Marksmanship Training Keeps Marines on the Target

QUANTICO, Va. - Each year thousands of Marines spend two weeks training at rifle ranges throughout the Corps and fire weapons they will carry into combat. Few of them realize, as they peer down the sights and squeeze the trigger that they are using techniques developed by a unique organization here at Marine Corps Schools.

This organization, Marksmanship Training Unit of Weapons Training Battalion, is established to evaluate and improve marksmanship techniques and equipment for all Marines.

Marksmanship Training Unit is composed mainly of officers and staff noncommissioned officers - the majority of whom have earned assignment to the unit by marksmanship proficiency.

Marines who qualify in local competition may fire in Marine Corps' Division Matches. The quest shooters in each of the four Divisional Matches then compete in Marine Corps Matches to try for positions on the Marine Corps' Rifle and Pistol Team. Later the Marine Corps Team participates in the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. From this team a number of new shooters are assigned to the Marksmanship Training Unit here.

NAMES SUCH as Capt. William W. McMillan, Olympic gold Medal winner; WO Emmett Duncan, holder of three National Match records; WO James E. Hill, Olympic Silver Medal winner; and Sgt. David A. Luke, winner of the 1962 National Service Rifle Championship, are listed on the rolls of Marksmanship Training Unit.

The weapons used by the unit in match competition are conditioned to the point of near perfections. The greatest problem in getting a weapon in "match condition" is making its parts remain in the same position while round after round is fired. To achieve this, rifle stocks are treated with a steel compound to insure that they will not warp in the slightest; firing mechanisms are reconditioned; moveable rear sights are geared to "one-half minute clicks."

Each "one-half minute click," or adjustment of the sight - made to counter effects of wind or weather - moves the strike of the bullet on the target one-half inch for each 100 yards of range of distance from the target.

TO ENSURE that Marine marksmen received full benefits of their research, the unit maintains a number of men to work on instructor control teams. As new range techniques are developed, these teams go to various Marine Corps ranges to help teach new shooting concepts.

Most of the men in the unit "wear two hats." They carry out regular duties (those contributing to organizational function and normal everyday work of the outfit such as instruction of training classes and compiling shooting statistics) and also fire in match competition.

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