CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Three Marines kneel next to each other, waiting for the order to move. When it comes, the Marines spring into action sprinting for the nearest cover. Within seconds the distinctive sound of the M4 carbine fills the air as the three-man team begins methodically dropping targets.
Marines and Sailors with the scout sniper platoon, and the personal security detachment of Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted an unknown distance shooting competition, August 17.
The competition consisted of multiple rounds, each with different challenges.
Round one: Each team consisted of three Marines with 20 rounds each. The teams engaged 59 pop-up targets, of varying distances, in a time limit of 60 seconds. They were required to shoot at least five rounds in each of the three different shooting positions, standing, kneeling and prone.
Round two: The teams went head-to-head in an elimination round, paired by their performance in the first round, engaging the 59 targets in a shortened time of 45 seconds. All competitors were again required to fire from the three different shooting positions.
At the end of round two, a team of scout snipers emerged victorious.
“I think that anytime you put Marines against each other, it brings out the best in them, it pulls out their competitive spirit and pushes them to be the best,” said Sgt. Michael Truax, the chief scout for the scout sniper platoon, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU.
Many of the Marines felt they were able to get more involved and have more fun while training through the competition.
“We get more engaged when it’s a competition because we’re ‘grunts’ and this is what we do,” said Lance Cpl. Ethan M. Ehrhart, a squad leader with H&S Co., BLT 2/7, 31st MEU.
Ehrhart went on to say the competition was also a good way to get faster and more efficient at shooting their weapons.
The team that won the competition was awarded a pizza by their staff non-commissioned officers, but that’s not what the Marines were competing for.
“None of these guys care about the prize,” said Truax. “It’s all about earning the bragging rights and being able to say you’re team was the best.”
While the competition was a fun and different way to train, it was still valuable to the participants.
“Any time you’re under a time limit it’s going to add a level of stress that’s not there when you’re just doing regular training,” said Truax.
Adding unknown distances and time limits are two examples of how Marines attempt to make a training environment more realistic. Experiencing situations similar to those faced deployed, helps prepare the Marines for the future.
As the event came to a close, some Marines left with bragging rights, but all left with more experience that strengthens the 31st MEU.
“It went really well,” said Truax. “Everybody was motivated to compete and do better than the Marine to their left and right, and it was a good way to bring everyone together.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.