~ 2017 Winston P. Wilson Machine Gun Match Results
By Maj. Theresa L. Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. —
Over 20 teams gathered, from as far away as Hawaii to a few here in Arkansas, to compete in the 2017 Winston P. Wilson (WPW) Machine Gun Matches hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC) held at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, Ark. May 21-25, 2017.
Michigan National Guard won the title of overall team champions, taking home 25 awards proving themselves as a force to be reckoned with. However, they appreciated this opportunity to work on skills that they don’t have time to focus on at home, according to Michigan team member Sgt. Kyle Gietzen assigned to 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“Bringing home awards gets others excited to shoot and learn what we know,” said Gietzen, “taking home what we learned and sharing it with others.”
When attending competitions there are new shooters as well as seasoned shooters, which allows for opportunities to share knowledge. Sgt. Joshua Frick infantryman assigned to 239th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, hopes to someday shoot on the same level as those seasoned shooters, however in the meantime he plans to take back to his unit what he learns while at the competition.
“This gives us the opportunity to train the trainer,” said Frick, “training our lower enlisted, and bettering themselves on their weapons systems as an individual and as a gun crew.”
Not only do they take away train the trainer skills, but they, also, have more time here to focus on their techniques, tactics and procedures than they do at home during drill.
“We get to work on skills you don’t at home; focusing on crew drills, barrel changes, working as a two-man element, relying on team members, and stress from running in matches like you would in combat,” said Gietzen.
Everyone interviewed said they learned new techniques and skills to take home and share.
“Focusing on single shot groups instead of just burst fire,” is one new technique mentioned by Nebraska National Guard Machine gunner, Staff Sgt. Thomas Shirey, 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
He continued, “This teaches us to be more accurate instead of just spraying and praying, and more efficient with our use of ammo by focusing on fundamentals and accuracy.”
Not only did the machine gunners take away valuable training, but, also, the assistant gunner’s (AG).
“I learned a lot more here as an AG: spotting and telling the shooter where he is impacting, where as when we are back home the AG is used mainly as a pack mule,” said Nebraska National Guard team member Sgt. Casey Edelman, 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“Here both AG and shooter have to shoot, but at home it depends on time and ammo if the AG gets the opportunity to fire,” continued Edelman.
Competitions not only allow competitors to see how they measure up, but if what they are being taught at home, also, measures up.
“Competition breeds excellence,” said Gietzen, “competing against others in the nation; you could be best in state, but when you come here you test your skills against other top guys from other states.”
“This shows our leadership if we have been trained properly or if we need to change things up,” he added.
After a week of long grueling days, learning, rehearsing and testing their skills, all competitors, instructors, and staff gathered to see who are the WPW National Guard Machine Gun Team winners.
Champions: Sgt. David Dohnal and Sgt. Cameron Higgs, Michigan National Guard Team Bravo, with the best combined aggregate place value of 41 with three 1st Place wins
Overall 2nd place: Sgt. Kyle Gietzen and Sgt. Jared Parahm, Michigan National Guard Team Spartan, with the best combined aggregate place value of 41 with two 1st Place wins
Overall 3rd place: Vermont National Guard Team Catamounts, with the best combined aggregate place value of 66
WPW Machine Gun Match Top Machine Gunner
Champion: Sgt. David Dohnal, Michigan National Guard Team Spartan, with the best combined aggregate place value of 18 with three 1st place wins
2nd place: Staff Sgt. Thomas Davis, Colorado National Guard Team Alpha, with the best combined aggregate place value of 21
3rd place: Sgt. Kyle Gietzen, Michigan National Guard Team Spartan, with the best combined aggregate place value of 25 with one 1st place win
WPW Machine Gun Match Top Assistant Gunner
Champion: Sgt. Jared Parahm, Michigan National Guard Team Spartan, with the best combined aggregate place value of 23 with one 1st place win
2nd place: Staff Sgt. Shaun Rase, Arkansas National Guard Team Arkansas, with the best combined aggregate place value of 32 with two 1st place wins
3rd place: Staff Sgt. George Daniel, Vermont National Guard Team Bravo, with the best combined aggregate place value of 34 with one 1st place win
Take a look at the video link below to view some of the training conducted at this year’s WPW Machine Gun Championships. Also, for more information about getting involved, contact Maj. Dwayne Page 501-212-4531 or visit us on the web at https://ngmtc.wordpress.com.
2017 WPW Machine Gun in Review Slideshow