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Shooting Drills Help Marines Sharpen Skills

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan, Jan. 27, 2010 – With large packs and complete sets of personal protective equipment, Marines from Headquarters and Service Company of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, arrived at the makeshift rifle range here Jan. 23 under rain-threatening clouds.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, fire rounds at a target while at the rifle range on Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Jan. 23, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"There's going to be a lot of pivoting and shooting, facing away from the target and turning around very quickly; usually engaging the target with two shots at a time," said Marine Corps Cpl. Sandro Ola, a field radio operator. "It's very quick and to the point."

The drills also consisted of firing while moving toward the target, reloading rifles quickly and correcting weapon malfunctions while under pressure.

Ola, from Anchorage, Alaska, said he thinks the firing drills will benefit the Marines who will be working with Afghan soldiers to conduct counterinsurgency operations in southern Helmand province.

"It's very crucial that we have this training," he said, “[so that] when we have the opportunity to take that shot, we know when to take it and when not to take it."

The drills consisted of two separate shooting sessions, one during the day and the other at night. During the night-fire portion, Marines used night-vision goggles and laser-aiming devices to help them see their targets.

"The more training they have with their gear and [optics] and everything, the more comfortable they are when it comes to the real thing," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. William Hart, who’s in charge of the range.

The Marines agreed that repetitive training is a key element for combat readiness.

"The whole point … [is] to get you used to moving around and shooting with your rifle," said Marine Corps Pfc. Joseph Attaway, an administrative clerk from Statesboro, Ga. "Whenever the time comes when you have to shoot, you just do it out of habit."

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde serves in the 1st Marine Division’s Regimental Combat Team 7 public affairs office.)

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