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Story by Lance Cpl. Alexander Mitchell
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force took part in a new course designed for 9 mm pistol qualifications held at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Jan. 7, 2014. The new course includes targets that resemble a more accurate version of an enemy, shorter firing sections and holstering your weapon after performing mechanical evaluations of the pistol.
Before engaging the target, Marines draw their pistol from the holster, aim down range and fire. Once completed, they perform a magazine check to ensure rounds are loaded, pull the slide back to check the chamber for the next round, put the weapon on safe and holster their pistol for the next course of fire.
“Marines can assess the situation while the weapon is holstered and engage and fire when the time comes,” said Cpl. Dylan Fitzgerald, a combat marksmanship coach with 8th Communication Battalion and native of Middletown, Connecticut. “This type of course focuses on real-world scenarios where your pistol will be holstered before an engagement occurs.”
While in combat, Marines usually have their pistol holstered and rifles at the ready. During a time of need to use their pistol, Marines need to be confident in removing it fast and firing quick and accurate shots to eliminate potential risks.
“Teaching Marines to acquire the target quicker and with accuracy while maintaining speed and efficiency helps build upon personal readiness and confidence in pistol marksmanship skill,” 1st Lt. William Keller, 2nd Law Enforcement Detachment Commander, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Practicing these techniques is geared toward combat scenarios in which a Marine might be involved in.”
Rather than focusing on shooting at a target and reloading when need be in an extended amount of time, the new pistol course, much like tables two and three of the rifle range, focuses on accurate and timely shots that are geared toward combat scenarios. This connection can help Marines maintain confidence and readiness during high-speed moments.
“This new range parallels with knowledge and tactical abilities of table two and table three of the rifle range,” said Keller, an Erie, Pennsylvania native. “In the old course we focused on reloads heavily, but with the new course we are now drawing from a holster and employing techniques to actually conduct threat assessment.”
The new target in the course resembles a human form with facial features and a bare chest to properly see the anatomy when performing shooting drills. The scoring system is still present, but no shapes or hip girdle are shown. Marines can see a target down range looking back at them and conduct tactical engagement while performing proper weapon control and mechanic checks.
“Looking at a target that has features of a person helps with realism, rather than just squares and circles,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Reynolds, a Human Intelligence Officer with 2nd Intelligence Battalion and native of Houston. “Marines can identify target areas of the body and engage in a more tactical manner. You must be able to see the target, present your weapon and fire.”