FORT PICKETT, Va. — For the first time, the Virginia National Guard’s annual Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match was a combined arms event, held June 21-23, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. More than 50 Soldiers and Airmen competed in the event, which tested their skills on both rifle and pistol, and was hosted by the Marksmanship Training Unit, part of 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.
“Historically, we’ve always done rifle and pistol separately,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Joel Kliesen, state marksmanship coordinator. “We’ve wanted to do both events together for a couple of years and this year we did.”
Kliesen said he’s always described the Virginia National Guard’s marksmanship matches as, “training described as competition,” and said this year was no different. During the three-day event, Soldiers and Airmen competed as both individuals and as part of a four-person team. They fired several courses of fire that had them shooting from different positions, reacting to different environments and engaging different targets with different weapon systems.
“In the military, we’re all taught basic fundamental [marksmanship] skills, but this enhances those skills by taking them to the next level,” said Col. Rodney Brickell, Virginia National Guard director of intelligence, who competed for the first time this year. He said one of the biggest takeaways for shooters who participated in the event, was a boost in confidence. “It’s one thing to just basically qualify, but now you can actually have confidence that you can move and shoot.”
New this year was the addition of a marshall fitness event. In teams of four, shooters ran to the first firing position and knocked down targets with a shotgun, then, in pairs, pulled a loaded skid up and down a lane before running to engage the next target, each with a 40 pound kettle bell in hand. At the next target, they took turns engaging targets with their pistols while keeping their kettle bells off the ground and then had to move their four kettle bells and an M2 Machine Gun to the next target, which they engaged with their rifles. Scores were calculated based on both accuracy and speed.
“By adding the physical stressors, we can show people there’s a lot more to what they’re doing that just getting a nice tight shop group on a target,” Kliesen said.
Spc. Zachary Wilson, assigned to 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, has competed in the state matches since 2014. He said he continues to participate in the event because he likes the competition and the opportunity to challenge himself. Plus, he said, “I think every time I come here I learn something.”
Standings for the 2019 Adjutant General’s Combined Arms Marksmanship Match:
Individual Aggregate – Pistol
- Spc. Jon Wheless, assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, with a score of 465
- Spc. Peter LaForge, assigned to the 229th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, with a score of 442
- Spc. Noel Robleto, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, with a score of 440
Individual Aggregate – Rifle:
- Capt. Alexander Symons, assigned to 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT, with a score of 377
- Spc. Zachary Wilson, assigned 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, with a score of 372
- Spc. Noel Robleto, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, with a score of 370
- Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett, (Capt. Rozier Steinbach, Sgt. Travis Brooks, Sgt. David Hennaman, Sgt. Devin Piotrowski) with a score of 2,912
- Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, (2nd Lt. Ben Ganoe, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Mycko, Staff Sgt. Timothy Trexler, Spc. Jon Wheless) with a score of 2,853
- Headquarters, 116th IBCT (Staff Sgt. Steven Fletcher, Sgt. Alexandra Hawes, Sgt. William Viar, Spc. Matthew Hall) with a score of 2,735
Excellence in Competition – Rifle
- Spc. Zachary Wilson, with a score of 136
- Spc. Noel Robleto, with a score of 135
- Spc. Alex Symons, with a score of 134
Excellence in Competition – Pistol
- Spc. Jon Wheless, with a score of 163
- Spc. Peter LaForge, with a score of 161
- Sgt. Devin Piotrowski, with a score of 158