CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. - National Guard soldiers battled alongside soldiers Army wide last week for the top honors in the U.S. Army Small Arms Championship at Fort Benning, Ga., known to those in the marksmanship community simply as All Army.
The All Army is an advanced combat live-fire training event. Training and skill exercises are applicable to all military small arms firing disciplines. The championship had 213 competitors this year, 63 of which were National Guard soldiers.
The California National Guard successfully defended its title and is now two-time overall team champions. California’s two teams took home the first and third place team awards.
In addition to the team awards, National Guard soldiers placed highly in the Overall Individual championships also.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Barber, Joint Forces Headquarters, South Carolina Army National Guard, of Columbia, S.C., came in third place in the Pro class.
Spc. Demetrios Iannios, 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, of Etna, Calif., came in first place in the Open class. Iannios was also on the first place team. Staff Sgt. Jose Moreno, Brigade Support Battalion, 79th Infantry Brigade, of Gardena, Calif., came in third place.
Staff Sgt. James Bruce, 1st Squadron, 297th Cavalry Regiment, of Fort Richardson, Alaska, came in third place in the Novice class.
Even with all the success at the matches, the competition is not just an opportunity for bragging rights. The training value extracted from marksmanship competitions is invaluable to the missions required of soldiers.
The competition is not only an opportunity for bragging rights; the experience gained through competitions is invaluable to increasing the readiness of the soldiers.
“At the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, we use the phrase ‘competition to combat’ to describe the experience of taking lessons learned through competition to enhance the capability and lethality of the soldier in combat,” said Lt. Col. Don King Jr., commander of the USAMU and host of the event.
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Lawrence, Joint Forces Headquarters, South Carolina Army National Guard, of Columbia, S.C., says shooting at paper targets, as opposed to targets that are knocked down when hit, allows soldiers to see exactly where their rounds are impacting. “Actually knowing where you’re hitting is a great training tool for every soldier,” said Lawrence.
In addition to honing marksmanship skills, other critical lessons can be learned from competition. Equipment validation is just as vital a task as shooting. Where you’re placing your magazines, how to utilize them, and how to get to them quickly are just some of the techniques Lt. Col. Louis Millikan, California State Marksmanship Coordinator, takes home with him.
“Making sure soldiers place their equipment in a fashion that allows them to get more bullets down range, accurately and quickly, is what we share in units,” said Millikan.
While the training is invaluable, it is still a source of pride for those in the marksmanship community to do well at All Army. “It was a great competition. I’m happy about the way our team did this year,” said Iannios. “It was fantastic to come back and be able to defend what we did last year."