Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. -- About 40 Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron-371 took part in a day and night live-fire pistol exercise at the Rock Quarry and known-distance pistol ranges Oct. 12 and 13.
The marksmanship exercise, which ran both days with about 20 Marines each day, focused on the second and third parts of the combat triad gun-handling skills and combat mindset, said Capt. Ryan Anderson, MWSS-371 engineer operations company commander, who organized the event.
"Normally they'll come out here on a KD course and get marksmanship training, but there are also the other two portions; gun-handling skills getting comfortable presenting the weapon in a simulated combat environment, learning how it functions and how to use the magazines and (ammunition) and then also the mindset," said Anderson. "There's no one there telling them to load, unload or clear it gets them to think about what they need to be doing in a combat environment."
Prior to the day-fire portion, the Marines received classes on basic gun-handling skills, safety, communication, verbal commands, movement and principles of fire under combat conditions.
"They bring all those skills together on how to shoot, move and communicate all at the same time, shoot at multiple targets and shoot while wounded really any type of scenario you could think of that you might run into in combat," he said.
The Marines moved on to the KD pistol range before sunset and prepared for the night-fire.
There they fired during a simulated hostage situation, familiarized and fired with night-vision goggles, fired with tactical lights and practiced consistent firing.
"We use the power of light to not only blind and distract the enemy, but also it can temporarily distract the enemy while you shoot and move to another position," he continued. "Light also helps to acquire a target."
Communication between firing partners is one of the most important skills taught during the exercise, said Sgt. Jedidiah Vermillion, squadron utilities floor chief and a primary marksmanship instructor during the training.
"You want to have them in control of the situation, and not let the situation get out of control," Anderson said.
"I think it's the life-blood of this training," Vermillion said. "If you have a partner and you're in a stressful environment even out here on a gun range with instructors yelling at you you have to communicate at all times. If you don't have communication, you have nothing."
Communication allows partners to consistently keep rounds headed down range and fire until the threat is gone, said Anderson.
Cpl. Melvin Fry, a tactical data-network specialist and student during the training, recognized the importance of communication.
"I think enforcing communication (for example), someone saying 'cover' and their partner saying 'move,' and knowing that somebody has got your back while you're out there it helps. It's a good feeling to know you're not alone out there."