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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
1st Marine Division Schools, JGSDF conduct shooting drills

By Lance Cpl. Ricardo Hurtado | | February 4, 2014


Marines with 1st Marine Division Schools and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted shooting drills as part of scout sniper training for Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. Jan. 29, 2014.

Iron Fist is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units, and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training.

The training included grouping and target identification practice from the 100-yard line, as well as shooting drills from the 300, 500, 600, 700 and 800-yard line with both still and moving targets. 

During grouping drills, instructors point out patterns in the group of shots to help shooters realize and correct deficiencies.

“If their group moves up and down, then that means they’re not controlling their breathing,” said a pre-scout sniper instructor, 1st Marine Division Schools. “If [the group] moves left and right, they need to work on trigger control.”

After addressing any deficiencies in their groups, shooters began target identification drills. The drills train shooters to think, shoot and reload quickly while under pressure.

“[The target identification drill] helps simulate hitting a specific target among a crowd making no mistakes,” said a pre-scout sniper instructor. “There’s no room for errors.”

Target identification drills are done with numbered, colored and shaped targets on a 7.5-by-11-inch paper.

The instructor calls a random number, color and shape and the shooters have only seconds to engage that specific target and reload before the next call is made.

A pre-scout sniper instructor said the drill is important because it trains shooters to accurately hit the correct target and prevent collateral damage in a real life situation.

The exercise concluded with shooting drills from distances up to 800 yards on moving targets to simulate combat situations scout snipers may encounter.

A pre-scout sniper instructor said knowing how to shoot is only a small portion of being a sniper.

“The fundamentals [for shooting] are the same, slow steady squeeze, breathing and muscle relaxation,” said the pre-scout sniper instructor.

Besides being able to shoot, factors like being in good physical condition, having discipline and being able to act and make decisions on your own play an important role when being a sniper, added the instructor.

Shooting training continues throughout the coming weeks and will incorporate more complex exercises such as stalking, which combines all the sniper training and tests what soldiers from the JGSDF have learned during Iron Fist.