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NEWS | June 18, 2015

Battalion Landing Team Marines Conduct Weapons Training at Sea

By 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

Waking up to the sight of the sun rising on the distant horizon over the vast waters of the Pacific ocean might be a paradise for some, but for Marines embarked on a U.S. Navy vessel at sea, it is just another opportunity to sight in on their weapons and fire rounds down range.

In the early morning light, the Marines and sailors of Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted several combat marksmanship program ranges on the deck of the USS Ashland (LSD 48), June 12-13.

The CMP course of fire requires the Marines to engage targets from a variety of positions, using several different scenarios. From the kneeling to the standing position, to even having to turn around to engage their targets, the CMP range forced the Marines to go beyond the fundamentals taught on the rifle range.

While this might not be the first time some of the Marines have been tasked with a deck shoot while afloat, there are still challenges they all have to face.

“Shooting on the ship is a little different than it is on land, because while the ship is rocking you are trying to maintain your balance and sometimes you have to take an extra second to keep your aim on the target,” explained Lance Cpl. Christian Shattuck, a native of Parkville, Missouri, and a rifleman with Echo Co., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU. “You have the ocean in the background and sometimes, depending on the time of day, you have the sunlight reflecting off of the water and it can blind you and make it more challenging to see your target.”

Although constant training with their weapons may sometimes seem repetitive, Cpl. Dylan Cole, a squad leader with Echo Co., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, knows there is value in ensuring all of his Marines are up to par with their infantry skills.

“Our job in the infantry is a very perishable skill, and if you don’t practice it daily then you’ll forget things,” said Cole, a native of Jefferson City, Missouri. “The way I see it is the enemy we might be facing isn’t taking a day off, so we shouldn’t be able to take a day off either. We should be the best at everything that we do, and we need to practice that every single day.”

With the thought of success for his Marines in mind, Cole understands how shooting on the ship will improve proficiency.

“Obviously the ship rocking back and forth will create an unstable platform, so honestly it might seem worse but it is actually better for you,” explained Cole. “Because if you can shoot a perfect score while standing on a moving platform, then you have a better chance of shooting a perfect score on a stable platform. This is actually training them to a higher standard, which will help them out in the long run. And as an entire company, I feel that if anything were to happen we would be fully prepared to accomplish the mission
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