Live-fire gunnery range

Maj. Gen. John K. Love, 2nd Marine Division commanding general, speaks with Marines before conducting a live-fire gunnery range at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 27, 2016. Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion spent the day refining their marksmanship skill as individuals and their ability to work as an AAV crew.

Marines with Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion spent the day refining their shooting skills during a gunnery range at SR-10, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune July 27.

The gunnery range entailed firing from assault amphibious vehicles mounted with M-2 .50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 40mm grenade launchers.

"Down range were Ivan targets, which we had to use the .50 caliber to take out," said Cpl. Zachary Barrens, a vehicle commander with the unit. "They also placed hard targets such as trucks and bunkers that we used the grenade launcher on."

The gunnery served as a qualification for the Marines as both AAV crews and individuals.

"When we drop (infantrymen) off, we have to ensure they can take their objective by providing supporting and suppressive fire, while they get to cover," said Barrens.

With a maximum possible score of 1,000, the Marines were required to pass with at least 700 points. A gunner faced 10 separate engagements, worth 100 points each.

"The evaluators want to ensure the crews are communicating, the driver is spotting the targets and letting his gunner know, and the turret gunner hits the intended target in a timely manner," said Barrens.

Barrens explained the qualification range was conducted so the crewmen not only understand the functionality of an AAV, but also the weapons systems that it carries.

"The AAVs are what set us apart from every other branch in the military," said Barrens. "It’s what makes the Marine Corps truly amphibious."