News: 26th MEU Marines demonstrate pistol proficiency
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The hammer falls and the firing pin strikes the primer on the cartridge, sparking an explosion that sends the nine millimeter brass encased lead projectile down range. The bullet pierces the target causing a perforation in the paper silhouette.
This is what many Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit saw and felt as they qualified in pistol marksmanship April 10 and 11.
The MEU intends on arming duty non-commissioned officers in the near future and the NCO on duty will need to have a pistol qualification to carry a sidearm.
Maj. German E. Duarte, the assistant operations officer assigned to the 26th MEU, said “Being qualified with the pistol is important because we’re going back to arming our DNCOs, so it’s important to know how to handle the weapon safely.”
Safety is stressed during pistol classes and during qualification to ensure that Marines are constantly aware of the serious nature of weapons handling and the importance of maintaining positive control your weapon.
“It’s important to pay attention in the classes,” said Duarte. “You want to be safe when you go and ensure you learn the basic skills like breath control, trigger control, and taking your time.”
For many of the Marines, it was their first time qualifying on pistol.
Cpl. Donald L. Goodman, a warehouse clerk assigned to the 26th MEU, and first time pistol shooter, said “It was fun and good exercise for marksmanship skills.”
Pistol qualification provides additional training and experience to Marines, however, unlike the annual rifle qualification, it is not usually required.
“It’s more difficult than the rifle,” said Goodman. “At boot camp and combat training you get trained and comfortable with your rifle, so the experience Marines have with the pistol varies and limited.”
Marines are taught extensively about their rifles, even throughout boot camp and combat training they rarely part from their rifles, instilling weapon familiarity. Marines do not receive this same training with their pistols.
“I think if I was more familiar with the weapon system I could perform better with it,” said Goodman. “I think more practice would assist the Marines and I think it is important for Marines to be efficient with the pistol because eventually they’ll need to be qualified if they stay in long enough.”
Marines are likely to transition to different commands and bases all throughout their career. Different commands may require pistol qualification depending on the command’s mission, so the longer a Marine is in the Marine Corps, the greater the likelihood he will at some point be required to qualify on pistol.
A Marine may also want to get pistol qualified for career advancement through promotion. Having a pistol qualification can help a Marine stand out for meritorious promotion boards as they take into account the Marine’s training and qualifications beyond the ones that are required.
“It was good training,” said Duarte. “Any training or qualification you can receive makes you more competitive for promotion and a better tuned Marine.”