by Theresa Austin, Maj. public affairs officer, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Arkansas – The Winston P. Wilson National Rifle and Pistol Championship at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center is set to begin in April 2019. 17 more states have already submitted their letters of intent (LOI), as of February 19, 2019, bringing the total to 24, but the goal is to have all 50 states and territories participate.
This competition is fun, but ultimately it is about training America’s military to become better marksmen. When America’s military are better marksmen, this increases lethality, and that is how we are going to win America’s wars. Every marksmanship competition is an opportunity to hone in on accuracy and effectiveness which increases lethality. The added bonus is that during this event competitors will always learn from other participants, who are performing on various levels from novice to professional and who have different experiences. The knowledge that is shared between the competitors will return to their home states and fellow service members.
The NGMTC is tracking confirmations to attend on this map. Be proactive with your marksmanship program and help NGMTC achieve the goal of 100% participation across all 50 states and territories. Contact your state marksmanship training coordinator (SMC) or marksmanship regional coordinator (MAC) to get involved.
Click here for more information on 2019 WPW Sniper, Machine gun, and Rifle & Pistol, as well as AFSAM and CNGB.
~Spouse of fallen sniper unveils memorial award during competition by Army Sgt. Richard W. Hoppe, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
FORT CHAFFEE JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – Standing on the stage of an empty theater as the last few ceremony members clear out, Jane Horton gazes down at a glowing, holographic award that softly lights up her face in the dim room. As an advocate for service members and their families, Jane has made it her life goal to give back to all who serve her and her country – a goal she feels she will never fully achieve.
“One of the last things my husband asked me to do; I was an intern in congress for Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma, and [my husband] asked me to get sniper tabs authorized. And I was like ‘honey, I’m an intern,’” said Jane, Survivor Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Army. “When he was killed, Gen. Odierno, the Chief of the Army, came to his funeral in Arlington and asked me ‘What can I do for you?’ and I said, ‘You can authorize sniper tabs.’ And so that’s kind of where it started.”
Jane’s husband, Spc. Christopher Horton died in Afghanistan while defending his country on September 9, 2011 shortly after completing sniper school. Since his death, Jane has been pushing to make her husband’s last request a reality.
‘I’ve been working with the Army and I’ve been working with Gen. Milley and Sgt. Maj. Dailey to get sniper tabs authorized, but also to make sure that we take care of our snipers,” said Jane. ‘My husband wanted nothing more than to serve his country and he chose to be a sniper because he was such a good shot, and that was the best way that he could use his God-given-skills to serve and to take out the enemy, and ultimately, its why he gave his life.”
Jane began re-counting Chris’ steps in the military shortly after he died, which eventually led her to Fort Chaffee where he attended Sniper School in 2009. She called the school and spoke with one of Chris’ former instructors.
“After Chris’ death, [Jane and I] spoke on the phone, and she wanted to come visit and retrace his steps through the military,” said Sgt. First Class Jon Plummer, Marksmanship Training Battalion NCOIC for the Marksmanship Training Center. “Since then, she’s been in contact with us three or four times a year to see if were doing okay or see if we need anything and she’ll visit probably once a year.”
Over the years, Jane and the school instructors have developed a relationship that has helped her connect with her husband due to his passion for shooting and his long-time goal of going through the sniper program.
“The sniper school has been incredibly welcoming to me and incredibly kind to me and they’ve let me come up a couple times and shoot some of the rifles, get to know some of the snipers, and just create a relationship with them,” said Jane. “It’s been one of the most meaningful relationships of my life because snipers were so important to my husband, and it was such an important part of his identity. In fact, when I buried my husband at Arlington, they gave me two lines, thirteen characters each, to describe him and I put valiant warrior, fearless sniper.”
This year however, the members of the Marksmanship Training Center are giving something back to Chris and Jane. A memorial award was commissioned by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, Ark. to honor Chris Horton, a loving husband, Army Sniper, and American patriot.
“[The award] is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a dream come true for me,” said Jane. “My husband was 26-years old when he gave his life and it’s been almost six and a half years, which is mind boggling for me, but there’s never been enough, and there is never enough, that I could do in this life to thank him for giving his life for me, or those that have given their lives.”
Jane was invited to be a guest speaker at the Winston P. Wilson and Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting National Guard Sniper Competiton matches this year, but that was all she knew before walking up on stage to help present the award to the Wisconsin National Guard Sniper Team.
“She knows nothing about the award. We got a picture from her. I asked her what picture is her favorite of Chris. She said ‘easy’ and she sent me a picture,” said Plummer. “It had passed through several email chains and the quality wasn’t that great. So I contacted Kellogg, one of the guys in his sniper section who made it out, and I asked him if he knew where the original was. He sent it to me within about five minutes…”
After arriving on stage, the award was unveiled to Jane, the awardees, and the audience for the first time. To Jane’s surprise the competitors, cadre, and official party all rose to their feet with a round of applause.
“There’s never enough that I could do for any of you guys who have chosen to serve your country, fight and defend me. I’m truly grateful for them, and I’m here to help any service member with whatever I can and grateful today to know that my husband will always be remembered here at Fort Chaffee Sniper School, so I’m blown away.”
The memorial award will be kept at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Robinson Maneuver Training Center and designated to the top precision engagement team, which is the team with the highest aggregate score in the precision engagement matches, each year during the WPW and AFSAM Sniper Championship matches in honor of Spc. Christopher Horton.
The WPW match included 13 National Guard teams from across the country. The Guard members trained through competition for three awards, including precision engagement, field craft, and overall sniper team, during the competition. The AFSAM teams, including teams from Canada, Denmark, Italy, Poland, U.S. interservice and the National Guard All Guard Sniper Team, competed for the same awards in the international category. The WPW and AFSAM matches were held April 21-26, 2018 at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center, Arkansas.
~Missouri National Guard sweeps the Winston P. Wilson overall team awards by Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – The Missouri Army National Guard Team and Spc. Thomas Carpenter with the South Dakota Army National Guard swept during the 2018 Winston P. Wilson Small Arms Championship Award Ceremony hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Sherwood, Ark. May 3, 2018.
Missouri took home all three overall team awards and two overall individual awards, as well as a plethora of individual and team match awards. The overall team champion awards were for Overall Aggregate, Pistol and Rifle. The overall individual awards were Overall Aggregate and Pistol.
Missouri wasn’t the only one sweeping. There is a new competitive shooter working his way up, Spc. Thomas Carpenter with the South Dakota Army National Guard. He took all three Overall Individual Novice awards, the Overall Aggregate, Pistol and Rifle, as well as earned his Chief’s 50 Badge. There were 14 other new recipients of the Chief’s 50 Badge and the other 35 are multiple recipients of the Chief’s 50 Badge.
The Chief’s 50 Badge far surpasses the Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badges, and is a difficult award to earn since previous recipients are included in top 50. It is awarded on behalf of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, and is a permanent National Guard Marksmanship Badge that can be worn on the duty and dress service uniforms. The Chief’s 50 is modeled after the President’s 100 Marksmanship Tab award and the Governor’s Twenty is modeled after the Chief’s 50.
For nearly half of a century, the WPW matches have shown that the National Guard is a formidable force when it comes to deadly accurate marksmanship. Most of the top competitors have attended at least one of the courses offered at NGMTC, and some of those marksmen are members of the prestigious President’s 100, which is made up of the top 100 shooters in the country and is open to military personnel and civilians.
“As competitive as they are, the matches aren’t solely about defining who is the best,” said Lt. Col. Todd C. Stuff, NGMTC Administrative Officer. “Ultimately, the focus is on training.”
The training offers shooters a chance to exercise one of the most important Army skills, marksmanship. Competitors were required to engage targets from multiple positions, including sitting, standing, and prone while moving from multiple firing lines during courses of fire. Some drills required the competitors to shoot from great distances and run to their next firing line with no time to rest before targets presented themselves.
For many soldiers, this one of the few times they get to fire their weapons each year. “This is the most range time we get all year,” said Sgt. Dustin Fox, a 214th MP with the Alabama National Guard.
Honing marksmanship skills to this level doesn’t come easy and often requires hours of practice and patience. Most of theses Soldiers find time throughout the year to get together and practice their marksmanship skills on their own time. These Soldiers then take their skills learned through these competitions back to their units and pass it along to improve the overall lethality and effectiveness of the unit.
WPW Small Arms Championship Team Results
Overall State Team Champion
1 Missouri (Alpha) National Guard
2 Texas (Alpha) National Guard
3 Illinois (Alpha) National Guard
Overall Rifle Team Champion
1 Missouri (Alpha) National Guard, scoring 2455
2 Illinois (Alpha) National Guard, scoring 2363
3 Missouri (Bravo) National Guard, scoring 2269
Overall Pistol Team Champion
1 Missouri (Alpha) National Guard, scoring 3134
2 Texas (Alpha) National Guard, scoring 2775
3 South Carolina (Alpha) National Guard, scoring 2723
WPW Small Arms Championship Individual Results
Overall Individual Champion-Open
1 Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 1761 with 20 Xs & 27 Vs
2 1st Sgt. James Phelps, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 1753 with 22 Xs & 21 Vs
3 Sgt. Brandon Swanson, Wisconsin Army National Guard, scoring 1752 with 19 Xs & 19 Vs
Overall Individual Champion-Novice
1 Spc. Thomas Carpenter, South Dakota Army National Guard, scoring 1575 with 18 Xs & 18 Vs
2 Sgt. Dwight Bushong, Kentucky Army National Guard, scoring 1447 with 15 Xs & 9 Vs
3 Sgt. David Anderson, California Army National Guard, scoring 1440 with 16 Xs & 6 Vs
Overall Rifle Individual Champion-Open
1 Sgt. Brandon Swanson, Wisconsin Army National Guard, scoring 960 with 9 Xs & 19 Vs
2 Master Sgt. Nathan Watters, Arkansas Air National Guard, scoring 959 with 12 Xs & 21 Vs
3 1st Sgt. James Phelps, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 955 with 12 Xs & 21 Vs
Overall Rifle Individual Champion-Novice
1 Spc. Thomas Carpenter, South Dakota Army National Guard, scoring 854 with 7 Xs & 18 Vs
2 Staff Sgt. Morgan Davidson, Utah Army National Guard, scoring 817 with 5 Xs & 12 Vs
3 Sgt. Zachary Walker, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 803 with 10 Xs & 11 Vs
Overall Pistol Individual Champion-Open
1 Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 810 with 12 Xs
2 Sgt. 1st Class Paul Deugan, Iowa Army National Guard, scoring 798 with 13 Xs
3 1st Sgt. James Phelps, Missouri Army National Guard, scoring 798 with 10 Xs
Overall Pistol Individual Champion-Rifle
1 Spc. Thomas Carpenter, South Dakota Army National Guard, scoring 721 with 11 Xs
2 Maj. Aaron Combs, Ohio Army National Guard, scoring 692 with 13 Xs
3 Spc. John Jordan, South Carolina Army National Guard, scoring 684 with 8 Xs
WPW Small Arms Championship Chief’s 50 Badge Recipients
Sgt. 1st Class John Paul Cholak, Texas Army National Guard, Badge # CR-325
Sgt. Alexandra Wilson, Virginia Army National Guard, Badge # CP-222
Staff Sgt. David Ball, Missouri Army National Guard, Badge # CP-223
Staff Sgt. Justin Oddy, Vermont Air National Guard, Badge # CP-224
Staff Sgt. Patrick Stuckey, South Carolina Army National Guard, Badge # CP-225
Master Sgt. Kirk Holmer, Utah Army National Guard, Badge # CP-226
Staff Sgt. Jerry Dement, Missouri Army National Guard, Badge # CP-227
Sgt. 1st Class David Paquette, Virginia Army National Guard, Badge # CP-228
Spc. Thomas Carpenter, South Dakota Army National Guard, Badge # CP-229
Story by Army Sgt. Richard W. Hoppe, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
Sunday, April 22, 2018
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – Thirty-two National Guard soldiers representing 11 states competed in the 47th Annual Winston P. Wilson (WPW) Machine Gun Championship hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC) at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, Ark. from April 15-21.
The Machine Gun Championship is one of several events included in the Winston P. Wilson Championship, a prestigious marksmanship competition that tests the skills of some of the finest military marksmen in the world.
Michigan National Guard won the title of overall team champions and Chiefs 50, taking home a combined 29 awards between two, two-man teams and proving their mettle for the second year in a row. Michigan takes marksmanship seriously and provides their teams training prior to the matches, but when facing the top marksmen from around the nation, nothing is to be expected.
“This is my second time winning this. We came down last year and had absolutely no idea what we were doing or what we were in for,” said Sgt. David Dohnal with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment and winner of the Top Machine Gunner award. “We came down here and we did a whole lot better than I thought we were going to do. I actually had no idea that I was going to win until the awards ceremony.”
The competitions are conducted under the directive of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to help improve the effectiveness of National Guard Soldiers. Competitions like these help inspire Soldiers to advance their skills in an experience-rich environment that is both challenging and enjoyable.
“What we’re trying to accomplish with the match is to develop an improved standard of marksmanship amongst National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, and to allow them to compete with each other and learn from each other,” said Air Force Capt. Barry Owens, Air National Guard Program Manager for the Marksmanship Training Center. “Because everybody has experience that they can share when they come here and everyone picks up some new ideas and training value.”
The collection of skills available at the competition ensures that everyone gains important weapons skills to take back to their units, whether they’re new or experienced. Every year the Marksmanship Training Center works to improve their matches and the advanced training that they can offer Soldiers and Airmen.
“I think they stepped it up this year … it was a little bit more competitive this year than it was last year,” said Dohnal. “I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no hesitation to come back.”
Newcomers and younger Soldiers are encouraged to attend the matches in order to help build knowledge and expertise that can be disseminated throughout the National Guard. The Marksmanship Training Center offers a free-flow of professional knowledge comprised of years of experience between leadership and cadre alike.
“The vast majority of [cadre] are SAW-E qualified. They went to Small Arms Weapons Expert course, so they know quite a bit and they can teach you a lot,” said Spc. Aaron Newton, a Combat Engineer with Company A, 239th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “Especially 1st Sgt. Marchand, Master Sgt. Lindsey, and Maj. Stapp. All of them are very knowledgeable and can teach you a lot as long as you’re willing to listen.”
Many of the competitors and cadre look forward to next year’s Machine Gun Championship and add to the wealth of knowledge that the National Guard has to offer – and perhaps send a few more rounds down range.
“Come out here. Have fun,” said Dohnal. “You’re getting paid to shoot machine guns. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
by Kathrine Grandori, Sgt. National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – The Winston P. Wilson National Championships at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center will begin in April 2018. Several states have already submitted their letters of intent (LOI), as of March 3, 2018, and the goal is to have all 50 states and territories participate.
Many may think that this competition is only valuable as a “play to win,” but when it comes to marksmanship in the National Guard, we must “train to win.” Every competition is an opportunity to increase readiness and learn new skills. Marksmen always learn from other participants and improve their skills. That knowledge will return to their home states and fellow service members.
The NGMTC will be tracking confirmations to attend on this map. Be proactive with your marksmanship program and help NGMTC achieve the goal of participation across all 50 states and territories in 2018. Contact your state marksmanship training coordinator (SMC) or marksmanship regional coordinator (MAC) to get involved.
Click here for more information on 2018 WPW Sniper, Machine gun, and small arms, as well as AFSAM and CNGB.