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Members of the championship rifle and pitol teams are Lt. Col. Daniel Scott, Capt. Ashley McCabe, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Vince Pope, Capt. Shawn Malone, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul Sandy, Gt. Neil Sookdeo, Gunnery Sgt. Israel Gonzales, Gunnery Sgt. Larry King and Sgt. John Paszkiet.

Photo by Valerie O’Berry

Quantico Rifle and Pistol Teams bring home the championship trophies

19 May 2016 | Valerie O’Berry Marine Corps Base Quantico

The Quantico Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) pistol and rifle teams both won their respective Eastern Division championships held recently at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The prestigious trophies that come along with winning the championships are the Elliott Trophy for the rifle team and the Edson Trophy for the pistol team. Both trophies were presented to Lt. Gen. Robert S. Walsh, commanding general of MCCDC, during a ceremony held at Weapons Training Battalion May 6.

Rifle team members are: Coach Sgt. Neil Sookdeo, Marksmanship Program Management Section (MPMS); Captain of the team Chief Warrant Officer 5 Vince Pope, MPMS; Lt. Col. Daniel Scott, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion; Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul Sandy, gunner, Weapons Training Battalion (WTBN); Gunnery Sgt. Larry King, Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC); and Cpl. Cody Barss, S-3 Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC).

Pistol team members are: Captain of the pistol team Chief Warrant Officer Paul Sandy; Capt. Shawn Malone, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N98); Capt. Jared Dalton, Pistol Team Marine Corps; Chief Warrant Officer Vince Pope; and Cpl. Cody Barss.

“1977 was the last time we won the Edson trophy and we’ve never won the Elliott Trophy,” said Pope. “This year we won both and the bulk of our team are new shooters. The coach took us to this level.”

Coach Sookdeo said that training for the championship was difficult since members of the rifle and pistol teams are spread out throughout the National Capital Region and there were only a few training days available. “To get such performance in such a small timeframe, I had to un-teach a lot of the bad habits learned… and had to re-wire them,” said Sookdeo.

Sookdeo also said that the biggest key is that his shooters were a willing audience that had no ego. “You cannot justify each technique to a group of shooters unless they are willing to seek knowledge and constantly improve.” Perhaps the greatest difficulty was diagnosing issues with near 100% accuracy, according to Sookdeo. The effort was worth it, though, as the teams claimed the championship.

Lt. Gen. Walsh says he is proud of the Marines and that receiving the trophies was a very special moment for Headquarters.

“As old as our Corps is and as sophisticated as combat has become, we continue to place marksmanship at the bulls-eye of being a Marine,” said Walsh. “These trophies epitomize the importance of the skills and how much it means for our marksmen to achieve this recognition.”

Walsh also participated in a recreational shoot with the pistol and rifle team members. “We had the opportunity to go back in Marine Corps history and compare the M1903 Springfield and the M1 Garand rifles the Marines used in World War II against the rifle their Japanese enemy used with their Type 99 Arisaka rifle. (The recreational shoot) was an added plus to a wonderful day,” he said.

“It was fun,” said Sandy of the competition for the coveted trophies. “There are long days being an infantry guy and I got to see how hard it is. Winning was a high, ecstatic feeling especially since the pistol team has never won it before.”

Marine Corps Base Quantico