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NEWS | June 18, 2024

VNG combined arms marksmanship match held at Fort Barfoot

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

The Virginia National Guard’s Marksmanship Training Unit hosted the Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match, held May 17-19, 2024, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. The annual competition brought together approximately 50 shooters from across the state. Over the course of the match, shooters tested their skills on both rifle and pistol from a variety of distances and firing positions. 

“We try to mask training through competition,” explained Staff Sgt. Donald Arbaugh, a member of the Virginia National Guard’s Marksmanship Team and one of the organizers of the state match. “In order to help Soldiers train across the force, we utilize competitions like this to get them invested in actually competing, and before they know it, they’re expert shooters.” 

The marksmanship match provides shooters an opportunity to engage targets in ways that differ significantly from what they might encounter during their annual individual weapons qualification. Not only does the competition require shooters to employ multiple weapons, including the pistol, rifle and shotgun, but it also requires them to move under pressure and shoot from distances and in positions that many may find unfamiliar. 

“They do Rifle [Excellence in Competition], which is out to 400 yards, and we do Pistol [Excellence in Competition], which is not like a pistol qualification at all, it’s completely different, and we also shoot a little bit more close quarters, especially with the rifle,” Arbaugh explained. Shooters, who compete as both individuals and in teams, also participate in the “Bianchi Battle,” a three-gun event featuring the rifle, pistol and shotgun. 

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Stemmler, a long-time participant in the state’s marksmanship matches, said the match is an excellent test of individual marksmanship skills, and that it provides an opportunity for shooters to learn what skills they need to improve. 

“A lot of the time, you think you’re good from the flat range, and you get out here and realize you need to work on a few things,” Stemmler said. “The more you do this though, the more confident you are, and the more experience you gain, the more you can help other Soldiers.”

First-timer Spc. Bryant Reeder, assigned to Virginia Beach-based Charlie Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said he enjoyed the competition. 

“I think it’s great,” Reeder said. “I’m having a lot of fun and the vibe out here is good. Everyone is communicating with one another and just trying to do good and have fun at the same time. It’s not a harsh environment at all, or too competitive. It’s a good mix of everything.” 

Reeder said he took time to talk to a few newer shooters, as well as long-time competitors, and said, across the board, it seemed like everyone was having a good time. 

“I’ve spoken with a few of the new shooters, and they’re having a blast, and mixing really well with the more experienced people, like the guys who do this a lot, and they’re very friendly and easy to talk to,” Reeder said. 

For those Soldiers or Airmen with limited shooting experience, the match provides, at the most basic level, an opportunity to improve. 

“We’re not looking for the best shooters in the state, we’re looking for anyone within the Virginia National Guard, Army or Air, to come out and just try their hand,” Arbaugh said. “It’s really just about fellowship and training and a little bit of competition.” 

Standings for the 2024 Adjutant General’s Combined Arms Marksmanship Match: 

Excellence in Competition - Rifle:

  1. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Stemmler
  2. Spc. Charles Payne 
  3. Spc. Garret Walker 

Excellent in Competition - Pistol:

  1. Capt. Noel Robleto 
  2. Capt. Timothy Wang
  3. Staff Sgt. Bolivard Vedrine 

Top Teams: 

  1. 1st Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute
  2. 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division 

Individual Aggregate:

  1. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Stemmler
  2. Capt. Noel Robleto 
  3. Spc. Bryant Reeder 

Combined Arms Top Novice: Spc. Bryant Reeder 

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