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NEWS | Sept. 6, 2017

Virginia Guard Soldiers, Airmen shoot at regional match

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

A group of 14 Soldiers and Airmen participated in a regional marksmanship match Aug. 25-27, 2017, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The match included shooters from two regions – Marksmanship Advisory Council Region I and II – and included approximately 120 shooters. 

“These matches…provide the opportunity for Soldiers and Airmen to practice and improve their skills beyond the basic rifle qualification once or twice a year,” explained Sgt. Alexandra Wilson, assigned to the Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center. This year, Wilson became the first female to win a Virginia National Guard marksmanship match and to earn the Governor’s Twenty tab. 

At the match, Virginia shooters were divided into three teams – Alpha, Bravo and Charlie – and included both novice shooters and veterans of the marksmanship matches. They competed as both individuals and as members of their team. They fired both rifle and pistol, in different matches, all designed to test their marksmanship abilities. 

“The variety of courses of fire lets shooters experience something out of their comfort zone and see how good they really are at shooting under stress and as a member of a team,” Wilson explained. 

With this year’s regional match bringing together shooters from two regions, teams and individuals were scored both at the combined region level and the individual region level. 

For the combined region, Virginia’s Alpha Team took 1st place for overall rifle aggregate, 3rd place in the overall pistol aggregate and 3rd place in the combined arms rifle and pistol aggregate. Alpha Team included Wilson, as team captain; Sgt. John Miller, assigned to 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Staff Sgt. Larry Smithson, assigned to Charlie Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT; and Tech. Sgt. James Allison, assigned to the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Security Forces Squadron. 

Within MAC I, Virginia Soldiers and Airmen managed to secure several top spots, both as a team and as individuals. 

Virginia’s Alpha Team earned top marks as the region’s 1st place rifle team, 2nd place pistol team, 2nd place overall team, and they scored 3rd place in the Patton Match. 

Individually, Staff Sgt. Mark Benjamin Kramer, assigned to the 203rd RED HORSE, placed first in the Rifle Reflexive Fire Match. Miller earned 2nd place in the rifle aggregate while Wilson placed 3rd in the combat pistol match, the pistol aggregate and the individual combined rifle and pistol aggregate. Allison earned high novice marks for the rifle Excellence in Competition Match, and Smithson earned high novice marks for both the individual pistol aggregate and the combined rifle and pistol aggregate. 

“This supports the nation and the reality of modern combat,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Joel Kliesen, marksmanship coordinator for the Virginia National Guard. “No longer do we have nation states engaging in large scale maneuver warfare with clearly defined sides and readily identifiable combatants. We have combatants who are otherwise indistinguishable from noncombatants. […] To avoid collateral damage we have to use precision weapons and there is no more precise weapon than a well-aimed rifle.”

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