VIRGINIA BEACH -- A member of the U.S. Navy Marksmanship Team (USNMT), assigned to Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center (ECRC), competed at the 51st annual Interservice Rifle Championship held in Quantico, Va., July 16 - 24.
In his very first major shooting competition for the Navy, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Travis S. Dee, the leading petty officer of ECRC’s weapons division, went up against some of the very best marksmen from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air and National Guard. The rifle men came together to show off their skills and learn from each other during the competition. Dee and his competition battled record high temperatures as they competed in individual and team matches shooting at ranges from 200 to 1,000 yards, using service rifles, M16 and a match rifle of their choice.
“The competitions are not just about competing to be the best. It is more importantly to provide training and marksmanship instruction to beginners as well as the experienced,” said Dee. “Although I have been shooting all my life, I was considered a ‘new’ shooter because it was my first year. I left with a great deal of knowledge that I learned being there and I hope I was able to give some of my own knowledge to help someone else. As long as I can help someone else improve on something makes it all worthwhile.”
Dee earned his spot representing the Navy at the Interservice Rifle Championship after proving his marksmanship in April of this year. Competing against over a 100 Sailors at the 2012 Atlantic Fleet and All Navy Rifle & Pistol matches, he shot his way through qualifying and was awarded two gold Excellence in Competition (EIC) medals. The medals are given during EIC specific matches where shooters can earn points towards the Distinguished Marksmanship Badge, the military’s highest marksmanship award. He was also awarded an M1 Garand rifle for being the top “new” shooter this year at the Navy matches.
“I’m proud to represent the Navy,” said Dee. “Our Navy team is different from the other services – others have dedicated teams where service members are assigned to shoot for them. The Navy team is made up of those top Sailors who do this because they have the desire to do it, not because they are assigned to do it, but because they want to. Hopefully it can bring more attention to other Sailors who would be interested in doing this in the future.”
Shooting came natural to Dee, who started at the age of five, shooting cans in his backyard. He knew he was a “good shot,” and after he joined the military, he was able to receive formal marksmanship instruction through the Navy, Marine Corps and other training facilities.
“It certainly helped me understand everything that you have to apply to shooting,” added Dee. “Once I was able to understand the basics of marksmanship, I certainly improved.”
As lead petty officer of ECRC’s weapons division, Dee is responsible for keeping track of all weapons in support of all Individual Augmentee (IA) Sailors in training and during their missions in support of overseas contingency operations. He’s also responsible for maintaining Navy gun qualifications for all ECRC staff.
“I couldn’t be prouder for GM1 (Dee), leading our ranges through safety and marksmanship skills, he’s taught us so much,” said Capt. Eric Jabs, Commanding Officer. “It’s just stupendous by using the lessons he’s been sharing with us at ECRC, he then brings it to the Navy’s marksmanship team. There is no higher calling for a gunner’s mate, it’s a true testimony to his dedication and skills.”