JERICHO, Vt. - New Hampshire National Guard shooting squads won gold and silver for a second straight year at a regional match at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site Aug. 18-20.
The Marksmanship Advisory Council “MAC” Region 1 Championship featured competitors from throughout New England and New York.
“I am humbled by the performance of the team, all of our shooters, and feel honored to bring back an overall first and second-place win for the region,” said Capt. Patrick Randall of Recruiting and Retention Battalion, whose Team Alpha narrowly defeated New Hampshire Team Bravo.
Vermont’s Alpha team finished 3rd overall.
The MAC engages competitors in annual battle sustainment exercises, enhancing pistol and rifle marksmanship skills and mobilization readiness.
Participants battled it out in a series of creative matches. The MAC also hosted Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) rifle and pistol matches, which gave Guardsmen the chance to earn points toward coveted EIC badges, the highest individual awards authorized for achievement in marksmanship competition.
Participants had to contend with sporadic, heavy rain that fogged optics and turned shooting ranges muddy for much of the event.
“There’s been a lot of poor weather conditions — poor conditions in general— and we’ve stepped up, maintained a positive attitude, stuck together as a team, maintained our plans and we’ve done a really great job,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lamorte II of New York National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.
Lamorte was captain of a four-person New York team that brought home silver medals in the Fire Team Assault Match while going head-to-head against 50 Air and Army Guardsmen.
New Hampshire’s 11 competitors earned a whopping 30 team and individual awards. The dominant performance secured an official invite to next year’s prestigious “All-Army” small arms championships at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“It shows how strong our marksmanship program is and how well our coordinator facilitates the training,” said Tech. Sgt. Connor Cunio of the 157th Air Refueling Wing and Team Alpha’s top shot.
New Hampshire’s marksmanship program coordinator, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Wyner, had an enviable pre-match task: choosing from a talented pool of sharpshooters for the state’s top four-person team. Rules required he choose one competitor who had never fired on an Alpha squad.
After reviewing recent shooting scores and match regulations, Wyner and Randall ranked too closely for a data-driven decision. So they flipped a coin.
“I do not recall a time when the first and second place teams were so evenly matched,” said Randall, who won the toss, the gold, and — at least until next year —bragging rights. “The training and preparation by Wyner are unmatched.”
Picking teams is unlikely to get any easier with newcomers like Capt. Robert Matzelle. The Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain) commander, placed first in the novice category, won seven individual awards and helped power Team Bravo to second place.
“I am thankful to all the other members of the team for taking me under their wing and showing me the way to perform well in competition,” Matzelle said. “Without their help, I could not have achieved the results that I did.”
Vermont Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cara Krauss, the match director, encouraged participants to bring back what they learned to their home units to encourage better marksmanship and drive future participation.
“If you all help one person out, we can potentially double this event next year,” said Krauss. “So I challenge you to do that.”
Contributing: Master Sgt. Charles Johnston, Joint Force Headquarters - New Hampshire National Guard, and Spc. Joseph Liggio, New York National Guard