104th Marksmanship Team on Target
By Staff Sgt. Matthew Benedetti, Public Affairs Journalist, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published September 11, 2011
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- "Check your sights, check your magazines and don't drop anything," advised Tech Sgt. Chris Cekovsky, a combat arms instructor and member of the 104th Security Forces Squadron.
The 2011 State Marksmanship Competition was held from 12-14 August 2011 at Fort Devens, Mass. Units from across the Massachusetts National Guard participated in the nationally sanctioned competition that also served as a valuable training opportunity. The top shooters qualify to represent the Massachusetts Guard on the national stage at a competition held in October at Camp Robinson, Ark.
Airmen were presented with a unique training opportunity. Typically, Air Force personnel are limited to a 25 meter range and firing at the Devens range allows Airman to shoot 400 meters with an M16, gaining valuable experience.
Soldiers and Airmen fired both rifles and pistols at various distances and from different positions. The three day match measured the proficiency of each individual and team against the field. For example, participants fired 10 shots each from a pistol at a fixed target from 30 yards, 25, 20 and then 15 in incrementally shorter time intervals.
"This event is a fantastic opportunity to train and compete with our Army brothers in a realistic simulated combat environment. It is a high speed exercise and we are glad to be here," said Tech. Sgt Val Johnson.
The challenging event allows unit members to become more acquainted with firing weapons in a competitive setting resulting in a subsequent improvement in performance.
Master Sgt Wilson has previously participated and enjoys the atmosphere. "The competition gives you the jitters and is more stressful than qualifying. The time element and rapid magazine changes can be tough. You cannot simulate combat but competition will drive your heart rate up safely without bullets flying at you," he said.
Tech Sgt. Stephen Jeffers, a full time member of Security Forces and an expert shot, points to the value of the match. "Getting time with small arms is difficult and to get this experience is important," he said. "It is easy to shoot a weapon on your own pace but the time element can be an added stress."
Perceived as the favorite of the competition, members of the 104th did not disappoint attaining the highest team scores in the competition. As well, Tech Sgt. Chris Cekovsky was awarded the First Sergeant Kevin A. Dupont Memorial Trophy for tallying the highest individual cumulative score. His name will be added to a plaque on display at Joint Force Headquarters in Milford, MA.
"I was impressed with the performance and professionalism of the 104th team members. They were outstanding," said CW2 Dennis Devine, Range Control Officer.