Face of Defense: Marine Shooter Earns Spot on Team USA
By Andrew Revelos
Marine Corps Base Quantico
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Dec. 28, 2010 A Marine who barely qualified on the rifle range in boot camp will compete in an international shooting competition next year.
Marine Corps Sgt. Emily Windmassinger checks the sights on her Palma match rifle at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Dec. 14, 2010. Windmassinger was selected as a member of the U.S. team that will compete in October at the 2011 international Palma rifle matches in Brisbane, Australia. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Andrew Revelos
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Sgt. Emily Windmassinger of the Marine Corps Rifle Team earned a spot with the USA Young Eagle Rifle Team. In October she’ll travel to Brisbane, Australia, to compete in the 2011 Palma World Long Range Championship matches.
As a member of Team USA in the under 25 category, known as the Young Eagles, Windmassinger will shoot in the team and individual competitions.
“I think it’s such an awesome opportunity not only for me but for the Marine Corps,” she said. “For a long time we’ve had the tradition of being the best marksmen on and off the battlefield. Now I get to carry on that tradition at an international level … and show the world what a well-disciplined Marine looks like.”
Windmassinger said she wasn’t a very good rifle shot during boot camp and that her new-found shooting ability has come as a surprise to her. She first attended a shooting match when assigned to Marine Corps Support Activity in Kansas City. The Loves Park, Ill., native went to the match with her husband Mark, a Marine and competitive shooter. Another participant gave her a chance to shoot and she earned a high score. Four years later, the Windmassingers are both members of the Marine Corps Shooting Team.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It all happened really fast. I started doing Palma matches this year. Things just started to make sense for me in August. I met up with the Young Eagles at the [2010 Spirit of America Fullbore Rifle Prone Championship].”
Kelly Bachand, a coach for the Young Eagles who gained national attention as a contestant in the History Channel program “Top Shot,” asked Windmassinger to join the team for the international Palma match.
The Palma rifle matches date back to the 1876 centennial celebration when members of the National Rifle Association invited rifle teams from Australia, Canada, Ireland and Scotland to a long range rifle competition. Since then Palma matches have become one of the world’s best known long-range rifle competitions.
During the team match, shooters fire a total of 45 recorded rounds -- 15 each at the 800, 900 and 1,000-yard lines. All shooters compete with 7.62 x 51 mm NATO rifles fitted with aperture sights.
“A lot of people think of those distances as very far, but the shooting fundamentals are the same whether you’re at the 200 yard line or back at the 1,000,” Windmassinger said. “If you apply the fundamentals correctly and you read the wind you’re going to be fine.”
Shooting Team officer-in-charge Marine Corps Capt. Donald Traves is creating a Palma team from members of the rifle team who will compete at national-level matches. His goal is to add a measure of battlefield-like realism to his shooters’ skill set.
“If you’re in Afghanistan up on a hill, you don’t know if [the enemy] is 500, 700 or 800 meters away; you’re making your best guess and trying to shoot at him,” Traves said. “You have to be able to read the wind and read where the round is going.
“I’m hopeful with what Sergeant Windmassinger is doing with Palma, and by creating a Palma team, it will bring us into what the operating forces are doing,” he continued. “It’s a huge accomplishment for us.”