National Guard displays lethal skills during United Kingdom Marksmanship Competition

The 2018 Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition prize giving ceremony
The All Guard International Combat Team pose for a photo with the Fortuna Trophy at the end of the Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition Prize Giving Ceremony. The team achieved their goal winning this trophy, which is a collective high score of four events and is a long standing competition between the British Reserve and the U.S. National Guard. (LEFT to RIGHT: FRONT- Maj. David Stapp, Sgt. Maxium Nickerson, Sgt. Tyler Goldade, Staff Sgt. Michael Richey. BACK- Col. Marty Curtright, Spc. Jeremy McCombs, Master Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser, Staff Sgt. Brandon Hornung, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, Capt. Robert Lee, 1st Lt. Garrett Miller.)

Click here for photos from the Matches and Ceremony.

~ 2018 United Kingdom Defence Operational Shooting Competition
by Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center

NATIONAL SHOOTING CENTRE, BISLEY CAMP, England –The sun beats down on two machine gunners, from Delta and Charlie Team, as they lay prone on the grass providing suppressive fire at enemy targets 600 meters away, while their riflemen sprint forward on line with them completing their eight-man section.

As Charlie team sees the enemy appear, they leap forward into a sprint, moving up and down hills and jumping over trenches to take a prone firing position just 100 meters forward. As soon as they open fire on the enemy, Delta team takes off in a dead sprint maneuvering these same obstacles to move online with them.

Sweat pours as each team member, wearing at least 22 pounds of gear and body armor not including their helmet, weapon and ammunition, continues this explosive bounding forward maneuvering these earthen obstacles until they are 300 meters from the enemy, and within the range of the average Soldier’s marksmanship ability. They continue forward 200 meters, riflemen taking a kneeling firing position and machine gunners prone, as they take out the remainder of the enemy targets with a fierce lethality.

Reminiscent of combat environments, this was just one of over 24 different operational “combat style” shooting matches conducted at the 2018 United Kingdom Defence Operational Shooting Competitions (DefOSC) held June 17-26, 2018 at Bisley Camp and the Army Training Centre Pirbright, Woking, England.

The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
1st Lt. Garrett Miller, All Guard International Combat Team member from Pennsylvania Army National Guard, engages his final targets 100 meters away after having just ran five 100 meter sprints  while engaging targets every 100-200 meters along the way. This was one of several events in the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018.

During the Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition portion of DefOSC, the National Guard All Guard International Combat Team displayed their lethal skills winning first place in five matches and placing top three in 11 of the 13 matches.

“This competition was challenging and more realistic in regards to combat type shooting than other matches we shoot,” said All Guard Team Member Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, with the Missouri National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters.

“All the events were like combat,” said All Guard Team Member 1st Lt. Garrett Miller, with the 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment Penn. Army National Guard. “Each event was custom tailored to apply competitive pressure to the participants in different ways.”

The 2018
Capt. Robert Lee (center) and Sgt. Brandon Hornung (right), All Guard International Combat Team members, compete in the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018. During this event, the camaraderie that is fostered between the Soldiers of United Kingdom and United States is clearly evident from Capt. Lee’s display of the United Kingdom Flag on his helmet during these matches. Patch swapping is a common practice among competitors.

Being lethal in combat is not an easy task. One of most challenging parts to this competition, similar to combat, was the speed required to move into position and engage the targets.

“The competitors are challenged to sprint 100 meters forward, charge their rifle, obtain a steady position and fire as many rounds as possible at a 100 meter target in just 25 seconds, then remain in position and fire the rest of the remaining rounds of a 20 round magazine in 35 seconds at a 200 meter and 300 meter target. Then from there the match moves right into three more phases without any reprieve,” said Miller as he described the Attack and Reorganize Assessment.

Describing the Urban Contact Assessment event, Richey said “100-300 meter targets would expose themselves for only three or four seconds, during which time we had to go from the standing position to the kneeling position and engage the target.”

As if the speed of movement and target engagement was not enough of a challenge, and ease of movement was further impacted by the pounds of gear and body armor they were required to wear, which is a similar requirement for combat.

The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
Spc. Jeremy McCombs, All Guard International Combat Team member from Colorado Army National Guard, takes cover behind a “hasty firing position” and engages rapidly moving targets 100 meters down range during the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018.

“It was difficult to balance the thrill of charging forward and diving into position, with the need to calmly place shots center mass in each target before the time expired,” said Miller, “oh, and all while wearing body armor, plates, and ten kilograms (22 pounds) of kit.”

“The requirement to wear body armor and gear during the match, greatly increased fatigue throughout the competition and also heart rate during the course of fire,” added Richey.

The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, All Guard International Combat Team member from Missouri Army National Guard, fires his M16 Rifle after running 100 meters to his firing point during the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018. Richey was the winner of the Urban Contact Assessment Match, which tests the Soldiers ability to effectively engage targets with the complication of speed and accuracy using the pistol and rifle.

While the individual aspects of the competition were challenging and combat oriented, the team matches seemed to be most like combat.

“The team matches were most like combat situations,” said Michael Richey, Missouri National Guard. “You had to shoot, move and communicate as a team, which is what you’ll be doing in combat.”

The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
Staff Sgt. Brandon Hornung, All Guard International Combat Team member from Illinois Army National Guard, quickly moves from engaging targets in the kneeling position to establish a good firing position in the foxhole during a match in the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018.

Representing the U.S. National Guard All Guard International Combat Team were 10 members and two team managers who included:

  • Maj. David Stapp, team OIC, Arkansas National Guard
  • Master Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser, team NCOIC, Pennsylvania National Guard
  • Capt. Robert Lee, team member, Texas National Guard
  • 1st Lt. Garrett Miller, team member, Pennsylvania National Guard
  • Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Catlin, team member, Colorado National Guard
  • Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, team member, Iowa National Guard
  • Sgt. 1st Class David Keenom, team member, Tennessee National Guard
  • Staff Sgt. Brandon Hornung, team member, Illinois National Guard
  • Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, team member, Missouri National Guard
  • Sgt. Tyler Goldade, team member, North Dakota National Guard
  • Sgt. Maxium Nickerson, team member, Vermont National Guard
  • Spc. Jeremy McCombs, team member, Colorado National Guard
The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competiton
Left to Right: FRONT- Master Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser, Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, Spc. Jeremy McCombs, Capt. Robert Lee, Sgt. Maxium Nickerson, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Catlin. BACK: Maj. David Stapp, Sgt. 1st Class David Keenom, Staff Sgt. Brandon Hornung, Sgt. Tyler Goldade, 1st Lt. Garrett Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, Col. Marty Curtright, Staff Sgt. James Carr.

All Guard Team came here with the main goal of winning the Fortuna Trophy, and pushing themselves to their limits, they did that and more.

“The competition for the Fortuna is between the United States National Guard and the British Army Reserve,” said Neiderhiser. “It consists of four matches: the Advance to Contact, Defence Assessment, Pistol Close Quarter Battle, and Urban Contact Assessment-Rifle.”

In addition to the Fortuna Trophy, several other awards were won by the team and individual members:

  • Fire Team Combat Snap Shooting Assessment – Team
  • Fortuna Cup (highest individual aggregate on the Fortuna winning team) – Miller
  • Advance to Contact (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy)- Miller
  • Pistol Close Quarter Combat (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy) – Deugan
  • Urban Contact Assessment (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy) – Richey
  • Fleeting Encounter – McCombs
The 2018 Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition prize giving ceremony
The National Guard All Guard International Combat Team won the Best International Team Fortuna Trophy as well as five individual trophies during the 2018 Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition at Bisley Ranges, Pirbright, England June 24, 2018. Awards from LEFT to RIGHT and winner name: Fortuna Cup (highest individual aggregate on the Fortuna winning team) – 1st Lt. Miller, Pistol Close Quarter Combat (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy) – Sgt. 1st Class Deugan, Fire Team Combat Snap Shooting Assessment – Team award, Advance to Contact (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy)- 1st Lt. Miller, Urban Contact Assessment (Contributes to Fortuna Trophy) – Staff Sgt. Richey (Not shown: Fleeting Encounter – Spc. McCombs)

“Winning matches that utilize rifle and pistol show how well-rounded of a shooter you are,” said Richey. “It felt good to win a combined rifle and pistol match.”

“Winning the Fortuna Cup,” said Miller, “is what I consider the highest honor I could possibly achieve at any operational shooting competition, because of the other names that are inscribed on it.”

He continued, “Every year, the trophy is engraved with the winner’s name. There are two names in particular that have great relevance to me, 1st Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser, and Capt. J.R. Treharne. Now Master Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser and Col. J.R. Treharne, have both served as influential coaches and professional mentors to me since I was a young Cadet. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today as a competitor and a Soldier if it wasn’t for their mentorship. Knowing that my name will be forever displayed next to theirs on that trophy pays special tribute not just to my achievement, but their skill and passion as coaches and professionals.”

The All Guard Team not only accomplished their goal, winning the Fortuna and many other honors, but the most important thing they gained was better combat oriented marksmanship skills and knowledge to bring back to the U.S.

The 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
Capt. Robert Lee, All Guard International Combat Team member from Texas Army National Guard, engages targets from various shooting positions seen here: the log, the metal arch, the rock pit and the broken wall during on one of the matches in the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018.

“This competition helps us validate our training methods and strategies,” said Miller.

“Soldiers from all ranks, MOS’s, status and levels, attend and try their best. This multi-echelon exposure allows everyone to progress much faster than they normally would with just isolated training back at their home unit. Here they can pick and choose tactics and techniques they observe from Soldiers standing right next to them on the firing line and bring those back to their home unit. “

“This competition was challenging and more realistic in regards to combat type shooting than other matches we shoot,” said Richey. “Our team participating in this competition enables us to bring that challenging and realistic style of shooing back to our respective states.”

2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition
Sgt. Maxium Nickerson, All Guard International Combat Team member from Vermont Army National Guard, reviews his targets and scorecard with the United Kingdom Soldier after the Urban Contact Assessment Matchin the 2018 UK Defence Operational Shooting Competition that was held jointly at Bisley Camp and the Army Reserve Training Centre Pirbright, England during June 12-26, 2018. This specific match required the Soldier to fire with rifle while advancing and shooting from the standing and squatting positions and then switch to the pistol while continuing to advance towards the target.

These competitions are training multipliers that need more attention and participation.

“This is a powerful tool that goes under-appreciated because some units and naive commanders call these small competitions “shooting clubs” and restrict attendance, because they don’t see the real training and exposure they provide,” said Miller. “Sharing these ideas through open competitions creates positive trends in developing marksmanship that spreads ten fold faster than it would just trickling down through a traditional training progression.”

To find out more about how to participate contact the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at 501-212-4420/4517/4520 and ng.ar.ararng.mbx.ngmtc@mail.mil or visit us on Facebook.

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