By Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center
Utah National Guard
BARLING, Arkansas – Twenty-three two-person sniper teams from across the National Guard and 12 interservice teams competed in the 50th Winston P. Wilson Sniper Championship and the 30th Annual Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center December 4-10, 2020, at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center in Barling, Arkansas.
“We are truly honored to have teams from across the nation and other military services at the 2020 WPW and AFSAM Sniper Championship,” said Col. Andy Bussell, commander of the NGMTC. Out of the 70 sniper competitors in attendance this year, six walked away with the highest honors.
This year’s Overall AFSAM Sniper Team Champions, are Sgt. Demetrios H. Iannios and Sgt. Eric J. Vargas, representing the National Guard on the All Guard Sniper Team and hailing from the California National Guard, with a score of 625.5 placing first overall out of 35 sniper teams. Second place is the Special Warfare Training Group Team and third is the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Raider Training Center Team.
The Overall WPW Sniper Team Champions and recipients of the Chief’s 50 Marksmanship Badge are Sgt. Triston Ivkov and Spc. Max Miller, Colorado National Guard, scoring 546.5 points placing second overall out of 35 sniper teams.
Also, receiving the prestigious Chief’s 50 Marksmanship Badge are Spc. Aaron M. McAndrews and Spc. Kyle R. Thies, Iowa National Guard, with a score of 504 placing third overall out of 35 sniper teams and second place overall in the WPW. The Utah National Guard team is the third place WPW champions and earned fifth place overall out of the 35 teams competing.
Bragging rights are great, but readiness is the key priority for the NGMTC that is why they are the National Guard’s proponent for organizing and conducting marksmanship competitions across the nation.
“The National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, as the home to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau’s marksmanship program, tries to ensure that each member of his Army and Air National Guard is fully capable of employing his/her assigned weapon,” said Bussell.
The although this is a competition, it is, also, a cleverly disguised training event.
“The matches consist of shooting, fieldcraft, and basically all sniper related tasks, all the way down to the call for fire trainer,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Carver, one of the competition cadre and a sniper instructor from the U.S. National Guard Sniper School.
Attendees learn how to maneuver and shoot in a carefully orchestrated chaos that mimics a battle-like environment. This allows participating teams to become honed in on their current skills and develop new skills in the process.
“This is the best sniper sustainment training in the country hands down,” said Miller. “It’s kinds of ranges and events that just aren’t possible for you to just put on, so it’s critical that we host competitions like this to make us better snipers.”
To these warriors, the competitions are not just about seeing who is the best and walking away with a prize. It’s about improving each other.
“At the end of the day, we're all just trying to be the best that we can be and make everyone all around us better,” said Vargas, “We all wear the same flag on our right shoulder and that's what it's all about. Coming together. Doing what we need to do. Being masters at our craft, shooting well, and just getting the mission accomplished the best way we can.”
National Guard Sniper Competition Results:
WPW Sniper Team Champions
WPW Precision Engagement Team Champions:
WPW Silent Hunter Team Champions:
AFSAM Sniper Team Champions
AFSAM Precision Engagement Team Champions:
AFSAM Silent Hunter Team Champions:
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