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    Western NY Guard Soldiers use backyard dry firing, private ranges to prep for National Guard shooting match

    2017 NY National Guard Adjutant General's Match

    Photo By Spc. Amouris Coss | U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Studd, Staff Sgt. Raphael Ramos, Staff Sgt. Michael Kapela and...... read more read more

    BUFFALO, NY, UNITED STATES

    07.12.2017

    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    BUFFALO, N.Y.--As he gets ready for the National Guard’s annual rifle and pistol competition, New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Michael Kapela is spending a lot of time in his Buffalo backyard.

    He doesn’t have a home range, but Kapela, a long-time shooter who headed the team that won the 2017 New York National Guard Adjutant General’s Match, says you can get a lot done at home with some targets, a little space and an empty weapon.

    He practices changing from firing position to firing position -- prone to kneeling, then to standing, and back to prone, while getting a good sight picture on a target, Kapela explained.

    The goal is to set a good shooting stance into muscle memory by doing it again, and again, and again, he said.

    “The first time you do the kneeling position, or the last time you do the kneeling position it should not be on the range,” Kapela said.

    He compared it to doing push-ups during the Army physical fitness test.
    “If you do a push up once a month at drill, you will never get stronger and you never really experience the benefits,” he said. “Working on shooting stances is the same thing.”

    Kapela and three other members of the 152nd Engineer Support Company, will be representing New York at the Winston P. Wilson Championship marksmanship competition being held at the Robinson Maneuver Training Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas July 23-27.

    The competition tests the ability of Guard shooters to employ their issue weapons -- M-4s, M-16s and M-9 pistols -- in a variety of shooting situations.

    Dubbing themselves “the Gravediggers” because of their engineer background; Kapela and Lt. Christopher Tornabene, Staff Sgt. Raphael Ramos, and Spec. Tyler Studd will represent New York at the event.

    Ramos, like Kapela, is a Buffalo resident, while Tornabene lives in nearby Williamsville. N.Y. and Studd lives in Medina, N.Y. Their unit is located in Buffalo at the historic Connecticut Street Armory.

    Since being selected at the beginning of June, the four Soldiers have been getting together on their own time at local ranges to practice pistol and rifle shooting. They’ve purchased ammo and had some donated by a gun shop so they could practice, Kapela said.

    The unit doesn’t have the money and the training time to send them to a range to get ready, Kapela explained, so it’s up to the Soldiers to do this for themselves.

    Being in the National Guard has always involved doing things without pay to prepare for training or get ready for a drill weekend, Kapela said.

    “If you’re going to pass the PT test you’re going to do PT every day and not just once a month at drill, he said. “If you’re on a track team you’re going to buy running shoes. If you’re on a football team you’re going to do weight training.”

    This will be the second Winston P. Wilson event for Kapela. He took part in the 2012 competition, which is named for a former chief of the National Guard Bureau.

    The events test the Soldiers ability to hit targets with pistols and their assigned rifle. No specially modified target weapons are used. Soldiers fire the weapon their unit assigns to them.

    Events replicate combat situations, and a variety of targets are used. There are both team and individual shooting events.

    The engagement can involve changing stances and changing magazines. “It challenges you in planning, it challenges you physically and it challenges you in marksmanship,” Kapela recalled.

    In the team events, the shooters have to get a specific number of rounds in each target which means working together to make sure that all four shooters place their shots in conjunction, he said.

    “As you organize your events you have to strategize,” he said.

    One of the really challenging events involves engaging targets with shotguns at close range, Kapela said. After engaging, the shooter runs a half mile to a new location and shoots targets with a pistol and then with his or her rifle.

    “You not only have the pressure, you have PT (physical training) and the unknown distances of targets at varying sizes and locations. It challenges you,” Kapela said.

    The best part of the event, is that while it is a competition, the Soldiers and Airmen who show up are not super competitive, Kapela said.
    The participants share knowledge and best practices and talk shooting. “It’s a gentlemen’s competition,” he said.

    For a guy like himself who loves shooting, there is no better place to be, Kapela added.

    “You’re like at a Star Trek convention but for gun nerds,” he said.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.12.2017
    Date Posted: 07.12.2017 08:29
    Story ID: 240842
    Location: BUFFALO, NY, US 
    Hometown: BUFFALO, NY, US
    Hometown: MEDINA, NY, US
    Hometown: WILLIAMSVILLE, NY, US

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