Sailors assigned to Naval Technical Training Center Lackland took first place in the team rifle completion for small commands during the Pacific Fleet and All Navy (West) Rifle and Pistol Championships. The competition took place at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California from April 22 through May 1.
Representing NTTC Lackland at the Pacific Fleet competition were Master-at-Arms 1st Class Lawrence Mills, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Bryan Cortex, and Master-at-Arms 1st Class Eric West.
“I was ecstatic!” said Mills. “With three of our team members being new shooters and for us to place as well as we did was incredible. We took first place in the team rifle competition, which was our most challenging event by far with the weather and wind getting worse later in the day.”
For the rifle competition, each shooter starts by shooting 10 rounds in 10 minutes at 200-yards in the standing position without a rifle sling. Then they move to a seated position and fire two rounds, reload, and shoot eight more rounds in 60 seconds using a sling. Next, at 300 yards, shooters move to the prone position, fire two rounds, reload and fire another eight rounds within 60 seconds. Finally, in the prone position, shooters fire 20 rounds in 20-minutes for 50 rounds total and a potential maximum of 500 points.
The weather got worse as the day progressed, and the winds grew stronger and were constantly shifting directions. That made the rifle competition even more challenging, according to Mills. He also mentioned the “mirage” effect, when heat waves emanating from the ground could affect the bullet’s trajectory like wind currents.
“The most challenging event for me was the pistol because it was single-handed at 50 yards,” said West. “I have only shot two-handed throughout my naval career, but I learned how to read the wind because it was blowing across the range at 24 mph.”
“Be ready to learn,” said Cortez, for anyone who plans to attend and compete in these events. “There is so much knowledge there with retirees, civilians, and military personnel sharing what they know and eager to teach.”
Cortez further shared that pulling the trigger is the easy part; learning to make minor adjustments to compensate for changes in the environment is a skill not easily learned.
Top performers at the competition received either a medal, silver plate, or plaque based on their overall score. The “coolest” award, according to Mills, is an M1 Garand. That award goes to those with the highest scores that demonstrate excellence in competition. There were about 13 people who received an M1 Garand, including Mills.
The Atlantic Fleet and All Navy (East) Rifle and Pistol Championships will conclude on May 22. The top performers from both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleet competitions will compete in the national championship in July at Camp Perry in Ohio.
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