FORT PICKETT, Va. –
It was a historic year of firsts for the Virginia National Guard’s Adjutant General’s Pistol Match, held June 23-25, 2017, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. A record-setting 72 shooters, from both the Army and Air National Guard, turned up to test their marksmanship skills against some of the best shooters in the state. For the first time in the event’s history, a team from the Air National Guard became the state’s pistol champions and Sgt. Alexandra Wilson, assigned to Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center, became the first female state pistol champion and the first female recipient of the Governor’s Twenty tab.
Over the weekend, shooters fired around 15,000 rounds as they competed both as individuals and as members of a four-person team over eight different courses of fire. On Sunday, the shooters gathered at the RTI for an awards ceremony to recognize the champions of this year’s match.
“We are here to promote and award marksmanship excellence,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Jones, state marksmanship coordinator, during the awards ceremony.
Wilson took first place in the individual aggregate category with 585 points and became the state’s first female pistol champion; Staff Sgt. Stephen Adt, assigned to the 183rd RTI, took second place with 499 points; and Tech Sgt. James Allison, assigned to the 192nd Security Forces Squadron, took third place with 497 points. Allison was also recognized as the first place novice in this year’s match.
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.
“This is one of those courses of fire that requires tremendous amounts of focus as you now know,” Jones told the competitors at the awards ceremony.
In the Excellence in Competition Match, Wilson again took first place with 171 points; Sgt. Chandler Potts, assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, took second with 157 points; and Staff Sgt. Andrew Norman, assigned to the 192nd Security Forces Squadron, took third place with 156 points.
“My favorite part is always the team awards,” Jones said. “We come here at a team, we shoot as a team, we execute as a team, everything is done as a team.”
The team from the 192nd Security Forces Squadron took the first place, with 2,376.5 points; and two teams from the 183rd RTI took second and third place, with 2,294.5 and 2,181.5 points respectively.
Winners received an AR500 knock-down target laser engraved with the symbol of the RTI’s marksmanship training unit and their achievement. “It’s not just a piece of cardboard, or something like that, it’s a tool that we use to be proficient and we think it’s the most appropriate trophy to reward your marksmanship excellence with,” Jones explained.
Additionally, the team from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, which included both Stemmler and Potts, won the Bowling Pin Match and received a bowling pin in recognition of their success.
In addition to the awards ceremony, new recipients of the Governor’s Twenty tab were also called forward to be recognized and to receive their tab. The Governor’s Twenty program identifies the top 20 rifle and pistol shooters in the state and the tab is a state award that Soldiers can wear on their left shoulder.
“It’s a state award,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Stemmler, a platoon sergeant, assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “A lot of times people ask you about it, and it’s a good advertising tool for the competitions as well because from there it’s a talking point and then they get interested.”
Tech Sgt. James Allison, assigned to the 192nd Security Forces Squadron, competed for the first time at this year’s pistol match and said he didn’t know what to expect.
“It’s been a little different,” Allison said of the event. “It incorporates both the combat and marksmanship type shooting and now that we know what kind of competition it is and how they do things, we can hopefully make ourselves a little better.”
Allison said he enjoyed the camaraderie he encountered both from his fellow Airmen and also with the Soldiers he competed against. “It’s a shooter’s community,” he said.
“I think my favorite part is the combined arms match,” explained Stemmler. “It’s more realistic […] and that’s important because at the end of the day, our job is to go and fight the bad guys, to go and fight the nation’s wars and by adding that realistic training into these events it just furthers our lethality when we head down range.”
The combined arms match was the final shooting event of the weekend, and it required two-person teams to start inside a parked vehicle. At the sound of the starting buzzer, shooters maneuvered into position and engaged a target with six rounds before opening the trunk of the vehicle, pulling out a shotgun and shooting three steel targets before running to a second location and firing on six steel plates. Finally, if any rounds were left, shooters then engaged a paper target.
The Virginia National Guard holds both a rifle and pistol match each year, in May and June respectively. Both Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard are invited to participate. To learn more about the matches and other marksmanship-related events in the state, visit the Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit on Facebook.
More on this event:
Photos: Va. Guard’s 183rd RTI hosts pistol match at Fort Pickett – June 24, 2017
Photos: Marksmanship excellence recognized following pistol match – June 25, 2017