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News | July 13, 2021

NHNG Conducts Annual Combat Marksmanship Competition

By Tech. Sgt. Charles Johnston, NHNG Deputy State PAO

The New Hampshire National Guard held its annual combat marksmanship match July 8 – 11 at Fort Devens, Mass.

Soldiers and airmen competed in various team and individual small-arms events, undaunted by torrential rain that belted the region as Tropical Storm Elsa passed through.

“This is what it’s about,” said NH Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities, one of 75 shooters. “It’s a warrior ethos.”

Informally known as the adjutant general’s match, it promotes marksmanship proficiency and provides guardsmen the opportunity to test weapons skills in a battle-focused environment. They fired standard-issue M16 rifles or M4 carbines at ranges up to 500 yards. Matches also featured Berretta M9 or SIG M17 pistols at distances up to 30 yards.

Combat gear, including Kevlar helmets and load-bearing vests, were required loadout. Courses of fire varied. Some required running, different shooting positions and quick reloads to engage targets for score.

“The biggest part of this match is for soldiers to build confidence in themselves and their equipment and their ability to engage targets at various distances under stressful conditions,” said Maj. Brooks Hayward, match director.

Organizers added a surprise mystery event, which entailed a unique array of weaponry. Competitors peppered targets with Vietnam Era M14s, toppled bowling pins with M26 shotguns and hurled axes at wooden bullseyes.

Fourteen teams from units across the state, including Soup, No Friends, Orangutags and the Dust Bunnies blazed through thousands of rounds while vying for top-squad honors.

Once barrels cooled, The Other Guys proved victorious and, true to the spirit of the NYPD detective portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the movie, that peacocks can indeed fly. The all-military police team included Capt. Patrick Randall of the 941st MP Battalion, and Staff Sgt. Nathan Huntley, Sgt. Cameron Douglas and Sgt. Matthew Proulx of the 237th MP Company.

Individual honors went to Randall, who finished as overall champion (open category), and Sgt. Austin Rosende of 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment, who finished as top novice.

The state’s newest top gun says there’s nothing quite like going head-to-head against the best.

“When you’re training on the range, it’s a great way to diagnose deficiencies and find improvements that you need to make,” Randall said. “But competition is the best way to increase your skillset compared to other shooters, so it’s by competing you’ll become a better shooter.”

Randall suggested that future competitors try visualization in addition to practicing sound fundamentals.

“Learn those courses of fire and study them so you don’t have to focus on listening to the instructions when you’re on the range,” Randall said. “Shoot the course of fire in your head 70 times before you actually shoot it, just like an athlete does.”

A lot of work behind the scenes made this year’s match a success. Hayward, Sgt. 1st Class David Musso, Staff Sgt. Wayne Comtois and Staff Sgt. Joseph Wyner headed a crew of about 30 soldiers who worked long hours organizing events, setting up targets, issuing ammunition, tabulating scores and ensuring range safety.

“I hope everyone had a good time,” said Wyner, deputy match director. “We put a lot of time into this to give shooters a new look at marksmanship events.”

New Hampshire Guardsmen interested in competing are strongly encouraged to attend next year.

“It doesn’t matter what your experience level is,” Hayward said, “It doesn’t matter how confident you are. Just come out here and try it. You will have a great time.”