Parris Island Rifle/Pistol Team sweeps tournament
By Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski
| | May 10, 2005
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, SC --
Fresh off of sweeping the competition at the Marine Corps Eastern Division Championship, the Parris Island Rifle and Pistol Team has once again shot its way to victory. The team won the Marine Corps Combat Infantry Trophy Team Match, part of the Eastern Division Championship, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C, April 29.Besides bringing home the team trophy, several individuals from the team stood out. Sergeant Jason Thompson, who is currently in Quantico, Va., with the Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team, earned a gold medal for rifle competition by having the highest non-distinguished shooter score. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mario Heikell, a distinguished shooter and officer in charge, Parris Island Rifle and Pistol Team, also won the coveted Lauchheimer Trophy, which is awarded to the competitor with the best over-all score."It's pretty satisfying," said Heikell. "The last time we swept the competition was in 2002, but before that, it was about twenty years."In order to prepare for the competition, the team actively trained from January through March, said Heikell, which included various small tournaments and intramural shoots. This type of training allowed the shooters to familiarize themselves with the courses of fire and to practice sending rapidly fired, but well-placed, shots down range.The competition itself was different from most other marksmanship competitions, foregoing slow-fire shooting altogether. The Combat Infantry Team match focused solely on rapid fire, with firing taking place from the 600-, 500- or 300-yard lines. During the competition, six shooters would line up on the firing line and shoot toward eight targets. A total of 384 rounds would be divided among the shooters, with the coach, Heikell, determining which shooters got more rounds and how many rounds would be fired from each distance."We had four 'straight away' shooters, who each fired on the target directly in front of them, and then we had 'swing shooters' who fired on the remaining two targets on each end," said Heikell.The shooters would only have 50 seconds at each distance to fire off as many rounds as they could. Any number of rounds could be fired at any distance, but shots from the 600-yard line were worth the most points."Ideally, you want to shoot all your rounds at the 600-yard line, but that's difficult to do in just fifty seconds," said Heikell.With each team member out shooting competition, the whole unit was able to come back aboard the Depot as victorious, but according to Heikell, the trophies are not the main reason they compete."The most important thing to me was that I was able to get these Marines to go from barely shooting expert, to some of them being able to shoot better than me," he said. "A lot of them are coaches and block NCOs on the range, so they can directly apply what they learn with the team to teaching recruits. It's kind of like riding a bike: you never forget. They may get a little rusty, but it will always be with them ... they will always be able to teach marksmanship."The team will now hopefully compete at the Inter-service Championship, where it will compete against teams from all other branches of service.