~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.
“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.
“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.