Va. Guard TAG Pistol Match invites Soldiers to show off marksmanship skills

Virginia Guard Soldiers from units spread across the commonwealth compete in the Adjutant General's Pistol Match, held June 21-23, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va. The competition included seven matches and allowed Soldiers to compete as individual shooters and as members of shooting teams. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia Guard Soldiers from units spread across the commonwealth compete in the Adjutant General’s Pistol Match, held June 21-23, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va. The competition included seven matches and allowed Soldiers to compete as individual shooters and as members of shooting teams. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Fifty Virginia Guard Soldiers from units across the commonwealth traveled to Fort Pickett June 21-23, 2013, to compete against the best pistol shooters in the state at the Adjutant General’s Pistol Match hosted by the Virginia Guard’s Marksmanship Training Unit.

“TAG matches are designed for shooters that have excelled at the unit level,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Jones, assistant state marksmanship coordinator. “The results from the TAG matches are used to select the Virginia National Guard’s top shooters to represent Virginia at the regional and national level matches.”

The competition included a total of six matches designed to test the competitor’s marksmanship skills in a variety of ways. Among the different matches the Soldiers encountered were the pie plate match, which consisted of 12 eight-inch steel plates that the competitors engaged from a distance of approximately 15 yards, and the multiple target engagement match, fired from 15 yards are requiring shooters to execute a body armor drill, which includes two shots to the torso and one to the head in four seconds.

Team matches included the General George Patton combat pistol team match which required shooters to run 300 yards in two minutes or less to engage six targets at distances of 25-35 yards, as well as the bowling pin match, a timed event where teams are given 20 rounds to engage eight bowling pins at approximately 20 yards.

“Not only do these matches create opportunities for the shooters but it also identifies their strengths and weaknesses with the weapon system,” Jones explained. “The shooters walk away with successes and lessons learned that will improve their performance and the performance of their Soldiers.”

The top three individual shooters were Sgt. Jason Young, from the 180th Horizontal Construction Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, who took first place; Sgt. Tony Hancock, from Headquarters Company, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, took second; and Sgt. Corey Collings, from the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, took third. Young also earned the 1st place novice award.

The top three Excellence in Competition shooters were Sgt. William Kelley, from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, who earned the first place spot; Hancock, who placed second; and Master Sgt. Brian Coleman from the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.

The first place team was called Team Ripper and included Young, Hancock, Sgt. John Lora, and Staff Sgt. Jon Faulkner. The second place team, Team Avenger, consisted of Coleman, Jones, Sgt. 1st Class Lockard, and Sgt. David Dick. Team Aries came in third, and included Sgt. Justin Wilmer, Spc. Bradley Cooper, Spc. James Darnell and Spc. Kenneth Bybee.

“One of the great things about it,” said Young of the competition. “Is it allows you interaction with other units so it develops camaraderie throughout the National Guard, but is also exposes you to shooting circumstances that you might not be exposed to as a regular Soldier.”

Young, a member of Henrico Police Force on the civilian side, was proud of the his success at the competition, and said his 12 years in law enforcement aided in reaching that success.

“I’m proud. The big benefit of that for me, hopefully, is that I can take those trophies or plaques back to my unit and show my unit that this is what I did and that this is what we have the ability to do if we send Soldiers out and allow them the opportunity to train,” Young said. “I fully endorse anyone doing this – one for the experience factor, and two, for the knowledge that you gain.”

Sgt. Heidi Gridley, a medic with Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th IBCT, said she wanted to participate in the competition because, “the first step about field medicine is being able to shoot back. You want to prevent more casualties and protect the ones you have and also eliminate the threat. “

A new addition to the pistol and rifle matches this year, was the chance to earn the Governor’s Twenty tab. The Governor’s Twenty program identifies the top 20 rifle and pistol shooters in the Virginia National Guard and, once approved, allows those shooters to wear the Governor’s Twenty tab on their left shoulder, according to Jones.

“The event went awesome,” Jones said. “It was very smooth and we had no issues or injuries to report.”

Photos: Virginia Guard holds TAG Pistol Match – June 22, 2013

Facebook Page: Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit