The 13th annual Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Trials were held at Camp Pendleton in California, Feb. 28 to March 12, 2023, with the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) there to support the shooting portion of the event.
Each year, the military service branches host their own trials for those eligible to participate in the Department of Defense’s annual Wounded Warrior Games. The Games started in 2010 for the ill, wounded and injured active duty and veteran U.S. military members. Sports for the Games include golf, track & field, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby and basketball, sitting volleyball, power lifting, swimming and shooting. This year’s Wounded Warrior Games will be held in San Diego, Calif., in June.
The CMP was hired for the Marine Corps Trials to control the targets, run the match and facilitate training. CMP’s Catherine Green and Haisten Smith joined coaches Phil Bryant, Brad Royal and Douglas Godfrey with leading the 60+ rifle and pistol athletes from Battalion East and West. Athletes also hailed from the UK, Italy, France, Colombia and the country of Georgia.
The shooting event was held on an electronic target range. Around three practice sessions were held each day of the Marine Corps Trials. Participating athletes were assigned a rifle or pistol, with coaches helping them get into the right position and explaining techniques that would aid them in their respective matches.
“It was a relaxing environment, and trust was built with each session that passed,” Green said of the participants. “Being in the range began to feel like home with the bonds and memories that we were creating.”
The competition consisted of four relays of qualification. Each category and class (Open, SH1, SH2) shot 20 shots for record, with the top eight firing within a final. Targets were displayed on TVs for spectators to follow how athletes were performing and how they ranked. Target views were also available online for those who had friends and family that couldn’t be at the trials.
The atmosphere on the range was exciting and fun, with music playing and crowd members cheering. A special moment was also seen in the Prone Open final, when SSgt Ronnie Mills fired two 10.9s in a row – a challenge the Marines have held for the last year and a half, set by Coach Phil Bryant. With Mills clearing the challenge, Bryant fulfilled his promise of jumping into the base’s fountain as reward.
After all shooting was completed, the range was dismantled, and awards were presented. The room was then converted for the archery competition the next day.
More About Para-athlete Classes:
Currently, competitions are held for Open, SH1 and SH2 categories. Classes are based on the Paralympic guidelines determined by the strength, support and range of motion the athlete has to perform the sport.
Open means athletes are able to perform the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) Olympic positions with no adaptive positions. SH1 for rifle is for athletes with lower limb impairment, while SH2 athletes have an upper limb impairment and will require a shooting stand to support the rifle. Athletes may also have a lower body impairment. SH1 for pistol means they could have an upper and/or lower limb impairment and are typically placed into a seated position, but not always.
An SH3 class has also been created for those with vision impairment. Athletes within SH3 use equipment designed to attach to the rifle or pistol with a laser pointed at the target to track the direction the barrel is pointed. The laser makes a different frequency to let the athlete know where the firearm is pointed on the target.
Learn more about World Para Sport Shooting at https://www.paralympic.org/shooting/about.
— By Ashley Dugan, CMP Staff Writer
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.