News: One shot, one kill: 2nd Brigade Combat Team snipers place in top 10 at international competition
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – “Nothing demoralizes the enemy more than their buddy going down and not knowing where the shot came from,” said Spc. Juan Valencia, a sniper with C Troop, 1/73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Two sniper teams from 2BCT took part in the International Sniper Competition in Fort Benning, Ga., Oct. 12-15. They competed against snipers from all over the world; U.S. military and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, as well as soldiers from Spain, Germany, Taiwan, Canada and Ireland.
Staff Sgt. Brent Davis, A. Co., 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, and his teammate, Staff Sgt. Kyle Maples, Headquarters Co., 1/325th AIR, took fourth place in the service class of the competition; while C Troop, 1/73rd snipers, Valencia and Spc. Mason Heller, took eighth. There were 32 teams participating in the 72-hour competition, with 26 teams in their class. Although both teams performed well in the competition, the way they prepared and even the way they were chosen to participate in the event, were very different.
The 1/73rd “Grey Falcons” team was the youngest team at the competition, as most units prefer to send snipers with more experience. The Grey Falcons have sent teams to the competition for the last three years, but have chosen two different men each year.
“Most teams come back every year and don’t send new guys,” said Sgt. Ian Erickson, C Troop, 1/73rd, who competed in 2009 and served as the Grey Falcons team coach this year.
Valencia and Heller began their training shortly after returning to Fort Bragg in March after the brigade’s deployment to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response. They were chosen to attend the international competition after winning a three-day competition within their section, consisting of target detection, range estimation, grouping shots, moving and a stress shoot. They went to the range everyday for eight weeks and also attended the Special Forces Sniper Course, where they won top shot and top team out of nine teams.
“They’re dead on,” said Cpt. Ryan Nugent, C Troop, 1/73rd commander.
The 1/325th AIR “Red Falcons” team, although more experienced, didn’t have as much time to practice together as their younger counterpart. Davis was notified that he would be competing only two weeks before the event, as Maples’ original partner was unable to attend. Davis said they tagged along with other units to ranges to get as much practice as possible before making the trip to Fort Benning. But Davis, having competed in the event last year, and Maples, who attended a similar event in Arkansas last year, felt that they were ready for the event. “Having experience in competition helps out,” Davis said.
The competition consisted of night range estimation, night pistol shoot, day and night movements, night target detection, a stress shoot and a live fire stalk. Although competing against other teams, the goal of the event was for the men to “learn techniques from each other and pass information through the sniper community,” said Heller. The Grey Falcons team said they learned about different weapons systems that the civilians and foreign soldiers used, as well as a new buddy-assisted shooting position. Davis said he picked up tips for night shooting.
Because of their success at the competition, all four soldiers were recognized and received a coin from U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., at a ceremony at Brigade Headquarters today.
Overall, both teams feel positive about their experience at the competition. “To go up against these guys who have way more experience, and place eighth, I think that’s pretty good,” said Valencia.
Davis appreciated how supportive each team was for the others and plans to disseminate the knowledge he gained. “Everyone tried to help each other out,” he said. “Now I’ll be able to go back and teach what I’ve learned.”
This work, One shot, one kill: 2nd Brigade Combat Team snipers place in top 10 at international competition, by SGT Kissta DiGregorio, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.