Illinois National Guard members are recognized at the Winston P. Wilson matches Print
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Written by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Aleah M. Castrejon, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office   
Monday, 12 May 2014 08:26

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (05/09/2014)(readMedia)-- Brig. Gen. Daniel Krumrei, the Illinois National Guard Adjutant General presented awards at the 43rd annual Winston P. Wilson (WPW) competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark., May 8.

"Shooting is a perishable skill," said Krumrei. "What makes the competition so valuable are the skills the servicemembers bring back to our Soldiers and units. These skills improve our combat readiness and prepare us to defend our nation."

The WPW matches are held at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Little Rock, Ark. Servicemembers from around the nation compete in the WPW matches. There are approximately 90 teams and 20 different matches. In order to make it to the WPW competition, the servicemembers must complete vigorous training, which includes multiple days on the range and volunteering their time to polish their shooting skills. Expert shooters from each state are sent to compete in this long time-honored competitive set of matches.

"Shooting is not only for the competitions," said Sgt. 1st Class David Perdew of Astoria, Ill., the Illinois National Guard state marksmanship coordinator. "The skill is fine tuned and leaves an impact on the servicemembers and benefits the Guard as a whole."

The reflexive fire match is one of the 20 matches in the WPW competitions. Reflexive Fire is an advanced marksmanship skill that relies on the shooters instinctive response to engage close targets in a short period of time. During this match, the servicemembers must accurately fire the rifle while doing a series of movements.

Staff Sgt. Gabe Cullers of Carrier Mills, Ill., with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry in Marion, Ill., took first place in the reflexive fire match.

"We work on our marksmanship skills for multiple days, shooting all day," said Cullers. "It feels good to represent the state as a first place winner."

The matches are not an easy task. The servicemembers must be well rounded in shooting, health and in dedication. The matches take a lot of time and commitment, said Gen. Frank Grass, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

To be a committed marksman it takes time and dedication beyond normal duty obligations.

"We spent five days in Tennessee zeroing rifles and running through matches and drills on a range from sun up to sun down," said Sgt. Jeff Bugger of Springfield, Ill., with the 1844th Transportation Company in Quincy, Ill., who took second place in the reflexive fire match. "It's a good feeling to know we came out on top while competing against hundreds of other competitors."

This competition is invaluable, as the skills are passed to the junior enlisted, said Grass. Having competed in the WPW matches years ago.

"These servicemembers come from all over the country honing their skills to compete in this competition," said Grass.

Grass awarded the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge for their outstanding marksmanship abilities during the WPW rifle and pistol championships.

This year, two Illinois National Guardsmen received the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge: Sgt. 1st Class John Stockton of Springfield, Ill., with the Headquarters Company, 33rd Brigade Combat Team in Urbana, Ill., and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix of Marseilles, Ill., with the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Chicago. Mix is also a distinguished marksman in both the rifle and pistol discipline. The distinguished marksmanship program has been around since 1884 and is what the shooters strive to obtain.

The competitors learned and taught each other on individual and team proficiency with rifles, pistols and shotguns during numerous matches, where they competed with the best shooters from around the nation.