Far East Division Matches commence
CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines with various III Marine Expeditionary Force units and Marine Corps Installations Pacific began the first stages of the Far East Division Matches Jan. 18.
The FEDM is one of four division matches held annually throughout the Marine Corps. The primary objectives of the matches are to enhance marksmanship proficiency and stimulate interest and desire for self improvement in marksmanship through the use of individual small arms to refine precision marksmanship skills through advanced marksmanship training and competition.
“Since 1901, the competition-in-arms program has provided the Marine Corps with skilled and experienced marksmen necessary to support a productive marksmanship training program,” said CWO Scott W. Richards, the captain for the MCB Butler team.
The competitors in this region are Marines stationed in Okinawa or mainland Japan who have qualified as a sharpshooter or above with the service rifle.
“This competition attracts some of the best shooters in the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Larry J. Arnold, the coach for the MCB Butler team. “The Marines must get into a rhythm when on the shooting line to stay ahead of the competition.”
During the first week, competitors receive classroom instruction to enhance individual marksmanship proficiency, establish battle site zeroes, participate in dry-fire and live-fire training to develop shooting positions, conduct individual practice, and compete in preliminary matches.
“The competitors receive marksmanship instruction from some of the best marksmen in the Marine Corps,” said Arnold. “They also learn about the history of the competition-in-arms program and have a chance to complete their annual rifle and pistol qualifications.”
Competitors are instructed on the rules of the competition to include authorized equipment and shooting positions, according to Arnold.
Range personnel and representatives from the Marine Corps shooting team enforce the rules. The individual and team that abides by the rules and produces the highest score are crowned the victors.
On most teams, there are members who have competed in the matches before and some who have not, according to Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Delaguila, a shooter on the MCB Butler team. Regardless of experience in the matches, shooters and coaches share past experiences to help one another be the best shooter possible.
“I am very excited to start the competition and learn new techniques for shooting,” said Delaguila. “The little tricks I have learned so far I can already tell will help me in the competition.”
Competition in general is healthy, promotes esprit de corps, and encourages teamwork, according to Richards. The Marine Corps supports and encourages participation in a variety of competitions throughout the year.
“Being more proficient in marksmanship and shooting in this competition has many benefits,” said Richards. “Some benefits include improving one’s composite score for promotion, to the more important ability of accurately engaging the enemy and saving your life and the lives of those Marines to your left and right.”
The division matches will continue until Jan. 30 when the final stages of shooting conclude, and winners in both individual and team categories are announced. Marines finishing in the top 10 percent are afforded the opportunity to compete against the top 10 percent of shooters from the other division matches in the Marine Corps championships at MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C., later this year.