Head on multi-gun challenge

~National Guard wins heavy division at Fort Benning multi-gun challenge
by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center

COLUMBUS, Georgia. (December 6, 2019) –The smell of gun smoke is strong in the air, the sound of weapons firing can be heard all around, and the sight of the guns being pushed around like babies in carriages can be seen.

All of this can be experienced at the 2019 Fort Benning Multi-gun Challenge that took place in November at Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia.

The National Guard Action Shooting Team experienced it all for the second straight year in a row when they competed this year and won the heavy division.

“Shooting in the National Guard and in this match is one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had in my life so far,” said 1st Lt. Garrett Miller, plans officer for the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center. “Honestly it’s one of the reasons I stay in the National Guard and put so much time into my position is because I know that I get to participate in these events and it grooms me as a better officer and it gives me an opportunity to also groom other Soldiers to be more professional and effective war fighters.”

The challenge is separated into 12 different stages or obstacles ranging from shooting from a suspension bridge to balancing on a teeter-totter and shooting at a variety of targets from stationary to clay discs used in skeet shooting. The competitors’ cycle through their weapons, three each, from pistol to shotgun to rifle, and at each stage must transition between at least two of them.

There are four different divisions, in which each shooter can compete, and it all depends on the caliber of weapons they use. Each has benefits and drawbacks making it an important choice for the shooters.

Firing his shotgun in quick succession Staff Sgt. Brandon Hornung is competing in the 2019 Fort Benning Multi-gun Challenge, at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Horning, a resident of Mendota, Illinois, is marksmanship trainer with the Illinois Small Arms Readiness Training Section and is a member of the National Guard Action Shooting Team. The challenge is to complete each of the 12 stages as fast as the competitors can while also having to switch out weapons and ammunition. Hornung is one of six members of the National Guard Action Shooting Team and are competing at Fort Benning against other serves and a wide array of civilians who like to compete with their weapons just as much as the Soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)

“All of these matches are fantastic,” said Miller, “they’re fantastic forums where we can test our tactics and training and we can represent the National Guard. This is the match that I look forward to every year, the caliber of competitors it draws from around the country are a great challenge.”

This year there were nearly 300 competitors from across the country competing at Fort Benning. They ranged from Soldiers to marines to police officers to regular civilians who just love any chance to fire their weapon, and like a healthy dose of competition.

“There’s a lot of fantastic competitors here; it’s great working so many outstanding individuals who help me be a better Soldier overall,” said 1st Sgt. Kirk Holmer the first sergeant of the 144th Area Support Medical Company from Camp Williams, Utah, who is competing for the first time in the multi-gun challenge.

Holmer who has only been shooting competitively for the last few years is the newest member of the team and had to try out to earn his place. Each year the National Guard hosts many shooting competitions and from these gathers a list of Soldiers they then invite to compete for the opportunity to be on the Action Shooting Team (AST) It takes a couple of years and many matches to even get the invite because the Soldier must have a proven track record.

“I didn’t get into this earlier because I honestly didn’t know the program existed,” said Holmer.

1st Sgt. Kirk Holmer shoots his beloved shot gun during the 2019 Fort Benning Multi-gun Challenge, at Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia. He is striving to shoot as fast and as accurately as he can. Holmer, is part of the six man National Guard Action Shooting Team who are at the challenge. The challenge includes 12 events and each event requires the shooter to fire multiple weapons and knock down all the targets. Time is of the essence and failure to knock down a target means a penalty which adds on more time to the competitor’s score. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)

The program within the National Guard is fairly new at only a few years old, however, the multi-gun challenge has been going on for 16 years and is hosted by the United States Army Marksmanship Unit who has been around since the 1950’s.

“I always love competing on Fort Benning, and I love being surrounded by the Soldiers that call the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) home,” said First Sgt. Jacob Blount who is in the Illinois Small Arms Readiness Training Section, and has been part of the National Guard AST since it’s beginning. “That level of excellence is not only motivating, but it is infectious. The fact that I can come out to Fort Benning and converse with shooting World Champions and Olympic medalists is an incredible experience that is almost unheard of in other sports.”

The AMU does not compete in the Fort Benning Multi-gun challenge as they are the ones who organize the event each year. They are the ones who arranged each of the stages and know the range of difficultly each has, and if they enjoy each of the stages the competitors are bound to as well.

“The shooters on the AMU Action Team are the best in the world at their respective disciplines,” said Blount. “When they take time out of their busy instructing, training, and competing schedules to design and build stages, you know the stages are going to be good, and they didn’t disappoint this year. The stages provided an opportunity for Soldiers to test different aspects of their abilities: physical fitness, flexibility, weapon manipulation, shooting ability, shooting speed, footwork, etc.”

Even though the AMU was not competing against the National Guard AST at this event, there are others in which they do compete, so the participants know each other from other events that happen around the country and world. Both teams see action shooting as a good way to improve their ability as Soldiers.

“Competition is one of the only ways to induce the type of stress that happens when you are being shot at,” said Blount. “Action shooting competitions like the Fort Benning Multi-Gun Challenge allow us to validate our training methodology against some of the best military and civilian shooters in the world. If we aren’t winning competitions, then we are likely doing something wrong in training. Collaborating with our military and civilian peers enhances our ability as marksmanship trainers and subject matter experts throughout the Army and National Guard.”

Blount proved his ability when he won his division, heavy, reinforcing his choice to shoot it because it was only the second time he has done so.

Blount was the only division winner on the team, but the others are happy with their overall performance, taking away lessons learned in order to do better next year.

A member of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit follows each of the competitors at the 2019 Fort Benning Multi-gun Challenge at Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia. The U.S. AMU member is following behind Sgt. First Class Jacob Blount, who is with the Illinois Army National Guard, and is one of only six National Guard Soldiers competing in the challenge. Blount, a member of the National Guard Action Shooting Team, is at the event shooting in 12 different obstacle stages to see how well he does against the many other competitors. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)

About Us:

Established in 1968, the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC) is the National Guard Bureau’s (NGB) center for managing marksmanship training courses and competitive marksmanship programs. It serves all 54 states and territories and is located on Robinson Maneuver Training Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The NGMTC is headquarters for the “All Guard” service rifle, service pistol, multi-gun, and international combat teams. The NGMTC is also home to the annual Winston P. Wilson National Championships, where guardsmen may earn the NGB Chief’s 50 Marksmanship Badge. For more information call 501-212-4531/4549, visit us at https://ngmtc.wordpress.com or http://www.facebook.com/NGMTC.


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