USS Rushmore --
It would seem being deployed at-sea could make going to the pistol range difficult, but Marines aboard the USS Rushmore were able to shoot and sustain the important skill.
Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, were able to take advantage of the space available on the flight deck of USS Rushmore to conduct pistol marksmanship training, March 9. Using the 9mm M9 Beretta, each marksman went through an entire course of fire on the paper targets.
To keep Marines proficient in the application of the weapon in a tactical environment, the course of fire included multiple target engagements, moving and firing, standing and kneeling and tactical reloads up to 75 yards from the targets. Concentrating on fundamentals, the battalion afforded every BLT Marine embarked aboard the USS Rushmore the opportunity to fire.
“This is sustainment training, but also it allows those who haven’t shot to become familiar with the weapon system and ensures our equipment is working properly,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steve L. Bolton, battery gunnery sergeant, Battery B, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “If you don’t practice often, you lose fundamentals. The training ensures the fundamentals applied to the pistol are fresh in the Marines’ memory and that we’re prepared,” added the 39-year-old, Fort Collins, Colo., native.
The day’s firing was the first time many of the Marines had shot an M9. Although every Marine is a rifleman, only few are issued this lightweight, semi-automatic pistol, and the event allowed those who do not get it issued the chance to train with this close-quarters defensive weapon.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to shoot the M9,” said Lance Cpl. Flint Riesland, electric optical ordinance repair technician, Headquarters and Support Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “I enjoyed learning how the pistol shoots. It’s a nice change from the rifle, and now that I’ve had some trigger time in, I feel more confident firing the weapon. Everyone should have a chance at some point to shoot,” added the 26-year-old, Rapid City, S.D., native.
Many steps are taken to ensure the safety of the servicemembers participating before any Marine steps on the firing-line. The course of fire was reviewed with the Marines the day before the event. In addition, a weapons handing, safety and application brief was also conducted to ensure the comfort and protection of the Marines when they were ready to shoot the next day.
“On the day of shooting, we have one safety officer for every two shooters to make sure safety rules are adhered to,” said Sgt. Adam Scott, anti-tank missleman and primary safety officer, Combined Anti-Armor Team II, Weapons Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “We also conduct a safety brief before beginning. We review the scheme of maneuver, weapons safety rules, weapon conditions and answer any questions before starting,” added the 27-year-old, Rochester, Mich., native.
With the safety brief completed, the Marines prepared their weapons before their relays were called. They function-checked the pistols and loaded their magazines with 30 rounds per person and walked to the firing-line. After receiving instructions from the safety officer, they unholstered their weapons, pointed down range, took their weapons off safe and many, for the first, fired the M9 Beretta.
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.