Navy Competitive Shooting Season Starts Soon
The U.S. Navy Marksmanship Team (USNMT) is looking for new members to participate in Navy and inter-service rifle and pistol matches. All active-duty and reserve Sailors are welcomed and encouraged to participate.
"Sailors receive limited small arms training as they process through Navy Individual Augmentee Training at various U.S. Army training centers," said Cmdr. Mick Glancey, USNMT officer in charge. "All Sailors serving IA/GSA tours are issued a service rifle (M-16) or a service pistol (M9); some receive both prior to deployment. Small arms marksmanship is a basic fundamental skill set all our Sailors are required to possess."
The USNMT is the leading proponent of small arms marksmanship and safety training for U.S. Navy personnel. Each year, the team conducts the U.S. Fleet (Atlantic and Pacific) Rifle and Pistol Matches, where hundreds of Sailors are trained in service rifle and service pistol marksmanship. Sailors participating in fleet matches represent their commands in individual and team events, earn marksmanship medals and badges, and qualify to stand armed watches aboard ships and at other commands.
USNMT also conducts the annual All Navy (East and West) Rifle and Pistol Championships, in which the top 100 Sailors who have fired qualifying scores in fleet matches compete. As members of the rifle and pistol teams, the top 20 Sailors from each coast represent the Navy in the annual Inter Service Rifle and Pistol Matches where the "best of the best" come to compete from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. I/S Pistol Championships are held at Ft Benning, Ga., while the I/S Rifle Championships are held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. The Civilian Marksmanship Program's National Rifle and Pistol Matches and the National Rifle Association's National Rifle and Pistol Championships are held at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Both fleet matches begin with classroom and range training to familiarize shooters of all skill levels with safety and proper practices on the range as well as the fundamentals of marksmanship. Then the shooting starts. There are warm-up matches before the 1000-point rifle matches fired at distances of 200, 300 and 500 yards and the 1000 point pistol matches fired one-handed from 25 and 50 yards.
Competitors also shoot in both pistol and rifle excellence-in-competition (EIC) matches. EIC competitions are qualification matches in which competitors earn "leg points" toward the Distinguished Marksman and the Distinguished Pistol Shot badges.
"We want to get the word out to everybody," said Glancey. "We want more new shooters to come out and participate in the matches."
Lt. Rich Ray, 2012 East Coast match director, reports, "This year's theme is 'Train the new shooter.'"
Sailors do not have to be experienced shooters to benefit from competitive shooting nor do they even need to own firearms.
Throughout the match season, Naval Sea Systems Command Crane Division provides an armorer's van with match grade rifles, pistols, ammunition, and a workshop where a group of veteran gunsmiths build and maintain these precision firearms for Navy shooters. They even have all the small gear for matches like spotting scopes, shooting coats, mats, and folding stools used to carry gear up and down the 600-yard rifle range.
"Most shooters buy their own gear once they get involved in the sport, but if you don't already own the guns and gear, it's best to try competing before you buy, so you're sure of getting what you need," said Lt. Eric Palmer, West Coast match director, who got his start like most Navy shooters -- he heard about a match and decided he wanted to shoot. "Once you've shot for a while and are ready to buy your own equipment and guns, there are a lot of manufacturers that offer discounts to team members on rifles, ammunition, and just about everything else you need."
"We've had shooters shoot their whole careers with a van rifle," said Master Chief Utilities Constructionman Scott Hancock. "They just keep track of the rifle number and shoot the same one at every match."
One common area of confusion for Sailors wanting to shoot is how to join the team. It couldn't be easier. The Navy Marksmanship Team is not a commissioned unit of the Navy. It has no unit identification code and there are no billets. Team leadership is a collateral duty and team membership is entirely voluntary. The Navy team doesn't hire professional shooters like the Army Marksmanship Unit, and it doesn't have permanent change of station assignments like the Marine Corps team. It is made entirely of Sailors who love to shoot and want to compete.
Joining the Navy shooting team and shooting either of the Fleet matches is the same thing. Interested shooters need to read the annual message, announcing match dates and locations that came out recently and contact their commands to request orders to attend. The annual match announcement message and team details may be found at the team Web site www.usnst.org.
Depending on funding availability, active duty Sailors may have to pay some of their travel and messing expenses out of pocket.
"No-cost TAD orders are the norm," said Glancey. "However, our USMC friends at Quantico routinely provide free barracks out at Camp Upshur, open-bay style living, but it is free!"
Reservists can use any type or combination of orders with command approval. However, if funding is unavailable, some Reservists do have to come on unpaid annual training orders.
Article by Chief Mass Communication Specialist William Lovelady, Patrol Squadron 62 Public Affairs