JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The Alaska National Guard hosted its annual marksmanship competition sponsored by Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, May 15-16.
“The TAG Match is the adjutant general’s annual marksmanship competition between both the Air Guard and the Army Guard, and we host the event so that all of our Soldiers and Airmen can compete against each other for honors of the best marksmen in the state,” said Maj. Allen Short, the officer in charge of the Small Arms Readiness Training Section for the Alaska National Guard.
“Those Soldiers and Airmen will also have the opportunity to be on our state team should we go to regional and national matches, and they will represent the state of Alaska,” said Short.
There were 20 teams of four members each and a few walk-on individual participants. Twelve Soldiers and Airmen were champions and the newest additions to the state team. Greely A Team was the overall winner.
“We have representatives from every section, and we have competitors from every section,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Felts, state marksmanship coordinator for Alaska. “Our goal at the end state is to support all units in marksmanship activities that relate directly to combat readiness.”
On the first day, participants were separated into two groups, with one starting on the pistol range and the other at the rifle range. After the groups finished at the first range they were assigned to, they switched and competed on the opposite range.
Felts said the competition is only partially about identifying the top marksmen for the state team. The primary intent of the TAG Match is to provide training for all competitors and their units.
“It ends up being a good thing, like, ‘How do I get better at this?’” he said. “But they’re also becoming subject matter experts in their unit. Qualifying once a year isn’t enough, especially to get confident, competent and capable marksmen, regardless of your Air Force specialty code or military occupational specialty.”
In addition to the training value and selection of the state team’s members, the competition enables service members from the two branches the opportunity to get to know how the other branch operates.
“The benefit of it being a joint program, and of us coming together to do this, is that it’s a lot easier to form that team once we start to know people across the entire enterprise,” said Short. “We’re all on the same team, but the Air and Army use different terms; we do things slightly different.
“We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and together we’re all stronger,” he said. “This enhances all of the other joint activities that the Guard is going to be called to do.”
The winners go on to the regional competition scheduled in late July.