CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. --
In the misty, pre-dawn light of the Indiana morning, Marines marched onto the rifle range. Covered and aligned, each platoon from Companies F and G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, grounded their packs and began setting up two-man tents.
The two companies traveled eight hours by bus to Camp Atterbury, Ind. from their respective headquarters in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis. for the second and third stages of their biennial rifle qualifications, which involve firing specific groups of rounds on a stationary target, moving targets, as well as pivoting and advancing on stationary targets.
Staff Sgt. Edward Vinogroski, Co. G operations chief and the range safety officer, said the companies successfully train and sustain their marksmanship skills with dynamic, tactical ranges held throughout the year. However, basic qualifications still provide the necessary foundation for strong marksmanship fundamentals.
In addition to the standard qualifications, the Marines also practiced dry- and live-fire immediate and remedial action drills, mimicking weapons failures and blockages to practice the most efficient repair procedures.
While the Marines are tested on the firing line, those are not the only obstacles Reserve Marines have to overcome to successfully complete a range.
One of the challenges to planning a range for a Reserve unit is making sure that all arrangements are thoroughly completed, ammunition, weapons and targets readied, and all members of the unit who need to qualify are accounted for, Vinogroski said. Reserve Marines often need to take time off from their civilian jobs to attend training, and if they are unable, they have to attempt to reschedule their training. Since various ranges and exercises may not be held often during the fiscal year, Reserve Marines are under pressure to make those qualification deadlines.
Capt. Shane Bartelt, the Co. G commanding officer, said that since transferring to the Reserve in 2012, his work with Co.G has shown him the importance of keeping his company well-trained and eager to advance their skills.
“We are going to push our Marines as hard as we can in the limited time that we have,” Bartelt said. “If the Marines are going to make the commitment to come into the Reserve and give up their time to defend their country, we are going to spend that time as usefully as possible.”
Lance Cpl. Justin Hrupka of 1st Platoon, Co. F, said since joining the unit in October, he feels that the qualification ranges are still absolutely necessary.
“Even though a qualification range is more laid back than the dynamic tactical ranges my unit is used to doing, it still helps us sustain those basic marksmanship fundamentals,” Hrupka said.
Lance Cpl. Cody Schroeder of 2nd Plt, Co. G, says the range helps supplement the many classes the company gets covering the basic marksmanship fundamentals and tactical engagement, as well as the characteristics and maintenance of different weapons systems. Schroeder added that the field training and qualifications he and his fellow Marines receive, remind them of their responsibilities as infantrymen.
“I think every Marine knows, especially as Reserve Marines, how important it is to keep an active state of mind,” Schroeder said. “We all understand the importance of what we have to do. I personally like being in the field and firing my weapons. I have a blast doing it.”
Co. F, 2/24 is based in Milwaukee, Wis. and Co. G, 2/24 is based in Madison, Wis. Both companies train throughout the year, to include participating in the Integrated Training Exercise 4-13, June 2013 in Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.