News: North Dakota Marksmen Excel at National Shooting Competition
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - North Dakota National Guard marksmen sharpened their shooting skills and knocked down targets at the Winston P. Wilson Marksmanship Sustainment Exercise in Little Rock, Ark., Oct. 24-30.
This year, 377 individual marksmen from across the nation comprised 91 teams representing 42 states and two territories during the competition. This is the 40th year the exercise has been held.
North Dakota sent two four-man teams to participate in multiple events using rifles, pistols, shotguns and machine guns. The WPW competition tests shooters skills by presenting live-fire exercises that require marksmen to negotiate a number of firing scenarios
"Basic Rifle Marksmanship is a skill that all military personnel must have. To achieve the level of skill these competitors possess takes time and practice," said Lt. Col. Stephen Herda, team coach and environmental program manager for the North Dakota National Guard. "As a competitive shooter and a military trainer, you strive to teach someone to do better than yourself. The WPW competition shows how our shooters compare across the nation. It is important to understand the tremendous resource they represent as trainers for our units."
North Dakota Guardsmen competed at the state-level competition in May. They went on to compete regionally in Wyoming in July. The top shooters from these two events were placed into two teams to represent the North Dakota National Guard. The 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), based out of Jamestown, N.D., kept their legacy of superior marksmanship alive by sending seven of the eight top shooters in the state to participate on the WPW teams. The unit has represented North Dakota at the WPW competition for nearly 20 years.
During the competition, the North Dakota National Guard's "A" team took third place in the Apache Alley Engagement. This firing scenario requires teams to engage multiple moving targets with M-16 rifles. The team also took sixth in the Rapid Fire Engagement - another firing scenario requiring team members to hit multiple targets with the M-16 in the fastest time possible - for an overall 19th place out of the more than 90 teams competing.
The North Dakota National Guard's "B" team took second place in the Rapid Fire Engagement and fifth in the Fallen Comrades Exercise for an overall 15th place. The Fallen Comrades Exercise poses a number of obstacles for marksmen requiring them to assist their fellow team members in navigating multiple barriers while accurately engaging targets and maintaining equipment and personnel.
Spc. Levi Harrington, of Jamestown, and a member of the North Dakota National Guard's "B" team, distinguished himself with a third place finish in the Novice category in the 300-yard Feedback match.
Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg and Spc. Tyrel Hoppe were recognized as members of the Chief's Fifty for their overall performance during the exercise. The Chief's 50 recognizes the top 50 marksmen in the entire National Guard and is awarded annually at the WPW event.
Members of the "A" team included Team Captain Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg, Spc. Evan Messer and Spc. Dustin Aman, all of the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), as well as Sgt. 1st Class Russell Gerhardt, of the Camp Grafton Training Center.
Members of the "B" team were Team Captain Staff Sgt. Adam Gehlhar, Spc. Tyrel Hoppe, Spc. Levi Harrington and Spc. Ryan Lindberg, all of the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper).