MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Breathe in, exhale, slow and steady squeeze. A Marine shooter repeats these steps and adds five points toward his score after hitting his target 500 yards down range.
Lance Cpl. Jacob Arthur, a crew chief serving with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and a native of Los Angeles, competed on the rifle range at the 2013 Western Division Matches for the first time in his Marine Corps career here, March 5.
“I have been shooting since the first day I could hold a gun,” Arthur said. “My father was raised hunting and shooting and that’s how I was raised too.”
Growing up, Arthur competed in shooting competitions and when he attended high school he joined the school shooting team.
“I was raised in a very competitive family so when I got to high school, I started to compete,” Arthur said. “I won two national championships for trap shooting and a couple state skeet shooting championships throughout high school.”
Since joining the Marine Corps, Arthur has not been able to showcase his marksmanship as much as before. After hearing about the 2013 Western Division Matches, he seized the opportunity and signed up to compete.
“When I first heard about the competition, I was excited because I hadn’t had the chance to competitively shoot in a while,” Arthur said. “I was lucky because I was in the right place at the right time. My company was looking for expert marksmen who were interested in the competition and I just so happened to have those traits.”
Over the course of two weeks, the competitors receive coaching from members of the Marine Corps Shooting Team and shoot for score both rifle and pistol ranges. The competition consists of rapid fire, slow fire and one-handed pistol shooting, all on targets smaller than what is used during annual rifle qualifications.
Arthur’s battalion is stationed at Camp Pendleton, but Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Mirimar and Logistics Base Barstow also came to showcase their marksmanship in this year’s competition.
“There are more than 300 Marines here all competing to win bronze, silver and gold medals,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cecil Beltran, the officer in charge of Wilcox Range. “Each of the medals have a set amount of points which can be accumulated to earn a distinguished marksman badge.”
Of the 340 Marines competing, only 34 will receive medals and will move on to compete in the Marine Corps Champion Matches.
A gold medal is worth ten points, silver worth eight and bronze worth six points. To earn a distinguished marksman badge, a Marine must accumulate 30 points.
Even though the competition was tough, Arthur felt honored to compete against the distinguished shooters to his left and right.
“It is very humbling to be competing with the great shooters here,” Arthur said. “For some, it might make you want to give up, but it makes me want to do better. It gives me more drive to better myself.”
Arthur hopes that drive will help him qualify for the Marine Corps Champion Matches later this year and one day become a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team.