Two station Marines took home medals after participating in the Marine Corps West Division shooting matches at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Capt. Alexander Vanston, the Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron adjutant and a native of West Nyack, N.Y., and Sgt. Johnny Paredez, a H&HS combat marksmanship trainer and a native of Phoenix, Ariz., both placed high enough marks to return to Yuma with bronze medals.
The Marines comprised a third of the team that represented the air station during the competition.
The competition itself saw 250 shooters competing, with more than 20 teams representing the Corps and its myriad of occupations, from infantrymen to cooks. Marines used the M-9 Baretta and the M16A4 service rifle.
Yuma’s team placed fourth in the team competitions for both pistol and rifle.
“Overall our team did very well,” said Vanston, who is expected to compete in the Corps-wide shooitng matches in Quantico, Va. “It was the first time any of us went to division. We had no level of experience at the division level before.”
Trading the warm winds of Yuma for more erratic weather, the competition still seemed to favor the two.
“I was pleasantly surprised by my rifle score,” said Paradez. “Didn’t do as well on my pistol score, but I still medaled. I didn’t think I was going to medal at all.”
“We had a storm system come through that made, what they said, the range very atypical,” added Vanston.
The progression through the matches is markedly different than the annual rifle qualification, such as 20 shots while standing at the 200-yard line and firing 20 shots at the 500-yard line in the prone.
During the competition, Marines use data books, the bibles during such events, to track their shots and accurately judge their shooting ability.
“We’re representing the air station, we did a good showing to the Marine Corps,” said Vanston.
“I think everyone should get involved,” said Paredez of the competition.
Both Marines agree the competition, as an experience and an event, is conducive to improving a Marine’s marksmanship ability. They also agreed on one piece of advice.
“Data books,” said Paredez.
“Data books,” added Vanston.