PUCKAPUNYAL, Australia --
Much of the mystique of the Corps is built around the idea of Marines who push their bodies beyond physical limits on the training field and posses an unerring dedication to marksmanship.
It is only natural that Marines would be drawn to a competition that tested them in both areas.
Marine Shooting Detachment Australia, composed of 16 Marines from around the Corps, travelled here to participate in just such an event -- the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting 2011 (AASAM).
“I came here to compete with and learn from some of the best marksman in the world,” said Sgt. Jonathan Shue, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of machine shop, Marine Aviation Logistics Group 36, Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
AASAM, an annual competition, attracted experts from 13 nations to test their abilities in the field of combat marksmanship over a series of more than 100 events.
Many of the events incorporated physical challenges, from timed sprints to obstacles that needed to be traversed and all events included minimum gear weight requirements to replicate a combat load.
“We were always wearing a minimum of 17 pounds of gear and a fair amount of the courses included sprints or obstacles,” said Shue. “The physical aspect of the competition was very demanding.”
Combining physical fitness with traditional aspects of an international shooting match created a melting pot of techniques and ideas.
“When you are engaging yourself in physical activity, your heart rate is up, your breathing rate is elevated so you need to learn how to adapt your marksmanship skills to control those variables,” said Shue.
The physical aspects of the courses of fire created an engaging environment for participants and field-applicable practice that one Shue felt could benefit anyone going through combat training.
“The marksmanship applications that AASAM has come up with, from the barricades to the obstacle courses, have enhanced the training aspects of the shooting,” said Shue. “This type of shooting would greatly promote interest in Marine Corps marksmanship at any experience level.”
With much of the competition left to go, the Marines already had the feeling that the physical aspect of the courses improved their combat marksmanship and were eager to bring back what they had learned to share with their fellow Marines in the fleet.
“I would like to see more physical fitness aspects be introduced into Marine marksmanship training,” said Sgt. Joshua Martin, competitor, Combat Shooting Team, Weapons Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico. “There is simply not enough of it being included presently.”