OCTOBER 7, 2016, MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Among the four fast and mobilized, armored, terrestrial reconnaissance battalions of the United States Marine Corps, four crews were selected to go head-to-head during the first ever Bushmaster Challenge. The competition took place during daylight and nighttime hours on range SR-7 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 3-4.
Each year Marines with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, conduct their biannual requirement of gunnery qualification. Within each company, a high shooter or crew will shoot against other companies until a battalion high shooter is recognized. However, that’s where the competition has stopped, says Staff Sgt. Thomas McDaniel, the Battalion Master Gunner with 2nd LAR.
“We’ve been waiting to do this for quite a few years, but the battalions couldn’t come together on a proper timeline,” said McDaniel. “This competition is going to reinforce our mission and purpose inside of our battalion and our units as a whole. The Marines are learning their jobs and our position in the Marine Corps.”
The Bushmaster table, McDaniel explains, is fabricated to replicate the enemy using a hole-down position with hidden vehicles. The table combines elements taken from what has been seen during the times of OIF/OEF, as well as adding motorcycles and friendly buildings or vehicles that the Marines must be consciously aware of during live-fire events.
The competition consists of four light-armored vehicles, or LAV-25’s, shooting at targets with an M242 Bushmaster, which is a 25 mm chain-driven autocannon used extensively by the U.S. military, and the M240 coaxial machine gun.
At the end of their last shoot, scorekeepers take the Marines’ typical scoring method of ‘train’, ‘needs practice’, and ‘unqualified’, and equate numbers to that system to name the highest score the winner. Exposure time and survivability are also added into these scores, adds McDaniel.
“We don’t get to do this type of training very often,” said Cpl. Michael Barrett, a gunner with 4th LAR. “It’s a great experience to be a part of this competition.”
LAR battalions perform combined arms reconnaissance and security missions in support of the ground combat element. Their mission is to conduct reconnaissance, execute security and economy of force operations, and within their capabilities, limited offensive or defensive operations that exploit the units’ mobility and firepower.