FORSCOM competitive shoot out at Fort Bragg

FORSCOM Certificate of Achievement-The US Army National Guard All Guard International Combat Team is awarded the FORSCOM Certificate of Achievement as the Overall Aggregate Team Winners at Fort Bragg, N.C. Nov. 10, 2016. Left to Right: Staff Sgt. Jacob Blount, Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, Sgt. Justus Densmore, Maj. Gen. James Brown, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Megoloff (U.S. National Guard Marksmanship Training Center photo by Maj. Dwayne Page; caption by Capt. Theresa Walker, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center)

~National Guard places 1st in 2 of 3 FORSCOM marksmanship categories

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The Army National Guard (ARNG) went head-to-head against the most elite marksmen of the active Army and the Army Reserve during this years’ U.S. Army Forces Command’s (FORSCOM) marksmanship competition Nov. 7-10, 2016 and proved to be the best marksman in FORSCOM.

The Guard was invited to participate in this years’ FORSCOM marksmanship competition, and displayed superior skills. They took 1st Place in two of three categories: Service Rifle, and M249, as well as 1st Place in Service Pistol Excellence-in-Combat (EIC) Match, 1st Place-Distinguished in Service Rifle EIC Match, and Overall Aggregate Team Winner.

Each component was to send a three-man team to compete with one weapon system each. The All Guard International Combat Team competitors selected were Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan from the Iowa ARNG on Pistol, Staff Sgt. Jacob Blount from the Illinois ARNG on SAW, and Sgt. Justus Densmore from the Texas ARNG on Rifle.

The four-day FORSCOM competition consisted of three weapon categories M9 Pistol, M4/M16 Rifle, and M249 SAW to recognize Soldiers who are beyond expert. They also held an EIC Match for Service Rifle and Service Pistol.

While this competition is to see who is the best in the Army, ultimately it is about inspiring Soldiers at the unit level to improve their marksmanship.

The FORSCOM Championship was Soldiers from all different ranks, MOS’s, and components coming together in order to compete, but also to learn from each other, according to Staff Sgt. Jacob Blount, M249 SAW competitor.

“The competitors that we have here represent close to 800,000 Soldiers who should be having competitions Army wide down at the battalion, brigade, division, and installation levels,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott C. Schroeder the highest enlisted member of U.S. Army Forces Command as reported U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Keeler.

“Competitors were also encouraged to take the opportunity to network with the other competitors,” according to Maj. Dwayne Page, one of the All Guard team managers from the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC).

While participating in the competition, “meeting all the shooters at the FORSCOM match was definitely a great opportunity to network,” shared Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, All Guard pistol competitor.

“Most of the Active Component shooters were not aware of the competitive marksmanship program in the National Guard,” reported Deugan, nor were they aware of “their ability to participate in the AFSAM [Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting, a multi-national competition hosted by the NGMTC] as an active component team.”

With this knowledge, Deugan took it upon himself to share with them.

“Quite a few of the shooters there expressed interest in shooting more matches,” said Deugan. “I have a group setup to distribute information and dates for the AFSAM and EIC matches that they can follow.”

Staff Sgt. Blount, also, took the opportunity to network.

“We discussed strategy and plans as a group prior to each stage,” said Blount, “and discussed changes that might have improved our performances after everyone finished the stage.”

Sharing strategy and techniques, between all competitors, helps increase marksmanship effectiveness among all three components.

“It was great to see how the shooters worked together and talked through techniques that did or did not work for them to improve overall as a group,” said Deugan. “The willingness to help the shooter next to you was more than abundant.”

Not only were competitors encouraged to network, but most importantly to “bring back new knowledge to their units,” said Page.

Sgt. Justus Densmore, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to 551st Multi Role Bridge Company, 386th Engineering Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, El Campo, Texas, fires two rounds into each silhouette in the Moving Targets event during the 2nd Annual Forces Command Marksmanship Competition, Nov. 8, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Moving Targets event requires competitors to engage moving targets from a specific shooting position. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Keeler / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“I have used the knowledge gained form these style matches,” said Sgt. Justus Densmore, All Guard rifle competitor, “to train three engineer companies, preparing for deployments around the world.”

Some members not only share their knowledge with their unit, but, also, go beyond to share with units across their state.

All Guard team member Staff Sgt. Blount is a member of the Illinois National Guard Small Arms Readiness and Training Section (SARTS), whose primary goal is to increase overall marksmanship proficiency in the ILNG.

“We accomplish this by providing beginner, intermediate, and advanced training to units prior to weapons qualification and, perhaps more importantly, to deploying personnel,” said Blount. “SARTS is fortunate to have immense support from the top down.”

In order to gain this valuable knowledge, the FORSCOM Marksmanship Championship three categories were comprised of several fast pace coursed of fire that challenged the competitors to accurately and quickly engage targets in a variety of conditions and environments.

Blount describes the SAW event: Night Unknown Distance stage, as “extremely difficult, but is very applicable to operational environments.”

He elaborated on the complexity of the event.

“Each competitor equipped with a night vision monocular had 3 minutes and 150 rounds to find and successfully engage up to 10 steel targets arranged at varying distances from 450m out to 800m with an M249 with a laser,” said Blount. “The kicker was that it was mandatory for the targets to be engaged in order from left to right.

Not only was this competition challenging but enjoyable as well.

The Lumber Cut- “I loved the Lumber Cut stage,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Blount, M249 competitor with the All Guard International Combat Team member from Illinois National Guard, “Competitors got 300 rounds to cut a 2×4 piece of lumber in half from 10m as quickly as possible,” he said. “An enjoyable match to shake things up a bit,” he continued and “a good test of strategy and weapon control.” The Lumber Cut stage was one of many events during U.S. FORSCOM Marksmanship Competition Nov. 9, 2016, at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale; caption by Capt. Theresa Walker, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center)

“I loved the Lumber Cut stage,” said Blount. “Competitors got 300 rounds to cut a 2×4 piece of lumber in half from 10m as quickly as possible.”

“On the face of it, it seems like just an enjoyable match to shake things up a bit,” he continued. “However, I think it was a good test of strategy and weapon control during cyclic rates of fire. Something you don’t often get the chance to do.”

While this particular event is rare, the NGMTC holds many competitions and teaches many marksmanship courses, which help Guardsmen improve.

“The NGMTC gives shooters tangible marksmanship goals: earning the Chief’s 50 Badge, becoming double distinguished, being selected to the All Guard Team, etc.” said Blount, and “then provided all the resources necessary to achieve these goals.”

“Whether that be military courses: Sniper, SDM (Squad Designated Marksman), and SAWE (Squad Automatic Weapons Expert), marksmanship clinics, or competitions,” he continued.

Some of the competitions supported or held by the NGMTC include:

  • CNGB (Chief of the National Guard Bureau) Championship held in three different phases: Postal at home state, MAC Regional Championships across the U.S., and the National Championship held at NGMTC in Arkansas
  • MAC (Marksmanship Advisory Council) Regional Championships held in seven different regions of the U.S.
  • WPW (Winston P. Wilson) Championship held at NGMTC in Arkansas
  • NGSC (National Guard Sniper Championship) An inter-service sniper competition held at NGMTC in Arkansas
  • AFSAM (Armed Forces Skills at Arms Meeting) A multinational competition held at NGMTC in Arkansas to promote marksmanship training and competition between United States military forces and allied nations.

“The All Guard Team and NGMTC staff are some of the best shooters and instructors in the country,” he said. “They are always willing to offer tips, show you a new technique, or give a well-intentioned constructive critique.”

Army and Air National Guard marksmen, supported by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, continue to train and compete at all levels while sustaining critical combat skills. These experienced and competent marksmen are bring these skills back to their home station units and share these advanced techniques. Participation in these competitions will continue to improve unit readiness across the Army Total Force.

For more information, contact 1st Sgt. Micah Marchand 501-212-4020/Maj. Dwayne Page 501-212-4531 or visit Competitions and Become a competitor.



NGMTC Hopes to See North Carolina JROTC Students in the Future

NGMTC hopes to see North Carolina JROTC students cross the centers halls in the future in order to build on their leadership, values, and, of course, their marksmanship skills.

North Carolina Smithfield-Selma High School JROTC opened its 1,200 square-foot, six-lane, indoor shooting range on school grounds, where they use air powered rifles to shoot lead pellets in the small indoor shooting range April 2016 as reported by WRAL, Fox News and ABC11.

The JROTC program participates in the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a program that promotes “firearms safety, and marksmanship training for citizens with an emphasis on youth,” reported ABC.

As of April, only five seniors at Smithfield Selma High had completed the criteria in order to shoot on the range, according to ABC, and Wegman told WRAL he hopes to have all of the seniors in the program certified by the fall.

“There’s a marksmanship safety test they have to take, and they have to get a 100 on it,” Commander David Wegman told WRAL. “In addition to that, they have to sign a safety pledge, get permission from home and then finally demonstrate on the range that they know how to handle one of these air rifles safely.”

2,630 high schools have a marksmanship program affiliated with them – 140 of those are in North Carolina, according to CMP as reported by ABC.

“We talk about, a lot in this country, about teaching students responsibility. This goes beyond theory, to actually give them an opportunity to participate in something that is quite responsible,” he told ABC.

The students in Smithfield-Selma High School, N.C. JROTC programs would agree.

“This is an amazing program that we got here at SSS,” Senior Hector Mendoza told ABC. “It will teach us safety rules and how to be a better leader after high school. It teaches how to use our weapons and safety of our weapons, and teaches us how to follow leadership directions.”

Maybe one day in the near future some of these students will cross our halls at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, where their responsibility, and discipline will definitely be challenged.

ABC video broadcast:

Read more: Full articles here

ABC 11: “North Carolina high school builds shooting range on campus”
Fox News: “North Carolina high school reportedly opens indoor shooting range”
WRAL: “Johnston high school opens indoor shooting range”

The great body of our citizens shoot less and less as time goes on. To meet this we should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services, by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving the peace of the world. Fit to hold our own against the strong nations of the earth, our voice for peace will carry to the ends of the earth. Unprepared, and therefore unfit, we must sit dumb and helpless to defend ourselves, protect others, or preserve peace. The first step–in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible and to be fit for war if it should come–is to teach our men to shoot.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt’s Last State of the Union Address Dec. 8, 1908

Taking Back the Fortuna ~ All Guard International Combat Shooting Team Wins the Fortuna Trophy


The All Guard International Combat Team won the Fortuna Trophy June 27, 2016 at Army Training Centre Pirbright, Woking, England. The team of the best combat shooters in the Guard came to the British Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition with one main goal; win the Fortuna Trophy, which they accomplished their goal for the first time in 15 years. (Photo provided by: National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom, and cutline by: Capt. Theresa Walker, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center)

Story by: 2nd Lt. Memory Strickland and Capt. Theresa Walker
Photos by: 2nd Lt. Memory Strickland

ARMY TRAINING CENTRE PIRBRIGHT, WOKING, England – The All Guard International Combat Team went to the United Kingdom in June 2016 to compete in the British Army Reserve Operational Shooting Competition for the 1st time since 2005 , with one main goal; win the Fortuna Trophy.

The team of the best combat shooters in the National Guard attended accomplished their goal for the first time since 2000. Team member Army Sgt. Justus Densmore, Texas Army National Guard, won the High Shooter award on the Fortuna Trophy winning team and Best International Individual Champion, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Noe, Arkansas Army National Guard, was the Champion Pistol Close Quarter Match Assessment, which was a contributing event for the Fortuna Trophy.

“I’m very honored to be one of the few, National Guard Soldiers, to ever get the chance to compete for the Fortuna Trophy,” said Sgt. Densmore.

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

“I have used the knowledge gained form these style matches,” said Sgt. Densmore, “to train three engineer companies, preparing for deployments around the world.”

The competition for the Fortuna dates back to 1882, when the trophy was presented by the National Rifle Association of the United States to the winning Great Britain Volunteer team in the International Military Matches at Creedmoor, England.

After 1932, the competition halted and was reinstated again in 1993. 2000 was the last time the All Guard team won the Fortuna Trophy, which remains on display at the NRA Museum of the United Kingdom in Great Britain, since it is so large.

It wasn’t just by chance or the luck of the draw that the shooters were on this team. The team is comprised of the top combat shooters in the Guard, who competed for their place on the team. Prior to their historic winning of the Fortuna Trophy, they trained together both in England and at home.

“As an individual, it was a great honor winning the Fortuna Trophy” said Sgt. Densmore, “but it took our whole team to pull it off. We all came together to build each other up and help each other shoot the best possible scores we could.”

Each service is allowed to have one team of eight members and the team who has the highest aggregate scores determines the winner.

The eight members and two team managers representing the All Guard International Combat Team included:

Maj. David Stapp, OIC, Arkansas Army National Guard

Master Sgt. Greg Neiderhiser, NCOIC, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

1st Sgt. Jonathan Chapman, team member, Louisiana Army National Guard

1st Sgt. Tommy McGee, team member, Louisiana Army National Guard

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, team member, Iowa Army National Guard

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Noe, team member, Arkansas Army National Guard

Sgt. Justus Densmore, team member, Texas Army National Guard

Sgt. Evan Messer, team member, North Dakota Army National Guard

Sgt. Jeremy Steffel, team member, Virginia Army National Guard

Sgt. Brandon Swanson, team member, Wisconsin Army National Guard

The team spent a week at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, Arkansas training together before going to Army Training Centre (Pirbright) in Woking, England.

“As cliché as it sounds, the fundamentals are key,” said Sgt. Densmore. “Steady position, proper trigger squeeze, sight picture and breath control, have to be focused-on and fine-tuned before you ever begin shooting for time or speed. Once the fundamentals have been refined, I can then focus on the actual courses of fire for the event.”

“The focus of training prior to going to England was to learn the complex match courses of fire that the team had to fire for the Fortuna matches”, said Maj. David Stapp, Operations Director for the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC). “The shooters had the time to begin visualizing the courses of fire and some of the unfamiliar firing positions that were used.”

When the team arrived in country, they participated in practice matches, which were set up the same as the competition matches.

“The practice matches helped us get familiar with how they do things here, it is a lot different than in the states,” said 1st Sgt. McGee.

In England, the soldiers are responsible for knowing the course of fire for the match they are participating. The range controller only gives the command “Watch out, Watch out”, to signify the start of a round.

 This style of completion is different from matches at NGMTC. At NGMTC the competitors are given the commands on the course of fire before each firing round.

 Despite the differences, the All Guard team met their objective and returned as Fortuna Champions. They, also, plan to return next year to defend their title of the Fortuna.

“The next major step in preparing for next year’s Fortuna meeting is to attend the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration in Ottawa, Ontario this September. The courses of fire and match conditions are very similar to those in England and will be a great training opportunity to gain more valuable experience with these style matches,” said Maj. Stapp.