MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan -- A Marine from MCAS Iwakuni took the High Marine Honors at the 39th annual Interservice Rifle Championship match in Quantico, Va., July 18-25.
Gunnery Sgt. Alexander Arrieta, food and beverage staff non commissioned officer-in-charge here, took the honor that usually goes to a member of the Marine Rifle Team.
?I didn?t do well in any stage of fire,? Arrieta said. ?But I didn?t do poorly.?
According to Arrieta, it was all luck. He hadn?t touched a rifle in two years and was up against the best shooters in the Marine Corps.
?I was up against guys who had done so much and so many amazing things,? said the San Jose, Costa Rica native. ?It was like playing the dream team.?
This was not the first time Arrieta has been in a rifle competition. He shot competitively from 1993 to 1998.
Arrieta?s development as a competitive shooter did not come easy. In 1989, he became involved with an intramural base rifle and pistol team, while stationed at Quantico, but didn?t have the skills necessary to qualify for the base team.
?I didn?t get picked for the team, but I hounded them,? Arrieta said. ?Then some people dropped out and I was put onto the team to shoot competitively.?
Since then, he has improved and was asked to join forces with other Marines from Japan, to be on this year?s Marine Forces Japan rifle team.
There were six post and station teams from around the Marine Corps and more than 200 of the best individual competitors from different services competing.
Of all the post and station teams, the 10-member Marine Forces Japan rifle team won first place in the Marine Corps Combat development Command, Commanding General?s Cup match. They also took second overall in the Infantry Team match.
?We beat the best of the best,? Arrieta said.
According to Arrieta, at the interservice competition, you know who the shooters are on the left and right of you, so there is more pressure.
You?ve got the best shooters on the first 15 targets,? he said. ?If nothing goes wrong, you?ll be there among the best.?
Being surrounded by the best can be intimidating to some, and eventually the pressures can take their toll on everyone. According to Arrieta, It?s how each shooter deals with the pressure.
?You could cut the tension with a knife,? Arrieta said. ?Here you have to deal with representation, performing and being surrounded by the best high powered rifle shots in the world.?
Although surrounded by the best, it was Arrieta who was in the black most. When the scores were tallied, everyone was surprised and even speechless, according to Arrieta.
After not touching a rifle in two years, Arrieta took home Marine High Honors, proving that whatever your job is in the Marine Corps, every Marine is a rifleman.