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Headquarters Marine Corps

Marksmanship tips from the pros: ‘It’s all about the basics’

By Pfc. Christofer P. Baines | Headquarters Marine Corps | July 20, 2010

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Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, gets ready to load a second magazine into his M16 national match rifle during a rapid fire session at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs.

Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, gets ready to load a second magazine into his M16 national match rifle during a rapid fire session at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs. (Photo by Pfc. Christofer P. Baines)


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Sgt. David Hunter, a marksmanship coach from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team fires a round during a practice session in preparation for a competition at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs.

Sgt. David Hunter, a marksmanship coach from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team fires a round during a practice session in preparation for a competition at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs. (Photo by Pfc. Christofer P. Baines)


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Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, takes a solid standing position as he aims in during his preparation time at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs.

Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, takes a solid standing position as he aims in during his preparation time at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs. (Photo by Pfc. Christofer P. Baines)


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Sgt. David Hunter, a marksmanship coach from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, makes ready as he prepares to fire his M16 national match rifle at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs.

Sgt. David Hunter, a marksmanship coach from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, makes ready as he prepares to fire his M16 national match rifle at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs. (Photo by Pfc. Christofer P. Baines)


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Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, lays in the prone position as he aims in during his preparation time at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs.

Cpl. Jared Litke, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, lays in the prone position as he aims in during his preparation time at the rifle range aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 14, 2010. The Marine Corps Shooting Team is made up of some of the Corps’ best shots and competes nationwide, as well as establishing a cadre of experienced marksmen to pass knowledge to the next generation of devil dogs. (Photo by Pfc. Christofer P. Baines)


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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The phrase “every Marine a rifleman” can be attributed to the level of skill a Marine possesses with a rifle. Not everyone is born a rifleman, but with proper training, a Marine marksmanship instructor can transform someone who has never fired a weapon into an expert shooter.

Members of the Marine Corps Shooting Team apply all of the fundamental s of marksmanship they learned during recruit training on a daily basis.

Practical application of the basics is critical to consistently shoot well, said Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Kretzing, a small arms weapons instructor with Weapons Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Success on the range incorporates everything Marines learn during marksmanship classes, including sustainment of key principles prior to sending rounds downrange, he added.

Marksmanship is all about sharing knowledge, said Gunnery Sgt. James Otto, a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team. The current marksmanship doctrine is based off of the lessons learned  from the Corps’ finest marksmen and their competitive experience, where the fundamentals are practiced in the purest form.

The best way to improve your score on the rifle range is quite simple; just stick to the basics and have confidence in yourself and your weapon, he said.

“The main thing Marines foul up when shooting is not focusing on the front sight and just not applying all of the fundamentals of marksmanship,” Otto said. “Another thing is lack of time spent with the weapon, which affects confidence, and some Marines don’t take snapping-in seriously.”

Otto also said a few useful techniques while on the range include keeping it simple, applying the basics, believing in yourself and remembering that the coach is there for a reason.

Marksmanship tips from the Marine Corps Shooting Team:

Maintain proper sight alignment and sight pictureFocus on the front sight postMaintain proper stock weld and eye reliefKnow your battle sight zero and make proper adjustmentsKnow your natural point of aim and maintain itPractice proper trigger pull (slow, steady squeeze)Control your breathingDo not anticipate the shotTake advantage of snapping-in timeMake a mental checklist for snapping-in, so it becomes second natureOne miss isn’t the end of the worldIf you think you need help with anything, talk to your coach


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