NEWS | Sept. 11, 2016

The Adjutant General's Combat Marksmanship Competition

By Sgt. Heidi Kroll 172nd Public Affairs Detachment

Over 300 Vermont Guardsmen participate in the Adjutant General’s Combat Marksmanship Competition held on Sept. 10 and 11 at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vt. There are four areas of competition: combat rifle, pistol, machine gun, and sniper. These competitions test guardsmen on how fast they can react to pop-up targets, memorize items, adjust weapons systems under stressful situations, and fire their designated weapon, which are all basic marksmanship skills.

“This is a training and a competition event, allowing you to evaluate your skills against others,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Cheney, infantryman, Small Arms Readiness Training Section, Vermont National Guard.

Shooting skills are important to guardsmen, as shooting is required of all members of the Vermont National Guard. Units are encouraged to register as many guardsmen as they can for this competition.

“This competition really helps to reinforce the basic shooting fundamentals,” said Spc. John Cooper, infantryman, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard.

The sniper competitors will have targets ranging from 25-1,000 meters. During one of their shooting sequences, that starts off with a ruck march, the guardsmen will have to memorize items on a table, complete the march, shoot and then remember the items on the table in the correct order.

“This event is a great training, it provides more diversity in shooting than we normally do at our units, helping us to become better shooters,” said Spc. Daniel Rousseau, infantryman, C troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Calvary Regiment (Mountain), Vermont National Guard.

The ability to remember key details during stressful missions or situations is important. Having competitions that focus on skills guardsmen need to have in the field ensures that the Vermont National Guard is always prepared for any mission.

During the Limited Visibility Machine Gun Match, guardsmen will shoot three 50 round belts at targets 200, 300, and 400 meters away from the shooter. The pop-up target is a single silhouette that is on a timer, which a guardsman needs to locate, aim the machine gun and fire 50 rounds on target within the time allotted.

Pop-up targets teach guardsmen to keep their head on a swivel and notice and react to fast changes in their environment. It is important to be able to react quickly when performing other Soldier tasks such as locating a target, finding a location on a map, or getting an aircraft into the air.

“It is a really great morale builder, helps me on an individual basis to compete against the clock,” said Spc. Henry Stone, mechanic, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, Vermont National Guard. There are timed events for each weapon system.

“This competition gets the younger guardsmen into marksmanship. Shooting fundamentals and marksmanship is what this is all about,” said Master Sgt. Clem Devlin, marksmanship coordinator, 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont National Guard.

The members for the team events for this competition have to come from the same unit or squadron. Having a unit train for this competition, working on marksmanship together, increases the morale of the unit.

“I think it’s a great thing the Airmen look forward to each year. The friendly competition keeps everyone upping their game,” said Chief Master Sgt. Peter Noble, mission support group superintendent, 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont National Guard.

When the results from all four shooting events are totaled, the top 20 best shooters will receive a “Governor’s Twenty” tab that they will be able to wear on their uniform. The Governors Twenty Tab is a state-level National Guard award created in 1968.

There are 19 different opportunities for guardsmen to receive trophies for their shooting. Guardsmen that do well in this competition can be selected for further competitions to represent the State of Vermont at national levels.

At the end of this two-day competition, guardsmen will know where they stand against their peers. They will have spent more time operating their weapon system than normal on qualification day. Guardsmen increase their proficiency by reinforcing the basic marksmanship skills. As we all say in the military...trigger time is always a good time.