Army National Guard Duo Wins International Sniper Contest
- Sgt. Nicholas Mitchell (left) and Sgt. Saykham Keophalychanh of the Michigan Army National Guard took first place in the 2016 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo: Michigan National Guard)
- Sgt. Saykham Keophalychanh sights in on a target during the 2016 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo: Michigan National Guard)
- Sgt. Nicholas Mitchell negotiates a rope obstacle during the 2016 International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Photo: Michigan National Guard)
Sgt. Saykham Keophalychanh and Sgt. Nicholas Mitchell of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment, outshot 41 other two-man sniper teams from around the world Oct. 17-21, according to a Benning press release.
A team from the Army Special Forces Sniper School placed second, and a team from the 19th Special Forces Group took third place. The names of the second- and third-place teams will not be released because the soldiers are in Special Forces, according to Fort Benning officials.
Teams from the active Army, Army Reserve, National Guard and Marine Corps competed in the event, as well as teams from the Department of Homeland Security, and the Covington, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; and Maryland police departments.
There were also sniper teams from Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Canada and Germany.
A team of Irish snipers took first place in last year's competition, beating out Marine and Army Ranger teams.
This year's competition took place on firing ranges across Fort Benning and tested the competitors' physical fitness and mastery of sniper skills, including target detection, stalking, land navigation and marksmanship.
The 96-hour competition featured 21 day and night events, a three-mile run with weapons and equipment, an eight-mile ruck and very little sleep.
The three Army teams taking first, second and third place is significant compared to the service's shooting performance in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Five soldiers and one Marine were shut out in the shooting competitions after finishing behind competitors from such countries as Russia and China in 50-meter rifle, 10-meter air rifle, 25-meter pistol, and double trap shotgun events.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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