Virginia Guard marksmen excel at regional and international shooting competitions

All Guard International Combat Team Member Army Sgt. Steven Fletcher of the Virginia Army National Guard fires during the Advanced Fleeting Encounter Assessment June 25, 2016 at Army Training Centre Pirbright, Woking, England. This assessment required him to engage moving targets while moving to various locations to maintain cover and concealment while firing. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Memory Strickland, 119th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

All Guard International Combat Team Member Army Sgt. Steven Fletcher of the Virginia Army National Guard fires during the Advanced Fleeting Encounter Assessment June 25, 2016 at Army Training Centre Pirbright, Woking, England. This assessment required him to engage moving targets while moving to various locations to maintain cover and concealment while firing. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Memory Strickland, 119th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — A team of Virginia National Guard shooters were recognized as some of the best in the 2016 Marksmanship Advisory Council Region II Regional Marksmanship Sustainment Exercise in both the rifle and pistol competitions Aug. 25-28, 2016, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvannia. Eleven Soldiers represented Virginia in three teams, and the competition tested the marksmanship skills of thirteen teams made up of over fifty Army and Air National Guard members. Soldiers and Airmen fired a variety of weapons including the M16, M9, and M500 on a number of different ranges.

“Team Virginia put in a lot of hard work on and off the range, conducting live fire practices and hours upon hours of dry fire further honing their skills. Their hard work was apparent at regionals, where they stood shoulder to shoulder with the best shooters in our region resulting in a 2nd place finish overall and several other 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes as well,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Jones, state marksmanship coordinator.

Staff Sgt. David Paquette, Staff Sgt. Tony Hancock, Staff Sgt. Chad Stigall, and First Sgt. Ronald Chipper placed second overall as a team in the combined arms portion as well as second place in the Bianchi Battle match. The Bianchi Battle match is a team event that consists of obstacles and the use of rifle, pistol, and shotgun disciplines. Paquette was awarded a pistol for placing 1st in the novice – combined arms category as well as third place in Rifle Aggregate.

Team Virginia – Bravo was comprised of Sgt. Justin Linker, Sgt. John Lora, Spc. Shah Jamal, and Staff Sgt. Jason Young. Team Virginia – Charlie was comprised of Joel Kliesen, Sgt. John Miller, and Sgt. Michael Birshing.

In addition to the success of Paquette, Sgt. John Miller of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, also placed individually. Miller placed 1st on the Reflexive Fire match, 2nd on the Rifle Aggregate, 3rd on the Combined Arms Aggregate, and 3rd place on the Special Zero match.

“I couldn’t be happier with their successes and the success of the program,” Jones said. “Very few Soldiers have the opportunity to train in combat style shooting events like these and the team members are gaining invaluable knowledge as they prepare for worldwide deployments.”

Among the most significant of achievements by the Virginia National Guard’s Marksmanship Team is that two members of the Virginia National Guard were selected and competed in the All Guard International Combat Team England this summer, winning the Fortuna Trophy for the first time in fifteen years on Jun 27, 2016 at Army Training Centre Pirbright, Woking, England.

The All Guard International Combat Team consists of the best combat shooters in the Guard. The Fortuna is a completion between the United States National Guard and the British Army Reserve. It consists of four matches: the Defense Assessment, the Advance to Contact, the Pistol Close Quarter Battle, and the Urban Contact Assessment- Rifle. Of the team members who pulled this off as representatives on the All Guard Team, included two Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard: Sgt. Jeremy Steffel, of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116h Brigade Combat Team and Sgt. Steven Fletcher, of Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th IBCT.

“The state marksmanship program is an excellent program,” said Sgt. Jeremy Steffel, member of the state marksmanship program and All Guard Team member. “Additionally, I am very honored to be one of the few to be selected for the All Guard Team and to compete for the Fortuna Trophy. We all supported one another and we came to England with one goal and that was to obtain the Fortuna Trophy which we all achieved as a team. Not one was better than the rest. We achieved this accomplishment together.”

Both Steffel and Fletcher are currently in Ottawa, Ontario where they are preparing for next year’s Fortuna by attending the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration.

For more information on the program, visit the Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaMarksmanshipTrainingUnit/