MCAS Cherry Point News

 

Photo Information

Cpl. Stephen Gomes (left) receives guidance from Kevin Driscoll during a trap and skeet range at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., April 14, 2016. Twenty Marines with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion’s Firearms Mentorship Program utilized their marksmanship skills during the range as part of their firearms safety classes. The mentorship program promotes safe private gun ownership, builds confidence in marksmanship skills and increases Marines combat readiness by familiarizing them with other weapons. Gomes is a cyber-network operator with the battalion and Driscoll is the range safety officer with the MCAS Cherry Point Skeet Club. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas/ Released)

Photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas

2nd LAAD firearm mentorship program shows off skills at skeet range

19 May 2016 | Cpl. N.W. Huertas 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Pfc. Jesse Conti gazed down the sight of his rifle for the first time as he took a controlled, but relaxed stance and an orange disk darted through the sky as he prepared to shoot. He followed the target swiftly and pulled the trigger with the precision instilled in him by his new found confidence since joining the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion’s Firearms Mentorship Program. 

Conti was among the 20 Marines with 2nd LAAD’s Firearms Mentorship Program that used their marksmanship skills during a skeet range at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, April 14.

According to 1st Lt. Benjamin Pearce, the adjutant with 2nd LAAD, the program has been open to all Marines of the battalion since its establishment in October 2015.

 

The Firearms Mentorship Program objectives are to promote safe private gun ownership, build confidence in marksmanship skills and increase combat readiness by familiarizing Marines  with other weapons.

 

“This program is giving Marines an opportunity to do something outside of the normal routine with other members of the unit while learning valuable lessons,” explained Conti, a low altitude air defense gunner with Bravo Battery, 2nd LAAD Battalion. “People like me, who have always been interested in firearms sports but have never had the opportunity to go out and actually be educated on it, are being given a safe environment to learn the basics of weapons handling. Without this program, I might have never received the proper training and could have ended up buying a weapon that did not suit me. Lack of safety training could have even potentially lead to harming myself or others.”

 

The 2nd LAAD Firearms Mentorship Program has received positive feedback from its current members. Several units within I Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and II Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Lejeune, have reached out to take part in the program.

 

“Units should develop programs like firearms mentorship to ensure their Marines are educated in proper gun safety,” explained Pearce.  “The first step to combating negligence and firearms mishaps is proper education.”

 

According to Pearce, the program planners coordinated on providing Marines with more concealed firearms training and attending civilian firearms ranges to give members hands on experience.

 

“I recommend this program to any Marine that’s thinking about getting a firearm or already owns one,” said Conti. “Prior to this program, I did not know anything about shotguns or the resources we have available to us, like the trap and skeet range on base. It’s a great feeling to find yourself confident in both your skills as a rifleman and the knowledge you have on different weapons systems.”

 

The Firearms Mentorship Program is open to all Marines of the battalion regardless of rank or experience level. Responsible weapons handling is a top priority for the program as every Marine is a rifleman and must possess confidence in their skills with any weapon.

 

The trap and skeet range at the air station is available to all active duty, DOD civilians and retired service members interested in participating.

 


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