the 13he The annual Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Trials were held at Camp Pendleton in California, February 28 – March 12, 2023, with the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) there to support the shooting portion of the event.
Each year, branches of the military host their own trials for those eligible to participate in the Department of Defense’s annual Wounded Warrior Games. The Games began in 2010 for the wounded and sick active duty and veteran US military. Sports for the Games include golf, track and field, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, rugby and wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, weightlifting, swimming and shooting. This year’s Wounded Warrior Games will take place in San Diego, California, in June.
The CMP was contracted to the Marine Corps Trials to control targets, run the match, and facilitate training. CMP’s Catherine Green and Haisten Smith joined coaches Phil Bryant, Brad Royal and Douglas Godfrey to lead the East and West Battalion’s 60+ rifle and pistol athletes. The athletes also came from the UK, Italy, France, Colombia and the country of Georgia.
The shooting event was held at an electronic shooting range. About three practice sessions were held each day of the Marine Corps Trials. Participating athletes were assigned a rifle or pistol, and coaches helped them get into the correct position and explained techniques that would help 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 field started to feel like home with the bonds and the memories we were making.”
The competition consisted of four qualifying relays. Each category and class (Open, SH1, SH2) fired a record 20 shots, with the top eight shooting within one final. The goals were shown on televisions for viewers to follow the performance of the athletes and their ranking. Target views were also available online for those who had friends and family who were unable to make it to the trials.
The atmosphere at the shooting range was exciting and fun, with music playing and cheering members of the crowd. A special moment was also seen in the Prone Open final, when Sergeant Ronnie Mills shot two straight 10.9s, a challenge the Marines have held for the past year and a half, set by coach Phil Bryant. With Mills beating the challenge, Bryant made good on his promise to jump into the base fountain as a reward.
After all filming was completed, the shooting range was dismantled and the awards were given. The room was then converted for the archery competition the next day.
Learn more about DoD Wounded Warrior Games at https://dodwarriorgames.com/. View YouTube highlight videos at https://youtu.be/wfpJTAG8zdk.
More about the para-athlete classes:
Currently, competitions are held for the Open, SH1 and SH2 categories. Classes are based on Paralympic guidelines determined by the strength, support, and range of motion the athlete has to perform the sport.
Open means that athletes can perform ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) Olympic positions without adaptive positions. SH1 for Rifle is for athletes with a lower extremity disability, while SH2 athletes have an upper extremity disability and will need a shooting stand to hold the rifle. Athletes can also have a lower body disability. SH1 for pistol means they could have an upper or lower extremity disability and are usually placed in a sitting position, but not always.
A SH3 class has also been created for the visually impaired. Athletes within SH3 wear gear designed to be attached to the rifle or pistol with a laser pointed at the target to track the direction the barrel is pointing. The laser has a different frequency so the athlete knows where the firearm is pointing on the target.
Find out more about World Para Sport Shooting at https://www.paralympic.org/shooting/about.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of marksmanship competition for United States citizens. To learn more about the CMP and its programs, log on to www.TheCMP.org.