MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
“Every Marine a rifleman” is a quote all Marines know. Once a year, Marines head to the rifle range to re-qualify for their respective marksmanship rankings, but for some, once a year just isn’t enough.
For Marines wanting to test their skills or simply desiring another chance to get their hands on a weapon, there’s the Competition-in-Arms Program.
The Competition-in-Arms Program is a yearly event where shooters have the opportunity to compete in rifle and pistol matches in order to test their skills against others. Shooters spend approximately three weeks on the range undergoing classes, live-fire practices and a preliminary round.
Following the preliminary round, there are two individual-match days followed by a team-match day and ending with an award ceremony, according to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wesley Turner, the chief range officer and battalion gunner for Weapons Training Battalion.
According to Turner, the goal of the CIAP is to increase the marksmanship proficiency, skills and confidence of each competitor with the rifle and small arms in order to help them as competitors and instructors in their organizations.
“I think the CIAP fosters camaraderie, competition and makes the participant’s better shooters,” said Turner. “Also the Marines participating gain skills and knowledge that they can take back to their units to make them better Marine riflemen.”
The competition is open to all military service members and civilians, but they must sit through all the classes the Marines do and pass a weapons handling test.
Many of the Marines competing in the CIAP vouched for that sentiment as the majority of them had never even handled a pistol before the competition.
“It’s a lot of fun, but really challenging,” said Cpl. Mathew Gardner, a mechanic with Combat Logistics Battalion 8, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “There are a lot of good shooters out here and I’m doing the pistol range for the first time so it’s really a great learning experience.”
Even experienced shooters noticed the difference between the CIAP and the traditional firing range.
”It’s all about the individual shooter and putting everything they’ve learned to use,” said Staff Sgt. Payton Bradshaw, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 27.
According to Sgt. Jeffrey Sabins, a block safety non-commissioned officer with Weapons Training Battalion, CIAP gives people who’ve never shot competition before a chance to go up against really experienced shooters and see how they compare.
“The only way to get better at shooting is to shoot,” said Sabins.
In the end, the CIAP is a great way for Marines to test themselves on basic marksmanship skills and show their fellow marksmen the quote “every Marine a rifleman” is as true as their aim.