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NEWS | May 7, 2024

VNG hosts ROTC marksmanship match at Fort Barfoot

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

ROTC cadets from six Virginia universities came together for a marksmanship match hosted by the Virginia National Guard’s Marksmanship Training Unit, as well as the state’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. The event, held April 19-21, 2024, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia, was dubbed the 2024 ROTC College Clash Marksmanship Competition and included 59 cadets from schools including George Mason University, James Madison University, Liberty University, Radford University, Virginia Tech and the Virginia Military Institute.

Over the course of two days, the cadets tested and honed their marksmanship skills. They competed first as individuals on both rifle and pistol, engaging targets from various distances and from different firing positions. The final match was a team event that required shooters to work in two-person teams and rapidly move through multiple stations, engaging targets with rifles, pistols and a shotgun. 

“I had a really good time,” said Cadet Layla Miller, an ROTC cadet enrolled in Radford’s nursing program and the Virginia National Guard’s Simultaneous Membership Program, or SMP. “I shoot shogun competitively, but I don’t shoot rifle, but it was really fun. I had a great time and I liked the three-gun [team] event because it was a lot of moving parts. I wasn’t great at it, but I still had a great time.” 


Once the rounds were expended and the scores tallied, cadets from VMI swept the competition, taking the top spots in both individual pistol and rifle categories, as well as conquering the podium in the team event. 

Col. Jaycee Shaver, the Fort Barfoot garrison commander, presided over the ceremony, and thanked the cadets for their participation and willingness to serve in America’s military. 

“There’s a lot of folks out there who want to join the military and they can’t because they don’t meet the physical requirements, they don’t meet the mental requirements or they don’t meet the moral requirements,” Shaver said. “So thank you for stepping up and doing what you do.”

Shaver also discussed the importance of events like the marksmanship match, which focuses on one of the most basic of Soldier skills. 

“What you did for the last couple of days is what we call working on lethality,” Shaver said. “That’s one of our main goals and if you don’t think it’s important, just turn on the news.” 

Many of the cadets who competed at the match are, like Miller, participating in the SMP, which allows Soldiers to simultaneously serve in the ROTC program at their university, while also serving in the Virginia National Guard. 

Miller said she learned of the SMP through the recruiter at her school and that the program, for her, has been great. 

“I needed money to pay for school, and [the SMP] has aligned really well,” Miller said. “Drill is great and it’s only one weekend a month, and then you get your state and federal tuition assistance, and I’m getting my GI Bill, so really, I’m making money out of it. I don’t hate it.” 

Cadet Raiden Alston, a Radford student, said he wanted to join the SMP to improve his Soldier skills and learn more about the experiences of the Soldiers he will someday lead as an officer.

“I wanted some sort of taste of what the Soldiers I’m expected to lead will go through, just so I can be better at understanding and be able to relate to them on some level,” Alston said. 

Alston, originally from southwest Virginia, said he volunteered to shoot at the ROTC match because he enjoys shooting and wanted to improve his skills. 

Similarly, Cadet Braydon Johnson, a Virginia Tech student studying computer science who grew up in New Jersey, said he started shooting recreationally “later in life,” and was excited for the chance to improve his skills. 

“I don’t have as much experience with shooting as some of the other cadets that came here or people who have grown up shooting, so I’m here just to grow my skills and increase my camaraderie with my teammates,” Johnson said. 

The Virginia National Guard intends to make the ROTC marksmanship match an annual event and aims to increase participation from other Virginia colleges and universities. 

At the close of the weekend, Lt. Col. Christina Perronie, commander of the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute’s 3rd Battalion, which includes the MTU, provided a few closing remarks to the cadets. 

“Thank you for everything you do, and everything you’re going to do,” Perronie said. “I hope you feel as proud as I do every day when you put this uniform on and I look forward to seeing you all next year.” 

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