MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, YUMA, Ariz. --
After taking top honors in the Western Division Matches, a Yuma Marine is heading to the Marine Corps championship matches at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 6-24.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Allen Young, station marksmanship training unit officer in charge, earned the West Coast pistol shooter title after outgunning more than 200 other competitors March 2-20 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Despite already being a distinguished pistol shooter, Young was surprised at his performance.
“I knew I was going to do really well, but to say I was going to finish first, I didn’t expect that,” said the 37-year-old native of Mount Carmel, Ill.
The competition pitted Young and six other Yuma Marines against teams from throughout various West Coast installations and even one civilian team.
Each participant was required to shoot using both the rifle—either an M-16A2 or M-16A4—and the M-9 pistol, firing from three different distances with each weapon.
The three teams with the highest two-day scores were awarded gold, silver and brass trophies, while the top 10 percent of individual rifle and pistol shooters, excluding distinguished shooters, were each awarded medals.
Young was one of a few Marines awarded a Secretary of the Navy M-1 rifle trophy.
Although Yuma’s team did not place high enough during the division match to move on to the Corps’ championship matches, the members are excited to have one of their own in the championships.
“That guy is phenomenal,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Galan, first-time shooting team member. “He is going to do great at the Marine Corps matches.”
The team members were also pleased to be able to compete and to hone their marksmanship skills.
“It was a tremendous experience. We met so many people from all over the West Coast,” said Sgt. Pavel Karpolyuk. “It definitely improved my shooting skills. I was able to polish the small details.”
The key to marksmanship is fundamentals, said Young. That is one of the great things about being able to compete at the division matches; Marines are able to fine tune their fundamentals and get advice from the best shooters in the Corps.
Before leaving for the championships, Young had some advice to all Marines looking to improve their marksmanship skills.
“Shooting is 70 percent mental and 30 percent physical. It’s what’s between the ears that differentiate shooters,” said Young.
The other Yuma Marines who competed at the division matches were Gunnery Sgt. Jimmy Foster, Sgt. Lashaun Charles, Cpl. Matthew Morton and Lance Cpl. James Brand.