rapid fire. From standing to sitting, shooters fire one magazine of two rounds, reload and fire another eight in 60 seconds.

At the 300-yard line, shooters fire 10 rounds in the rapid fire in the prone. When shooters go back to the 500-yard line, they fire 20 rounds of slow fire in the prone.

For the pistol match, competitors fire 30 rounds from the M9 one-handed from 25 yards away. Ten rounds in slow, timed and rapid fire: 10 minutes, 20 seconds and 10 seconds respectively.

When competitors go back to their units, they take back the knowledge they have gained from the competition and can help teach their Marines how to improve in marksmanship.