An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | June 13, 2024

Champions repeat at NH National Guard marksmanship match

By Master Sgt. Charles Johnston

Team El Salvador and Mountain Company commander Capt. Robert Matzelle defended their titles in the 2024 New Hampshire National Guard Combat Marksmanship Match held June 6 to 8 at Fort Devens, Mass.

The Salvadorans bested a field of 21 four-person squads in the team competition and Matzelle finished as the top individual shooter out of 90 competitors.

"The reason I come out here and shoot is, one, I want to set a good example for my soldiers, and two, shooting is part of my job,” Matzelle said.

Matzelle’s “Cool Guy Tabs Plus One” crew placed second behind an impressive showing from the Salvadorans who along with squads from Cabo Verde and Canada competed for the second straight year.

“Those guys are legit,” Matzelle conceded.

Known simply as the adjutant general’s or "TAG" match, the three-day shoot featured various pistol and rifle events at ranges from 20 to 100 yards in a battle-focused environment.

Marksmen employed two weapons: M4 rifles topped with precision optics and M17/M18 pistols with iron sights. Extensive tactical gear, or “kit,” was worn, including helmets, holsters, ammo pouches and load-bearing vests.

Competitors pushed through nine courses and fired a prescribed number of rounds from a standing, prone, sitting or kneeling position within strict time limits. One course forced teams to sprint about 100 yards to the firing line to elevate breathing and challenge accuracy. Others mandated quick draws, magazine changes and target transitions.

“The directions, the time, all the minute, nuanced details of each different course of fire, we’re just not accustomed to it yet,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Sawicki of Joint Force Headquarters, who captained an inexperienced “Better Blindfolded” team of airmen. “All of those things, they all just kind of play on top of each other. Makes it a little stressful but in a good way, a fun way.”

Staff Sgt. Wayne Comtois, a marksmanship instructor with operations, helped plan and coordinate the match with experience gained from national-level competitions. He and a team of 11 soldiers ensured ranges ran safely, efficiently and provided optimal training value.

“The soldiers and airmen who come here and compete, they learn different techniques,” Comtois said. “They learn different combat related tasks, they bring that back to their units, and they spread the knowledge.”

NH Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities addressed competitors once all ammunition was expended and final scores were tallied.

“The American public trusts you to do the right thing,” he said. “And that trust is based upon us as American soldiers and airmen being able to do our job. And it all starts here: basic marksmanship fundamentals.”