CAMP PENDLETON — The old adage, “every Marine is a rifleman,” is taken seriously by the Marine Corps, reminding its Marines that regardless of their military occupational specialty, they all are riflemen first.
Recently Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element focused on refining their marksmanship skills at a familiarization fire range July 26 and July 27.
The shooters honed their skills by firing a modified Combat Marksmanship Program, as well as the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M14 Designated Marksman Rifle and the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle.
“Our goal here is to build confidence with the weapons the Marine Corps uses in combat,” said Capt. Garrett J. Exner, target information officer, 15th MEU.
The two-day evolution began by Marines getting their battle-sight zero with their issued M16A4 or M4 rifles. To properly attain their BZOs, the Marines fired two magazines of three rounds and one of four rounds from a distance of 36 meters.
The targets used at that distance are smaller than what shooters use during the qualification course. Between each iteration of fire, the Marines gained confidence in the application of marksmanship and learned to manipulate their sites effectively.
“The smaller targets used during a BZO exercise are smaller; however they simulate a Marine shooting at a regular-sized target from three hundred yards away,” said Exner, a 28-year-old native of Brookfield, Conn. “The goal for every shooter is to apply the fundamentals of Marine Corps marksmanship.”
The shooters adjusted their optics, depending on where the center of that shot group appeared, to achieve an accurate BZO. Once the BZOs were adjusted, the Marines moved on to the CMP.
For Cpl. Robert B. Moe, intelligence analyst, 15th MEU, the training was an excellent learning opportunity.
“The shoot was a great time,” Moe said. “Training like this really helps all the Marines get more comfortable with their weapon,” said the 21-year old native of Mukilteo, Wash.
Moe said his favorite part of the exercise was shooting the EMR and the DMR used by the Marine Corps.
“It is great to learn what these weapons are capable of,” he said. “The instructors were very knowledgeable about the rifles.”
Instruction on the various weapon systems were given by the 15th MEU’s armorers, Cpl. Sigilfredo C. Garcia and Sgt. Anthony L. Stoica.
“Not only are Marines afforded the opportunity to improve their marksmanship skills,” said Garcia, a 24-year-old native of Michoacán, Mexico. “They are also gaining a better perspective on the current weapon systems used in the Marine Corps.”
At the end of the evolution, the Marines walked away with a better understanding of the different weapon systems employed by the Marine Corps.
“I had a good time, and I’m so glad the Marines had an opportunity to do some weapons training,” said Cpl. Shawn A. Braly, mobile multi-channel radio operator, communications section, 15th MEU. “I learned a lot. I can’t wait to do it again,” added the 26-year-old native of Elbert, Colo.