Illinois National Guard Soldiers compete at marksmanship competition PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Illinois National Guard   
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 08:49

Creal Springs Soldier earns Distinguished Rifleman Badge

FORT BENNING, GA. (02/03/2014)(readMedia)-- Story by Sgt. 1st Class Kassidy L. Snyder, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

Six Illinois National Guard Soldiers competed at the 2014 U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., Jan. 26 to Feb. 1. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon of Creal Springs, Ill., with the 3637th Maintenance Company in Springfield, Ill., earned a Distinguished Rifleman Badge, making him only one of approximately 3,300 to receive the badge since it's inception in 1959.

"It's exciting to receive the badge because only so many have gotten it," said Landon. "It was a goal I set and achieved."

Landon accumulated the last six of 30 leg points needed to reach distinguished status. Leg points are awarded based on an individual's placement among the top 10 percent of competitors in an authorized match. Leg points accumulate throughout a competitor's lifetime until distinguished status is attained; however, Landon reached his points in just three years.

Illinois Soldiers tested their skills shooting the M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol in an advanced combat live-fire competition.

"This is the ultimate train the trainer event," said Lt. Col. Don A. King Jr., the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit commander at Fort Benning. "Our primary focus is to reach out and show capabilities to take back and share with your Soldiers."

The competition consisted of various matches to test the Soldier's shooting proficiency. A multi-gun match tested the Soldiers' ability to transition between a rifle and pistol while engaging various targets at different distances. More challenging matches required a mile and a half run in full combat gear before engaging targets.

In addition to Landon, the team consisted of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Gibbs of Palmyra, Ill., with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign, Ill.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Gleason of Lincoln, Ill., with the 3625th Maintenance Company in North Riverside, Ill.; Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix of Marseilles, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Chicago; Sgt. Jeffrey Buggar of Springfield, Ill., with the 1844th Transportation Company in Quincy, Ill.; and Spc. Joseph Miller of Petersburg, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 232nd Combat Support and Sustainment Battalion in Springfield, Ill.

"Our main focus was to gain experience and bring back new trends and techniques that can be passed on to Illinois Soldiers," said Gibbs. "We hope to enhance the state-level competition and improve weapons qualifications down to the company level."

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