Recruit Austin Ferrell with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion fires his M16A4 Service Rifle during the Table One course of fire on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island S.C. July 30, 2020. Farrell broke the depot record for Table One rifle qualification score with a total score of 248 out of 250. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shane Manson)
Marine recruit Austin Ferrell has been shooting, building and machining rifles all of his life, so when he arrived to Chosin Rifle Range aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, he felt right at home.
Ferrell anticipated performing well on the range but never expected to walk away with the highest rifle score in the history of the depot. He would score a near perfect 248 out of 250 on Table One of the Department of Defense’s toughest basic marksmanship challenge, the Marine Corps rifle qualification test.
“I grew up with a rifle in my hand,” Ferrell said. “From the time I was six, I was shooting and building firearms with my dad. He was the one that introduced me to shooting, and when I got to Parris Island, what he taught me was the reason I shot like I did.”
The Marine Corps Table One rifle qualification includes shooting from the prone, kneeling and standing positions at distances of up to 500 yards with the M16A4 Service Rifle, using the Rifle Combat Optic.
“I would go out to a family friend’s range five days a week and practice shooting from distances of up to a mile, it’s a great pastime and teaches you lessons that stay with you past the range.”
“I grew up with a rifle in my hand. From the time I was six, I was shooting and building firearms with my dad. He was the one that introduced me to shooting, and when I got to Parris Island, what he taught me was the reason I shot like I did.”
When asked how he was able to break the Depot’s record, Ferrell responded: “Practice before I got here was definitely a big part of it, but getting into a relaxed state of mind is what helped me shoot… after I shot a 248 everyone was congratulating me, but when I got back to the squad bay my drill instructors gave me a hard time for dropping those two points,” said Ferrell with a laugh.
Recruits are introduced to a more relaxed environment on the rifle range, and taught basic heart rate control and breathing methods to improve their accuracy.
Ferrell’s father George Ferrell said that his son has always given his all into whatever he put his mind to, and that he knows Austin is going to have a promising career in the Marine Corps because of his dedication to success.
“I’m so proud of him, no matter what I’m proud of him but this is above what I expected,” said George. “I always told him to strive to be number one, and the fact that he was able to accomplish that is just a testament to his hard work.”
Ferrell is scheduled to graduate Sept. 4, 2020 with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.