Earning the Governor’s Twenty Tab

Soldiers compete for marksmanship honors in TAG Pistol Match

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen compete in the Adjutant General’s Pistol Match June 28, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va. Over 30 Soldiers and Airmen from units across the state participated in the event, as both members of a team and as individual shooters. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute announced the approval of the Governor’s Twenty Tab July 21, 2014. The Governor’s Twenty Tab is a state-level marksmanship award, originally created in 1968 by the Missouri National Guard and has been adopted by 13 other states. The tab is awarded to the top 20 pistol and rifle marksmen in the Virginia National Guard.

“With this new award we are able to better advertise our program and reward our Soldiers for their marksmanship excellence,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sammy E. Jones, state marksmanship coordinator, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.

The tab is worn on the upper-left sleeve of the Army Combat Uniform, below individual tabs and above unit and honor guard tabs. Because this award is a state-level award, Soldiers under federal mobilization are not authorized to wear the award. Members of the Air National Guard are authorized to earn the award, but are not authorized to afix the tab onto their Airman Battle Uniform. However, both services recognize the tab as a state award and it is reflected on the service members’ official personnel record, though there are no promotion points for the award.

“Nobody knew that we had a state program, our original marksmanship training program was forgotten during the ramp up after 9/11, but eventually they assigned a full-time Soldier to manage the program at the RTI to represent and advertise the program,” Jones said. Participation in military and civilian-sponsored small arms marksmanship competitions offer Soldiers and Airmen the opportunity to refine marksmanship skills, compete against other military and civilian marksmen, and earn superior marksmanship awards in addition to the Army basic marksmanship awards available through annual qualification standards.

“Now Soldiers that have qualified as an expert marksman since basic can see other Soldiers walking around with this ‘Governor’s Twenty’ tab and ask questions, ” explained Jones. “Now those Soldiers can be around like-minded individuals, go shoot, and really spend time learning their craft.”

Jones said that RTI has taken on the program as an additional duty and while it has no dedicated full-time support, it does provide an opportunity for Soldiers and Airmen who love shooting and teaching.

Competitions aren’t just about winning awards though. The ability to shoot accurately is a basic combat skill.

The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute announced the approval of the Governor’s Twenty Tab July 21, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit)

The Fort Pickett-based Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute announced the approval of the Governor’s Twenty Tab July 21, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit)

“It is an important skill—it’s pretty much what every Soldier or Airman learns to do first,” said Jones. “When it comes to putting boots on the ground, putting accurate fire downrange is most important.”

Jones uses his marksmanship expertise to positively affect his fellow leaders and Soldiers. He serves with other Soldiers on the team to pass along that knowledge and skills.

“Our shooters and our instructors have close to 400,000 rounds per person over their careers. Each press of the trigger is knowledge and each shooter can then pass that knowledge down to members of their teams, and eventually back to their units’ marksmanship programs,” said Jones.

In addition to the Governor’s Twenty Tab, Soldiers are eligible to earn points towards the Excellence in Competition badges. The Marksmanship Advisory Council arranges several small arms championships and matches each year around the nation and are sponsored by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in North Little Rock, Ark. Soldiers compete for points at these MAC state, regional and national-level matches. Points are awarded for placing in the top 10% of eligible competitors at each match.

EIC points can be earned at the state level as well. Each shooter may compete in up to four EIC events each year.

A bronze EIC badge is awarded to Army competitors who earn their first credit points, regardless of credit point value. A silver EIC badge is awarded to individuals who earn 20 points. The highest level is the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge, which are awarded after earning 30 EIC points and participating in the Winston P. Wilson National Guard Championship, Army Reserve Small Arms Championship, U.S. Army Small Arms Championship, inter-service championships, or national trophy matches.

Active duty and reserve component service members compete to earn the President’s Hundred Tab which is presented to the 100 top-scoring U.S. military and vivilian shooters at the President’s Pistol and President’s Rifle Matches. The President’s Hundred Tab started in 1878 at the American Military Rifle Championship Match, which was patterned after an event for British Volunteers called the Queen’s Match.

The 2014 Governor’s Twenty recipients:

  • Sgt. Steven Fletcher, A Co. 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Staff Sgt. Chad Stigall, 1033rd Engineer Support Co., 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command; Rifle
  • Master Sgt. Owen Elliott, Operations Co., 29th Infantry Division; Rifle
  • Staff Sgt. Tony Hancock, 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment; Rifle
  • Sgt. Jeremy Steffel, A Co., 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Staff Sgt.Michael Wells, B Co., 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Pfc. Jon Wheless, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Sgt. Derrick Rine, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Staff Sgt.Michael Nguyen, D Co., 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Rifle
  • Sgt. 1st Class Ross Lockard, Fort Pickett, Manuever Training Center; Rifle
  • Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Jones, 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment; Pistol
  • Sgt. William Kelley, A Co., 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Pistol
  • Sgt. 1st Class Joel Kliesen, 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment; Pistol
  • Master Sgt.Brian Coleman, Headquarters Detachment, 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment; Pistol
  • Sgt. John Lora, 189th Engineer Co., 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command; Pistol
  • Sgt. 1st Class Earnest Carila, 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment; Pistol
  • Spc. John Miller, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Pistol
  • Pfc. Zachary Wilson, C Co., 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Pistol
  • Staff Sgt. Mark Kramer, 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, 192nd Flight Wing; Pistol
  • Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Stemmler, C Co., 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; Pistol

The primary purpose of the Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit is to develop, train, sustain and improve individual and unit combat readiness within the Virginia Army and Air National Guard and to provide marksmanship training and a competitive program at all levels while selecting Virginia’s top shooters to compete at regional and national events.

Learn more about the State Marksmanship Program at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaMarksmanshipTrainingUnit