Virginia shooters represent at regional marksmanship competition

Virginia Guard Soldiers representing the Commonwealth pose with their awards at the Marksmanship Advisory Committee Region II Marksmanship Sustainment Exercise, held Aug. 16-19 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (Photo courtesy the Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit)

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. — Twelve of the Virginia Guard’s top shooters competed Aug. 16-19 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. in a regional competition, and Virginia Guard Soldiers beat out shooters from West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware to earn several top spots in both pistol and rifle matches. The competition, called the Marksmanship Advisory Committee Region II Marksmanship Sustainment Exercise, was designed to identify the top shooters in the region and to test the marksmanship skills of the competitors.

“These events are both physically and mentally demanding and are designed to foster self-confidence and overall team solidarity,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Jones, assistant state marksmanship coordinator and marksmanship competitor. “It enforces lessons learned in combat and in competition while ensuring the success of future military operations.”

Between 49 and 60 shooters participated in each match, with the matches testing the proficiency of shooter’s marksmanship abilities in various shooting positions and at varying distances. Match RI306, the 100-500 Zero Special, a rifle match, required Soldiers to fire at 100, 300, and 500 yards in the prone position, whereas the Combat Pistol Excellence in Competition match required shooters to fire at 30, 25, 20, and 15 yards in firing positions including the standing position and prone position.

Among the top shooters from the event were Spc. Steven Fletcher, from the 29th Infantry Division, who placed second overall for combined arms. Fletcher also placed second in the individual rifle aggregate competition.

Fletcher joined Sgt. Tony Hancock, of Headquarters Company, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Staff Sgt. Dustin Seidler, also of the 29th Infantry Division, and Spc. Josh Stemmler from 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in forming Team “Shocker” and placed third overall in the team events.

Among the rifle matches, Spc. William Kelley, from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, placed second in Match RI308, the long range rifle match. Staff Sgt. Matt Stemmler, of the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute placed third in Match RI306, the 100-500 Zero Special.

In the pistol matches, Kelley took first place in the PI201M match, and Spc. Sean Kennedy, from the 266th Military Police Company, took second. Kelly placed third in the individual pistol aggregate competition.

Each day of the competition began with an early morning wake up call, after which the competitors drew their weapons and listened to a safety briefing before being broken into firing orders and heading out to test their marksmanship skills on the range. After firing in various matches, both with their teammates and individually, the competitors cleaned and turned in their weapons and began strategizing for the following day’s matches.

“Each match gives the Soldier real time data on how to balance their speed and accuracy while being effective on target,” said Jones. “The Soldiers gain knowledge of their weapons systems, learn their limitations as shooters, and tricks of the trade. Their commanders and units also gain a well-trained and experienced marksman/trainer for the unit.”

From here, the top eight Virginia Guard shooters will go forward to represent Virginia at the national marksmanship level in April 2013 in Arkansas.

“After seeing that practice makes perfect and receiving that constant feedback…we knew that we were a force to be reckoned with,” Jones said. “Standing shoulder to shoulder with the best these five states had to offer along with doing as well as we did – we can’t wait for nationals.”

Virginia Guard Soldiers interested in participating in Virginia Guard marksmanship events should look for letters of instruction posted in their local armories and for announcements on the Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit Facebook page.

To view photos from the event, visit:!/media/set/?set=a.424780680906934.107253.333718776679792