YAKIMA, Wash. – As a crackle echoes through the sun-drenched valley, a strong male voice can be heard. “Hit.” Another crack. “Miss.” Another three rounds land, a voice with a Japanese accent asks, “How many targets did we hit?” A male with an upper Midwest inflection answers, “three hits, two misses.”
The echoed scores mark the end of the first round of firing in a friendly sniper competition between the U.S and Japanese armies during Rising Thunder 2019 on Sept. 1.
Rising Thunder is an annual Yakima Training Center exercise, this year featuring the Illinois Army National Guard’s 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 108th Sustainment Brigade, and Japan’s 25th Infantry Regiment.
Staff Sgt. Jeremie Moon of the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment said the sniper teams trained to collect data for firing more accurately based on wind, temperature and humidity.
In one exercise, the teams sent one sniper each to the top floor of a three-story building, with their targets in a model village 450 yards away.
“We would shoot a target, then the Japanese would shoot and we would alternate targets until all the targets were down,” Moon said. “Working as a team, figuring our strengths and weaknesses.”
“I appreciate having such an opportunity to shoot long from a building,” said Sgt. 1st Class Yukiro Matsuda from the 25th Inf. Reg. sniper team. “It is not easy to get the same opportunity in Japan.”
The competition was one of many joint training exercises over two weeks, culminating with a live-fire iteration combining the talents of both sniper teams.