NEWS | June 27, 2018

Virginia Soldiers, Airmen awarded for marksmanship excellence

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Sixty-four Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen participated in this year’s Adjutant General’s State Pistol Match, held June 22-24, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The event, hosted by the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, had shooters split into 16 teams of four to test their marksmanship skills against some of the best shooters in the state and the nation. On Sunday, the top shooters gathered at the RTI for an awards ceremony that recognized the year’s top team and individual competitors.

“We’ve always described the matches as training disguised as competition,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Joel Kliesen, the Virginia National Guard’s state marksmanship coordinator. “Hopefully we’re going to teach these guys a few new things, let them get a better idea of their capabilities and limitations. Like a lot of things, you don’t know what you don’t know until someone shows you.”

The pistol match is one of two state matches held each year and this year included seven courses of fire that had shooters firing from different positions, reacting to different environments and targets and engaging different targets with different weapon systems. Over two days of shooters, the marksman fired around 14,000 rounds.

Sgt. Alexandra Wilson, assigned to the 183rd RTI, was named first place in the individual aggregate with 697 points; Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ice, assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, placed second with 685 points; and Cpl. William Mikolay, assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, placed third with 602 points.

The team from the 183rd RTI placed first with 2,473 points; Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT placed second with 1,989 points; and the 29th Infantry Division team placed third with 1,957 points.

The Excellence in Competition Match requires shooters to start in the standing position at the 30-yard line and engage a total of four targets, moving forward all the way to the 15-yard line in positions of standing, kneeling and prone with time limits ranging from 60 to 15 seconds. In this match, Ice took first place, while Spc. Zachary Wilson, assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, placed second and Nikolay placed third.

Among the team matches was the Bianchi Battle Match, designed to test team coordination, endurance and marksmanship skills. It is a multi-phase event that requires shooters to knock down targets with both the pistol and the shotgun at unknown distances.

The 183rd RTI team took first place in the Bianchi Battle Match; Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT took second, and the team from HeadquartersCompany, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT took third.

To learn more about marksmanship match opportunities within the Virginia National Guard, a full listing of match winners and the Virginia National Guard Training Unit, visit them on Facebook at

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