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The U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Team is awarded the 2015 National Trophy Infantry Team Match at Camp Perrin in Port Clinton, Ohio. The eight-man team includes six instructor-competitors: Staff Sgt. Chad Ranton, USMC Shooting Team, Sgt. Tanner Bauer, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 avionics technical, Sgt Antonio Diconza, USMC Shooting Team, Sgt. Joseph Peterson, Weapons Training Bn., Sgt. Joseph Dukich, USMC Shooting Team, Sgt. Jeremy Benjamin, USMC Shooting Team, Rifle Team coach Staff Sgt. Mark Altendorf, and Rifle Team officer in charge Capt. John Sheehan, USMC Shooting Team.

Photo by Ida Irby

Path to award winning rifle team, only for the dedicated

20 Aug 2015 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

After a decade-long drought, the U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Team was awarded the 2015 National Trophy Infantry Team match at the Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio. The eight-man team defended the Marine Corps reputation as the Nation’s finest marksmen in the five-week competition. Military and civilian marksmen have competed annually for the coveted trophies since 1922.

The road to the national competition is a dedicated one. Each year the best Marine riflemen compete at division competitions all over the globe. The best of these riflemen have the opportunity to train with the team at Marine Corps Base Quantico as summer augmentees or permanent party members.

“We are not picking exclusively based on shooting ability, because we not only want the best shooter, but also the best Marine,” said rifle team coach Staff Sgt. Mark Altendorf. “Wherever you are in your shooting skill level is great, because your shooting ability can be developed.”

The top 10 percent of shooters from around the Corps help to supplement the cadre of the USMC Shooting Team. Permanent personnel are chosen to train and participate in matches for three years. Each summer-augmentee is handpicked to join the team from April to August.

Summer-augmentees include a large combination of military occupations. They are trained as combat marksmanship trainers, who in return offer their training capabilities to units throughout the Marine Corps.

According to rifle team coach Altendorf, once chosen, Marines often train on the shooting range daily for weeks without a break. A schedule of daily training and weekend competitions keeps the team busy and sharp.

“Marines here train to become masters at the fundamental marksmanship, therefore it will help them to engage a target in combat quicker and more effectively without wasting time,” said Altendorf. “The time and experience gained can only come from the hours of practice dedicated in this program.”

The disciplined team of Marines competed in the national competition against more than 6,000 shooters.

“When you say, ‘Marines’ a lot of things come mind such as physical fitness or discipline; but marksmanship is one of the pillars which has forged our reputation in battles,” said and rifle team officer in charge, Capt. John Sheehan. “Marksmanship, ability, and proficiency are foundations to our organization. We hone those skills and validate our knowledge in successful competition.”

After the competition is complete each summer-augmentee will return to their units.

“Instructor is the first part of our title and competing is a large bonus,” said Instructor-competitors Sgt. Joseph Peterson, Weapons Training Battalion. “There is a lot of knowledge to gained here, and that is what we give back to the Corps.”

For more information about the team please visit the Training Command website or contact the USMC Rifle Team staff at 703-784-5539.
Marine Corps Base Quantico