On December 29, 2009, Marines from Gulf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment
were given the opportunity to shoot a different weapon system at the Simulation Center located on Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan.

This particular weapon system has been around since before the Marine Corps was established at Tun Tavern in 1775, and some Marines since that time might have been on the receiving end of this weapon system. Originally scheduled to conduct training in various simulation programs, some of the Marines took the opportunity during their lunch time to shoot a different weapon system. On that day, the Marines of Gulf Company received training on a weapon system that has been around for approximately 5,000 years. It is a oneround, one-shot weapon that can be reloaded after each shot (sometime in the thirteenth century, the Chinese invented a “magazine” fed version of this weapon but with a limited range and accuracy). To this day, the single-shot version of this weapon is still the most accurate at ranges up to 150 meters. That 5,000-year-old weapon system is the bow and arrow.

The opportunity for the Marines to train with the bow and arrow came about because of a discussion between one of the instructors working at the Simulation Center and a Marine from Gulf Company.

That Marine had noticed the instructor had a set of archery equipment in his vehicle and asked if he could be shown it. The instructor said yes, and once the bow an arrows were brought out, other Marines watching nearby expressed their interest and so a commitment was made for the next day’s lunch time for the Marines to shoot some arrows. At this point it is prudent to mention that bows and arrows (including compound bows—the Marines shot only traditional bows on that day) are completely legal to possess and own both off and on base in Okinawa, Japan.

The Marines shot a variety of traditional bows including a longbow, two recurve bows, and even a reproduction of a nineteenth-century Plains Indian bow. The Marines shot foam archery targets, a rubber animal target, and even a plastic bottle. Most of the Marines missed the plastic bottle, but one Marine was able to hit the bottle two out of two times, much to the chagrin of his fellow Marines.

About midway during the shoot, the Marines challenged each other and split into two groups for the friendly competition. During the friendly competition, each Marine had the opportunity to shoot two arrows, trying to place them as close to the center of the target as possible. Neither group of Marines was able to lay claim to being the better archers, but that did not stop them all from having a grand time. They even challenged each other to see who could hit the bottle the most, and though the group gave their best effort, they weren’t quite able to hit the mark.

After shooting the bows and arrows, theMarines, to a man, declared they had a great time. They also requested that upon their return from deployment, they would not only return to the Simulation Center for more simulations training but be given another opportunity to shoot bows and arrows. On that day it was not only a pleasure to give the Marines training on the simulations that the facility provides but to also give them some training on a weapon system that is still around, in use, and enjoyed by so many people around the world. All of the Marines pictured in above photo expressed their satisfaction both about the simulation training and being able to shoot a bow and arrow. Semper Fi!

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