~Tigger time is training time
by Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
JERICHO, Vermont –After a full day of running and shooting, two four-man teams, sweat pouring, lie waiting on their bellies in the sweltering 80-degree humid heat of the northern Vermont mountains. The air-horn sounds, echoing, and eight competitors run 100 yards, boots pounding as fast as they can, to the 100-yard firing-line. Falling into a prone shooting position, they rack their rifles and move the selector switch to fire.
With hearts pounding like war drums banging in their ears, they swiftly sight their neon orange steel targets and with a steady eye they let their bullets loose.
In a flash, a green hexagonal sign is seen thrust into the air by one of the line safeties indicating that his team eliminated all the targets first and the victors howl their battle cries of victory.
These were the circumstances with which Soldiers and Airmen were challenged during Fire Team Assault Match, a single-elimination style falling-plates tournament, which was conducted in part of the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region One Championship, an elite shooting championship for National Guard Soldiers and Airmen hosted by the Vermont National Guard in Jericho, Vermont, August 21-23, 2020. Teams from New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont went head-to-head on Camp Ethan Allen’s shooting ranges to determine the individual and team champions of both service pistol and service rifle marksmanship in the novice and open classes. The match was sponsored and supported by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center to provide a unique combat-focused training event for National Guard members to hone their perishable marksmanship skills.
“I’m a strong Advocate that trigger time is training time and the regional is sometimes seen as daunting,” said 1st Lt. Michael Wardwell, Vermont Air National Guardsman and four-time MAC competitor. “Some don’t feel as though, if they haven’t competed or had a lot of success at the TAG level, they might not think that MAC is a place for them to go. I disagree.”
The MAC One Championship was divided into eight separate courses of fire using both the service rifle and service pistol: The Run Down Match, Close Quarter Battle, Reflexive Fire, Combat Rifle Excellence-in-Competition, Combat Pistol EIC, Team Run Down Match, Team Close Quarters Battle Match, Fire Team Assault Match, Individual Combat Pistol Match, General George Patton Combat Pistol Team Match, Anti-Body Armor and Fire Team Assault Match.
Matches, like the MAC One Regional, challenge competitors by exposing them to various shooting environments and mental and physical conditions to provide more training and serve as a combat multiplier.
“We may have a deployment coming up and if it is a combat mission, there’s a lot of things I learned, and I’ll be able to apply my shooting abilities in combat,” said Spc. Dustin Robinson, an infantryman in the Vermont Army National Guard. “It’ll make me more calm, and confident in my abilities to protect myself and the people around me.”
“There’s a lot of things that in line infantry units they don’t really teach you there, that you learn here for mostly accuracy,” said Spc. Dustin Robinson, Vermont Army National Guard. “You really get a lot of experience, you know, like a lot of trigger time using these guns and it definitely gives you an edge over the people who don’t get to do these things.”
Strategically, knowing how to shoot is important even for Airmen according to Wardwell.
“Our wing in particular, we deploy quite a bit,” he said. “There have been instances where airfields have been overrun and maintainers had to take up arms and repel that attack. It happens and we need to be proficient with our firearms.”
According to the official match program, the intent of courses of fire like the Fire Team Assault Match is to test the competitors’ marksmanship skills and weapon systems in a battle focused competition and build individual skills, and it affords opportunities for exchanging ideas between fellow service members.
“From an Air perspective, it’s great to be able to get some interaction with our Army counterparts,” said Wardwell. “For example, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with infantry, Army aviation, civil support team, etc. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to get that perspective just from staying in the wing.”
More Soldiers and Airmen need to get involved in these matches, regardless of how well they think they can shoot, according to Robinson and Wardwell.
“Don’t be afraid. Even if you think that you’re really bad at shooting, this is definitely the best place to go,…” said Robinson. “Whatever your skill level is, you’re always going to learn something new when you come here and this is the place you want to go if you want to improve your shooting abilities for rifle and pistol.”
“There’re great shooters at all MACs and it’s supposed to be a training environment with a competitive side to it,” said Wardwell. “It’s a great place to come and learn. Whether it’s shooting at distance, or this weekend for example, was the first time that I’d done anything CQB [close quarter battle] with an ACOG. I learned that it’s possible, but I needed that opportunity to get some rounds down range and actually work with people who have done that before. So MAC is another training opportunity.”
Overall Aggregate Team Champions
1. Vermont Alpha, Vermont Army National Guard, score 2471-35x
(Cpl. Daniel Krezinski; Sgt. Conner Norton; Staff Sgt. Robert Tucker; Staff Sgt. Jeremy Westover)
2. New Hampshire Alpha, New Hampshire Army National Guard, score 2389-18x
(Maj. Brooks Hayward; Staff Sgt. David Musso; Capt. Patrick Randall; Staff Sgt. Joseph Wyner)
3. Vermont-Bravo, Vermont Army National Guard, score 2150-29X
(Capt. Cliffton Allen; Spc. Joseph Audet; Staff Sgt. Seth Demers; Maj. Christopher Stafford)
Overall Individual Aggregate Champion
1. Staff Sgt. Robert Tucker, Vermont Army National Guard; Score 1098-25x
2. Maj. Brooks Hayward, New Hampshire Army National Guard; Score 1038-19x
3. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Westover, Vermont Army National Guard; Score 1021-17x
Overall Novice Individual Aggregate Champion
1. Capt. Patrick Randall, New Hampshire Army National Guard; Score 912-15x
2. Cpl. Daniel Krezinski, Vermont Army National Guard; Score 918-8x
3. Staff Sgt. Christopher Allen, Vermont Army National Guard; Score 906-10x
Warrior Challenge Champion (EIC Pistol and Rifle Aggregate)
1. Staff Sgt. Robert Tucker, Vermont Army National Guard; Score 354-23x
2. Capt. Patrick Randall, New Hampshire Army National Guard; Score 346-11x
3. Maj. Brooks Hayward, New Hampshire Army National Guard; Score 326-11x
Additional scores can be found at https://wpwafsam.weebly.com select MAC 1 Results.
For more photos from this event visit us on Flickr: NGMTCPAO.
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.