TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- United States Marines have not always been the precision shooters they are today. The history of Marine Corps competitive marksmanship began with the M1903 Springfield in the early 1900s. The Camp Pendleton Shooting Team intends to continue passing the competative marksmanship traditions to the new generation using the modern M16A4 Match Rifle.
Seven members of Camp Pendleton’s shooting team experienced a thrilling competition during a National Rifle Associations’ shooting match at Twentynine Palms’ known-distance firing range Nov. 17.
These Marines have been training to become precision shooters and rebuild Camp Pendleton’s Shooting Team.
The last time Camp Pendleton had an operational shooting team was about three years ago.
This past summer Sgt. Mark D. Windmassinger, 27, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Camp Pendleton Shooting Team, said he was approached by another Marine who wanted to start a shooting team. Windmassinger spoke to several Marines to generate interest for the team, which is when he found Lt. Crystal J. Sokoff, who is now the Camp Pendleton Shooting Team captain. Together Sokoff and Windmassinger rebuilt Camp Pendleton’s shooting team, which now has 13 members training to compete.
In competition marksmanship, shooters are provided with some resources that are not used for the annual training rifle qualification. Competitors are supplied with unique shooting jackets and non-slip, leather rifle slings that provide additional stability, and long-distance scouting scopes to sight shots at distances more than 600 yards.
Camp Pendleton’s shooting team practices precision shooting and continues to strive for excellence.
“In the Marine Corps, ‘hitting black’ will score you maximum points for a shot on a standard qualification,” said Lance Cpl. Enrique A. Ipina, the force preservation noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Support Battalion, who is talking about precision shooting by aiming center area on a target. “In a shooting match hitting black just isn’t good enough; you have to hit the center of black.”
The Camp Pendleton team was able to finish the competition here with a team match win and a few individual wins their first time competing as a team. The individual awards included top high master shooter, master shooter, standing, sitting and prone among others.
“Most of the time when you have a brand-new team, they tend to have a lot of issues with simple stuff such as gear set up and scoring,” said Windmassinger, who has more than 7 years of experience in competition shooting. “My Marines did phenomenal for their first time shooting as a team.”