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Where every Marine becomes a rifleman

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While all Marines are riflemen, not all of them arrive at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego with the skills necessary to handle the M-16 A4 service rifle. Recruits spent three weeks at Edson Range on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., learning the fundamentals of marksmanship.

On the second week, known as firing week, recruits of Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, spent applying the knowledge and techniques they learned the week prior November 27.

During the course of the first week, grass week, they were taught their skills by primary marksmanship instructors. A PMI is a Marine who has proved his proficiency in Marine Corps marksmanship and has gone through special training to earn his title. They teach recruits a variety of marksmanship fundamentals such as safety procedures, weapon conditions and shooting positions.

"The range has been strenuous and challenging," said Recruit Malik Johnson, Platoon 2174, Co. H, 2nd RTBn. "Learning how to shoot is like learning how to drill—they break it down into different parts and motions. You have to keep practicing, but it all comes together in the end."

Johnson, who had never shot a weapon before enlisting, was surprised by his performance.

"I'm doing really well and I'm proud of how good I'm shooting," said Johnson.

During firing week, PMI’s and range coaches assist recruits in reminding them to exercise the fundamentals they learned.

"It's very important to listen to your PMI and range coach," said Johnson. "I've learned that to be a good shooter you have to be able to relax and control your breathing. You can't over think it; you just have to stay calm and collected."

Not only does marksmanship training help recruits become more efficient with their rifle, but it also helps with the motivation within the company, according to Sgt. George Rodriguez, drill instructor, Plt. 2174, Co. H, 2nd RTBn.

"Being at the range helps the recruits’ motivation." said Rodriguez. "It also helps them gain more confidence as they learn and become better shooters."

During qualification day, recruits shoot 50 rounds from the 200, 300 and 500-yard-line in different shooting positions. In order to qualify and move forward in training they must shoot at least 190 points out of the 250 possible.

"So far they are doing really well," said Rodriguez. “They're working together and encouraging each other."

Article by Cpl. Liz Gleason, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego