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Hitting black, breaking records at pistol range

By Pfc. Nikki M. Fleming | | March 24, 2006

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Most Marines try their best just to qualify as an expert on the pistol range, but for a staff sergeant on Feb. 15, it was a quest to break a record.

Staff Sgt. Jeff A. Bassett, a Marine Corps Community Services South Carolina Marine for Fightertown, scored a 387 at the Air Station pistol range, edging out the former high score of 386, previously owned by Gunnery Sgt. William P. Costello, the range safety officer.

According to Bassett, it was a beautiful day, a little wind and a bit cold, but nothing that affected his confidence.

“I had been shooting well all week. That morning I had nothing on my mind and (I) didn’t feel tired,” said Bassett.

Bassett had been keeping track of how he was shooting in a journal during his practice rounds. On qualification day, Bassett had the notebook with him and referred to it before firing.

“During the week, Bassett was getting close, within four or five points. He was shooting in the low 380s,” said Sgt. Adam R. Zybert, the range assistant primary marksman instructor and a line non-commissioned officer. Zybert was Bassett’s coach this time around on the pistol range.

“He came up to us and asked if he could keep his target,” said Staff Sgt. Gerry M. Schiller, the range primary marksman instructor. “That’s the first we heard that he came close to the score. We knew that he was firing well, but we didn’t have anyone standing over his shoulder keeping score.”

When the math was done, Basset had only dropped 13 points.

“I was feeling competitive and everything seemed to click that day,” said Bassett. “It didn’t hit me right away. I knew I shot well, but I didn’t keep score. I didn’t look at the big picture. It didn’t even dawn on me that I was that close to it, but it definitely sunk in later.”

The previous record had stood since the new range had opened in 2004.

“It was good to see someone beat it, it was time,” said Schiller. “Not particularly that Costello got beat or anything like that but it was time that the bar got raised a little bit.”

According to Schiller, Costello was good-natured about it, but said Costello is going to come back and defend it again.

“I wanted to beat his record,” said Bassett. “I wanted to put my name up on the board and I wanted all black, if possible, all 10s.”

According to Bassett, there were one or two shots that went off too late or too soon, but it made him concentrate harder. The 25-yard line is where Bassett lost most of the points.

“He was already a distinguished shooter,” said Zybert. “So it should be no surprise that he broke the record.”

Bassett participated in Eastern Division Matches in pistol shooting, which he said improved his shooting incredibly. He also takes part in the pistol range’s recreational fire on Fridays.

“I am a good shot,” said Bassett. “This just puts the icing on the cake. I have a title on it. If you feel comfortable with a pistol, it’s easier to shoot.”

According to Bassett, it was nice to have a coach there that was a little more relaxed, but still helped when needed.

“Everyone can achieve it if they have an exceptional coach such as Sergeant Zybert,” said Schiller.

Although Bassett has taken the record here, the normal range high for other pistol ranges are around 392, according to Zybert.

“There is definitely room for someone else to come out and (outscore him),” said Zybert.

Even with the pistol range record, Bassett seems unfulfilled with his shooting and continues to set higher goals for himself.

“I would like to shoot better next year,” said Bassett. “If someone else beats it then I’ll just have to (get their record).
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