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    USAMU’s 2018 in review

    Fausto Vaca competes at USAMU competition on Fort Benning

    Photo By Maj. Michelle Lunato | Fausto Vaca, a 3-gun competitor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, moves through a stage at...... read more read more

    FORT BENNING, GA, UNITED STATES

    11.29.2018

    Story by Maj. Michelle Lunato 

    U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

    By Michelle Lunato, USAMU Public Affairs Chief

    More than 250 of the top 3-gun competitors from across the Nation recently traveled to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s (USAMU) ranges for the annual Fort Benning Multigun Challenge. This fast-paced, action shooting style match not only gave competitors an opportunity to go head-to-head in a technically challenging match on a historic Army base, but it also gave them a chance to meet a number of the USAMU’s national and international competitors on their own training grounds.

    Co-hosting the Multigun Challenge with the Fort Benning Morale, Welfare and Recreation office is just one way the USAMU has been able to give back to the shooting sports community. It is also pretty symbolic of the fast-paced, aggressive competition schedule they have had this year.

    Just take a look at this USAMU year-in-review summary to decide for yourself though.



    Action Shooting

    The Action Shooting Team put their year in full gear as they took to Las Vegas, Nevada in April to compete in the 2018 U.S. Practical Shooting Association’s (USPSA) Multigun Nationals. In his first year as a Soldier, USAMU’s then-PV2 Nathan Staskiewicz seized the Limited Division Champion title. Before joining the Army, the Omaha, Nebraska native trained and competed as a civilian in the Tactical Optics Division. However, the USAMU already had a Tactical Optics Division competitor, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner from Suffolk, Virginia. So Staskiewicz’s move to Limited Division was not only necessary, but smart, especially since Horner clenched his 10th (and fifth consecutive) title as the USPSA’s National Tactical Division Champion.

    USAMU teammate Sgt. 1st Class Joel Turner from Anderson, South Carolina, shot his way to the top with a third overall placement against 267 other national competitors and a silver-medal finish in the Open Division. Staff Sgt. Tyler Payne, from Princeton, Minnesota, pulled out another podium placement by taking first place as the Heavy Metal Division Champion.

    The wins did not stop there though; the Action Shooting Team continued their domination across the United States. In May at the 3-Gun Nation South Regionals, Horner, Turner and Staskiewicz swept the podium in the Production, Practical and Unlimited Divisions, respectively. Meanwhile, Payne snatched up the Open Division Champion title at both the Carolina Summer PRS Shootout and the Peacemaker Gas Gun Match. These unstoppable Soldiers kept it up and also claimed four division titles in the Wyoming Governor’s 3-Gun Match and three of the four at the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Match.

    While this was all going on, the other part of the Action Shooting Team was just a busy. They kicked off their year in April at the USPSA Area 6 Championships with Prescott, Arizona native, Sgt. Jacob Hetherington, winning the Production Division Champion title while teammate, Staff Sgt. John Browning from Jackson, Georgia, captured the Limited Division. This duo kept up momentum of claiming USPSA division titles at the Double Tap Championships, the Mississippi Classic, the Area 3 Championships, the Area 4 Championships and the Area 5 Championships, just to name a few.


    Shotgun

    As the Action Shooting Team was making their presence known, the Shotgun Team was no different. Kicking it off early on the world stage was 2nd Lt. Amber English, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, native who is an Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) and attached to the USAMU. English claimed both a Bronze Medal and Silver Medal in Women’s Skeet during the International Shooting Sports Federation’s (ISSF) World Cups in Changwon, Korea (April ) and Mosta, Malta (June), respectively.

    In July, the Shotgun Team kept up the pressure by pulling in the wins and high placements. Spc. William Hinton, a Lawrenceville, Georgia native, took the Gold Medal along with his civilian teammate Kayle Browning in the newest Olympic Games’ event, the Trap Mixed Team event, during the World Championship Selection in Colorado Springs.

    Katy, Texas native and five-time Olympian, Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller, claimed the Gold Medal and the Men’s Trap Champion title at the USA Shooting (USAS) Summer Selection in August. Teammate Spc. Alexander Rennert, from the Miami Beach, Florida was not far behind Eller and took up the Bronze Medal.

    Just a month later, Spc. Christian Elliott from Richmond, Indiana, earned the USAS National Men’s Skeet Champion title along with a shiny new Gold Medal. Sgt. Dustan Taylor from Staley, North Carolina, was close on his heels taking up the Silver Medal.

    These along with some other notable accomplishments meant that 14 of the 15 Shotgun Team Soldiers had achieved placements on the U.S. National Team.
    In October, Eller, along with his civilian teammate, Aeriel Skinner, took the Gold in the Mixed Trap Team event at the USAS National Championships.

    At the 12th Championship of the Americas (CAT) in Guadalajara, Mexico, English pulled in another Gold Medal in Women’s Skeet. Eller took up the Bronze in Men’s Trap. And in Men’s Skeet, the team of Taylor, Spc. Phillip Jungman of Caldwell, Texas, and civilian Frank Thompson took the team Gold Medal.



    International Rifle

    Just like the Shotgun Team, the International Rifle Team demonstrated that the USAMU was a force to be reckoned with on the world-class stage.

    At the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) National Champions in July, USAMU Soldiers swept the podium in the Three-Position Rifle Championships. Spc. Tim Sherry from Highlands Ranch, Colorado claimed the CMP National Smallbore Champion title while USAMU teammates, Pfc. Jared Desrosiers, from Swansea, Massachusetts, and Sgt. Patrick Sunderman, from Farmington, Minnesota, followed right behind respectively. At the same competition, Desrosiers won the Iron Sight Open Championship as well as the Open Final Championship. Sunderman seized the Any Sight Open Championship. Then together, Sherry, Sunderman, Desrosiers and Spc. Brandon Muske from Brenham, Texas, snatched up the Open Team Championship title.

    In the Prone Championships, 2012 Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft, from Spokane, Washington, took the Open 3200 Aggregate Champion title while Sherry won the overall Open Iron Sight Match. Then, Uptagrafft and Sherry joined up with Sunderman and Muske to claim the Prone Team Championships.

    In Chateauroux, France, Corsicana, Texas native, Staff Sgt. John Joss, earned the USAMU and WCAP a Silver Medal in the Mixed 50m Rifle Prone event during the World Shooting Para Sport World Cup. This Soldier’s Silver finish was not just another tremendous accomplishment on his already impressive biography, but it was also the first Paralympic quota for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

    Then off in Changwon, Korea, 2016 Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, who hails from Darlington, Wisconsin, earned the Bronze Medal in the Men’s Three-Position Rifle event at the ISSF World Championships. This Bronze Medal was the first World Championship medal in that event for the United States since USAMU’s Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Tamas won his Silver back in 1994. And along with that medal, McPhail “earned the United States its first Olympic quota in shooting for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan,” said USA Shooting officials.

    The International Rifle Team then sped off to the CAT Games in Mexico, alongside their USAMU teammates on the Shotgun Team. There, Sgt. 1st Class George Norton, from Salina, Kansas, won an individual Gold Medal and Olympic quota in the Men’s Three-Position Rifle event with Sunderman taking up the Silver. Together with their civilian teammate, 2016 Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky, they earned the United States the team Gold Medal as well.

    On the women’s side, 2nd Lt. Sarah Beard, from Danville, Indiana, seized up a CAT Gold Medal and Olympic quota in Three-Position Rifle for the USAMU, WCAP and USA. Her qualification score didn’t just get her into the final to win that medal, but it also set an Americas record with her score of 1176. Along with her civilian teammates, MacKensie Martin and Rachel Garner, the powerhouse trio earned the United States another team Gold Medal, setting yet another CAT record with the combined score of 1836.5.

    Beard was not done there though. The USAMU/WCAP Soldier competed and won a number of other medals, both individual and team: Gold in the Women’s 50m Prone event, Gold in the Women’s Team Air Rifle event, Gold in the Women’s Team 50m Prone event and a Bronze in the Air Rifle Mixed Team event.



    Service Pistol

    While the International Rifle Team was making big results for the history books, the Service Pistol Team was doing just the same in their lanes of fire.

    In May at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) 40th Bianchi Cup, Sgt. 1st Class Adam Sokolowski, who hails from Lewistown, Pennsylvania, beat out 163 other international competitors from eight countries and 33 states with his perfect score of 1920-176x. This Soldier’s win not only earned him the titles of 2018 Open Division and Overall Bianchi Cup Champion, but it also made history on a couple of levels. First, his perfect score beat out the reigning eighteen-time Bianchi Cup Champion, Doug Koenig. Second, this Soldier’s win made him the first competitor to consecutively win all three divisions—Production, Metallic and Open—in the entire 40 years of the competition’s history.

    Demonstrating the USAMU prowess even more, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Franks from Las Vegas, Nevada, concluded his final Bianchi Cup showing by winning his first Production Division Champion title, adding to his previous Bianchi Cup Metallic Division Champion titles in 2015 and 2016.

    Literally days before the Bianchi Cup though, the Service Pistol team competed at the 2018 NRA World Action Pistol Championships. This rare competition hosted over 150 international competitors from as far away as Japan and Australia. Sokolowski placed second in the overall competition while Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Cleveland, from Tacoma, Washington, took second in the Metallic Division. Franks stepped it up a notch and earned the title of 2018 World Action Pistol Production Division Champion.

    The Service Pistol Team kept up their dominance at other competitions too. At the Interservice Pistol Championships, the USAMU swept the podium. Staff Sgt. Greg Marksowksi, who is a native of Poland, took the lead as the overall champion while Sgt. Christopher Hudock, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, followed close behind in second. Sokolowski took up the Bronze over the other servicemembers, making the Army fill up the top three individual spots, and the first place overall team spot as well.

    At the CMP National Matches, the Service Pistol Team showed their expertise by claiming a number of top match wins. Sokolowski seized up the Excellence in Competition Champion title while Hudock took President’s Pistol Trophy. And then, USAMU Team Blue claimed the coveted Gold Cup Trophy over the other top team contenders. But the most individual trophies went to Markowski as he took home the General Mellon Trophy, the General Patton Trophy and the General Custer Trophy.

    The wins did not stop there though. The Service Pistol Team snatched up individual and team titles at the NRA New England Regional Pistol Championships when Markowski won the overall match while teammate Staff Sgt. Ryan Franks, a Las Vegas, Nevada, native, came in a close second. At the same match, the USAMU took the team wins in the .22, Centerfire and .45 team matches as well.

    Throw in a few more wins at the Bedford Regional Championships, the Show Me Cup and the Tennessee State Championships and the Service Pistol Team clearly had a full calendar of success.



    Service Rifle

    The Service Rifle Team set off on their own path of success this year as they kicked off their season in April at the CMP Eastern Games by filling up the podium spots with Army stars. Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Green, from Covington, Louisiana, took the overall top honors with teammates Sgt. 1st Class Evan Hess, from Mount Pleasant, Texas, and Sgt. Benjamin Cleland, from Swanton, Ohio, right behind him respectively. In the 4-Man Team Champion Match, USAMU Teams Craig, Peterson and Hess claimed the top three spots as well. That’s frankly, just a few of the wins there.

    At the NRA National Championships, the Army Soldiers displayed their skills yet again. Green earned the title of 2018 National Match Rifle Champion. USAMU teammate Cleland took the National Service Rifle Champion title and became the new record holder, just because he could. As for the team events, USAMU Craig claimed them all.

    Moving over to Quantico, the Service Rifle team showed up determined to maintain the USAMU’s reputation at the 57th Interservice Rifle Championships, a competition where Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard go head to head in both individual and team matches. All the training paid off and the Service Rifle Team Soldiers had tremendous success by winning first place in all five team matches and 11 of 12 individual matches.

    Success at the Interservice Rifle Championships did not mean the team could rest just yet though. They still had the CMP National Matches at Camp Perry to complete. The aggressive schedule did not slow them down. In fact, it seems to have fueled an unstoppable momentum.

    Sgt. Lane Ichord of Waterford, California claimed the individual Service Rifle Champion title while Sgt. 1st Class Shane Barnhart of Ashley, Ohio, seized the individual Match Rifle Champion title.

    In the long-range team matches, teams USAMU Green and Craig won both the Match and Service Rifle Team Championships respectively.

    The USAMU Craig Team went on to not only claim the coveted CMP National Trophy Team Championship Match, but to break the 2006 record of 2958-113x, which was set by Marine Corps Arrieta, with their score of 2968-141x.

    If all this wasn’t exciting enough, Green pulled out a phenomenal Camp Perry performance. On top of winning both the individual Mountain Man and National Trophy matches, Green claimed the prestigious CMP President’s 100 Champion title. Green didn’t just win the match though, he set a new national record with his perfect score of 400-20x.



    Instructor Training Team

    While all the competition teams were out winning medals, the USAMU Instructor Training Team turned all that expertise around by offering service members and civilians across Department of Defense marksmanship training. More than 1000 personnel received one-on-one training from the unique mobile training team. The training occurred on USAMU ranges, but also across the United States. The combat-experienced team traveled to meet units from Germany to Colorado to New Jersey. They covered everything from basic marksmanship fundamentals to more in-depth details needed for long ranges and complicated engagements.



    With all that happening over the course of the competition season, it’s surprising to find out that the USAMU Soldiers found time for other things. Yet, somehow they did. In between all the training, traveling and competing, the Home of Champions managed to host their annual key events: the National Junior Air Rifle Championships, the Interservice Pistol Championships, the U.S. Army Small Arms Championships and the recent Fort Benning Multigun Challenge. These competitions bring hundreds of civilians, veterans and current service members to Fort Benning and gives the USAMU Soldiers a chance to give back.

    And in between all of that, there were leadership changes at the historic unit as well. In January, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Tinker handed over the battalion's top enlisted position to Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Levy. And in June, Lt. Col. James Barrows retired and passed command on to Lt. Col. Harris Lawrence.

    The USAMU Soldiers also added a new mission to their plate in October when the unit transitioned from under the Army Research and Marketing Group to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Under TRADOC, the USAMU Soldiers began to assist the U.S. Army Recruiting Command by traveling to a vast number of trade shows, community events and schools. These trips provided the Soldiers with valuable opportunities to share their Army stories and experiences with the American public. These face-to-face meetings with Soldiers, let hometowns across America get to know their Soldiers and see the expertise of their force.

    So as the year comes to a close, the USAMU team is resting up and making plans for the next year. Inevitably, the 2019 schedule will reflect another action-packed course of fire filled with competitions, training classes, meet-and-greets, and USAMU-hosted events. No matter though, like always, the USAMU Soldiers will be ready to engage and continue the legacy of the 'Home of Champions.'

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.29.2018
    Date Posted: 11.29.2018 17:16
    Story ID: 301716
    Location: FORT BENNING, GA, US 
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