MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Marines from third platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, sent rounds flying down range at the Kaneohe Bay Range Training Facility aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Aug. 23, 2013.
The Marines, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., sharpened their sniper skills through live-fire exercises.
During the exercise, third platoon gathered at Range 1 and locked on to their targets, firing distances up to 940 yards.
“We have to ensure we stay up-to-date with current training tactics with the operations we perform in,” said Capt. Jeffrey Erb, platoon commander for third platoon, Force Recon Co., 13th MEU, I MEF. “We have to constantly train for reconnaissance, water and airborne operations, and Hawaii provides a great place to do these things.”
The Marines fired approximately 460 rounds at 10 separate targets using silenced M110 semi automatic sniper systems and silenced M40A5 sniper rifles.
Each shooter had a spotter, a Marine trained to use a Leupold spotting scope and impact of the bullet fired. Both shooters and spotters alternated firing and observing for each other during the exercise.
“In a six-man team, every man must be trained as a sniper,” said Erb, a Whitehall, Mich., native. “The most senior shooter is usually the spotter, as they need to account for wind-call adjustments, bullet drop and other variables.”
Snipers utilized the exercise to stay current on fi ring techniques and zero their rifles. Each shooter started with the closest target, firing one shot for one kill. Depending on where the bullet hit, his spotter would call out adjustments to make until he hit center mass.
“The relationship between a spotter and sniper is a very important one,” said Sgt. Robert Gebhardt, a recon Marine with the platoon. “The ability to put precision fire on the enemy is demoralizing to them. Plus, you can’t really get the job done without snipers.”
The Marine Corps has utilized MCB Hawaii as a regular part of the 13th MEU training cycle. The mixture of land, sea and air makes the location ideal for quick, efficient training, according to Erb.
“Having the opportunity to conduct live-fire sniper training on island in the beginning of the 13th MEU’s deployment ensures our snipers have the most up-to-date and accurate zeroes on their systems,” Erb said. “Essentially, it ensures they’re always ready for combat.”