CAMP PENDLETON — The single, well-aimed shot is key to shooting expert on the rifle range. Many units have recently made the switch from traditional iron-sights to the rifle combat optic, or RCO. With this new technology comes new training for leathernecks.
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s Headquarters and Support Battalion is one of many units who have upgraded from iron sights to the RCO in an attempt to help Marines perform better on the rifle range – which ultimately better prepares them for combat. According to Marine administrative message 592/10 the battalion’s Combat Marksmanship Trainers are the subject matter experts for combat marksmanship training within their unit.
“It’s great the battalion is now using the RCOs along with the new M16A4 service rifles,” said Lance Cpl. Travis L. Toot, marksmanship coach, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “The targets are easier to identify, and the Marine Corps is moving toward this new technology and we’re training to the same standards as an operational unit.”
The annual training includes a grass week where Marines are re-taught the fundamentals of marksmanship. The week after, Marines are sent to apply those techniques to earn their score on the range.
“The target is much easier to see when using the RCO since it is magnified four times,” said Lance Cpl. Javier Medina, administrative clerk, Alpha Company, HQSPT Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “The lines on the inside of the optic help you make adjustments by repositioning your body, which helps you take better shots.”
One of the biggest changes Marines have noticed in this new equipment is using offset aiming, commonly referred to as Kentucky windage, exactly what they were taught not to do when using iron sights.
“The difference between the iron sights and the combat optic is that you don’t use the adjustment knobs after getting your battle sight zero (or BZO,)” said Toot. “Your first shots are used to determine whether you should counter the wind by shifting to the left or to the right,” added Toot.
Another new addition to the weaponry is referred to as a broomstick, an attachment placed in the middle of the hand guard to improve stability and only authorized for table 2, the combat shooting portion, designed to be used as a handle for the combat shooting portion of the test.
“I used to grab the magazine when I was firing on [the combat shooting portion],” said Medina. “The broomstick is further forward which really helps when you are aiming in with the weapon.”
Every Marine is a rifleman, and with the assistance of the new RCO, it helps U.S. Marines maintain the title as the world’s most elite fighting force, said Toot.