Jan. 14, 2007

Va. Marksmanship Training Unit Soldiers aim for excellence

Courtesy of Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit

Sgt. Stephen G. Adt, Headquarters Company, 116th Brigade Troops Batallion, negotiates an obstacle as part of the combat rifle portion of the 2006 Winston P. Wilson matches. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Marksmanship Training Unit)

FORT PICKETT, Va. - The Virginia National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit recently sent 12 Virginia Army Guard Soldiers to the 35th annual Winston P. Wilson Championships from Nov. 13-17, 2006 at Camp Robinson, Ark.

The Soldiers, hailing from Joint Force Headquarters, Virginia and the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, competed against over 350 other shooters in combat rifle and combat pistol matches throughout the week.

Maj. Anthony Caruso distinguished himself by winning the second place novice trophy in Match 221, Combat Pistol Excellence in Competition Match. Caruso was part of the four-Soldier Joint Forces Headquarters team that won the 2006 TAG Combat Pistol Match for Virginia.

Maj. Mike Martin, State Marksmanship Coordinator for Virginia, was awarded the Chief of the National Guard Bureau “Chief’s 50” badge by placing in the top 15 pistol shooters in the nation. The “Chief’s 50” is awarded annually to the top 35 rifle shooters and the top 15 pistol shooters at the national competition. Martin was the first Virginia National Guardsman to earn this coveted marksmanship award in over six years.

The objective of the WPW Championships is to promote the growth and development of state level marksmanship training by providing an ultimate goal for the states to participate in high level competition. The first WPW Rifle and Pistol Matches were conducted at Camp Robinson, North Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 4 – 9, 1971. Thirty-two states and Puerto Rico each participated that year.

The WPW Championships have grown a great deal since their inception. During the 1976 matches, the light machine gun was added as a discipline, and in 1991 a sniper competition was added to the match program.

For the first time since its' beginning, the matches were cancelled in 2005 due to the nationwide mobilization of military troops and equipment in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Now that the competition is over, the MTU begins the yearly process of selecting and training competitive shooters to represent the Commonwealth during the 2007 training year. The Adjutant General’s Sniper match will be conducted March 3-4, the TAG Combat Rifle match will be conducted April 14-15, the TAG Combat Pistol Match will be conducted May 5-6, and the TAG Machine Gun Match will be conducted June 16-17. All matches will be held at Fort Pickett, Va.

“All matches are conducted in a [competitive learning] environment, with the ultimate goal of the competitive process being to improve readiness, battlefield effectiveness and survivability,” Martin said. “Our ultimate goal at the MTU is quite simple; we want to train the Commonwealth’s Soldiers and airmen to be the most lethal marksmen in the world.”

Soldiers and airmen needing information about participating in the 2007 TAG Marksmanship Matches should contact Maj. Mike Martin, Virginia National Guard State Marksmanship Coordinator, at michael.martin22@us.army.mil for details.


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