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News: North Dakota marksmen excel in national competition

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North Dakota marksmen excel in national competition Courtesy Photo

U.S. Army Sgt. Evan Messer poses with the medals he won during the U.S. Army Small Arms Championship at Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 8, 2013. Messer, who serves with the North Dakota National Guard's 817th Engineer Company, was recognized as the fifth best shooter at the competition. (U.S. Army courtesy photo/Released)

FORT BENNING, Ga. — The North Dakota National Guard’s best shooters have been competing against the best in the U.S. Army since Jan. 28 at Fort Benning, Ga. As they travel home this weekend from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s U.S. Small Arms Championship, or “All-Army” competition, they’re bringing home quite a bit of hardware, including a plaque designating the team as the third best in the entire Army.

The advanced combat live-fire training event began with individual and team rifle matches, followed by a combined arms competition. North Dakota fared best in the rifle matches although the combined performance of the team in all areas propelled them to the third-place title overall. The team also ranked second overall in the rifle competition and fifth in the pistol competition.

“Marksmanship is a key skill to being a soldier and airman, and the Guardsmen on our marksmanship team have taken that skill to a professional level,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “Coming home with so many awards at such a high level of competition is a testament to their dedication, commitment and skill.”

Part of the rifle team match included a 1.5-mile run while wearing complete uniform, gear and a full load of ammunition while carrying a rifle. Sgt. Evan Messer completed the run in 11 minutes, 3 seconds, and the rest of the team wasn’t far behind. All of North Dakota’s shooters completed the run in less than 14 minutes, said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Von Bank, who serves with the 119th Wing and helps coach the team.

“[Master Sgt.] Brian Rook ended up finishing in 13 minutes, 48 seconds, but has the dubious distinction of being the oldest competitor [he turns 51 in July] and the only Air Force competitor shooting all of the events,” Von Bank said.

Besides the team awards, North Dakota’s four shooters excelled in individual competition.

Messer and Spc. Tyrel Hoppe, who serve with the North Dakota Army National Guard’s Jamestown-based 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), shot in the “Pro” class, which is reserved for shooters who have earned the Distinguished Badge in rifle or pistol. Messer was named the fifth best overall individual shooter out of all classes during the lengthy competition. He also earned first place among all Pro class rifle shooters, won Match 8 (which included the 1.5-mile run) as an individual competitor and took the silver out of all individuals competing in Match 7 (which used paper targets).

Hoppe earned the highest score of all non-distinguished rifle shooters and was ranked the fourth Pro-class rifle shooter overall. He was named the 15th best shooter overall at the competition.

Master Sgt. Brian Rook, who serves with the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing, and Spc. Christopher Lundberg, who serves in the 817th, shot in the Novice class since they were new to the competition.

Both finished in the top 25 of all Novice class rifle shooters. Rook placed 25th out of all shooters in the competition and Lundberg came in 42nd.

They rounded out the team of four, which was coached by Von Bank and Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg, a Distinguished class shooter who has brought home numerous shooting awards from around the world during his military service.

Marksmanship is one of several competitive sports within the North Dakota National Guard that encourage teamwork and precision while enhancing key areas of military performance, such as shooting, combatives and physical fitness.

North Dakota National Guard complete results

Rifle Match 8 Novice Class
Spc. Christopher Lundberg, 10th place
Master Sgt. Brian Rook, 51st place

Rifle Match 8 Pro Class
Sgt. Evan Messer, 1st place
Spc. Tyrel Hoppe, 6th place

Rifle Team Match 9
North Dakota placed third behind California and Maine National Guard teams. North Dakota’s team included Messer, Hoppe, Lundberg and Rook and was coached by Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg.

Rifle Match 7 Pro Class
Messer, 2nd place
Hoppe, 4th place

Rifle Match 7 Novice Class
Rook, 11th place
Lundberg, 31st place

Rifle Match 10
North Dakota placed third out of 27 teams that placed, with Arkansas National Guard and Maine National Guard placing first and second, respectively.

US Army Service Rifle Individual Championship Match 30 – Pro Class
Messer, 1st place
Hoppe, 4th place

US Army Service Rifle Individual Championship Match 30 – Novice Class
Lundberg, 16th place
Rook, 21st place

Rifle Team Match 35
North Dakota’s team (Messer, Hoppe, Lundberg and Rook) placed second behind the Maine National Guard.

Rifle Match 321 – Pro Class
Messer, 2nd place
Hoppe, 5th place

Rifle Match 321 – Novice Class
Rook, 15th place
Lundberg, 26th place
Von Bank, 53rd place

Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Match 321
Messer, 2nd place
Hoppe, 5th place
Rook, 33rd place
Lundberg, 53rd place

Pistol Match 1 – Pro Class
Messer, 10th place
Hoppe, 12th place

Pistol Match – Novice Class
Rook, 7th place
Lundberg, 12th place

Pistol Match 3 – Pro Class
Messer, 5th place
Hoppe, 12th place

Pistol Match 3 – Novice Class
Rook, 15th place
Lundberg, 34th place

Pistol Team Match 4
North Dakota (Messer, Hoppe, Rook and Lundberg with Varberg as coach) placed fourth behind Army Reserve Careers Division, Maine National Guard and Team California.

Pistol Match 5 – Pro Class
Messer, 3rd place
Hoppe, 12th place

Pistol Match 5 – Novice Class
Von Bank, 15th place
Rook, 24th place
Lundberg, 38th place

US Army Service Pistol Team Championship
North Dakota placed fifth behind Maine National Guard, Army Reserve Careers Division, Team California and United States Army Special Operations Command.

US Army Service Pistol Championship Match 20 – Pro Class
Messer, 5th place
Hoppe, 12th place

US Army Service Pistol Championship Match 20 – Novice Class
Rook, 11th place
Von Bank, 18th place
Lundberg, 26th place

Pistol Match 6
The North Dakota National Guard placed sixth behind United States Army Special Operations Command, Maine National Guard, Team California, Army Reserve Careers Division and Arkansas National Guard.

Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Match 221 – Pro Class
Messer, 5th place

Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Match 221 – Novice Class
Rook, 11th place
Von Bank, 17th place
Lundberg, 32nd place

Pucket Trophy High Novice Excellence-in-Competition Match 621
Rook, 9th place
Lundberg, 23rd place
Hoppe, 13th place


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This work, North Dakota marksmen excel in national competition, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:02.08.2013

Date Posted:02.10.2013 15:40

Location:FORT BENNING, GA, USGlobe

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