Regional Soldiers share camaraderie during competition

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/02/2014)(readMedia)-- Illinois and Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers sweep the MAC IV RegionalsCAMP PERRY, Ohio. - National Guard soldiers from five states gathered at Camp Perry, Ohio this weekend to compete in the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region Four-Small Arms Championship.

Illinois teams took first and second place overall, while the Wisconsin team placed in third. Both states also claim an individual champion. The individual pistol champion hails from Illinois and the individual rifle champion calls Wisconsin home.

The first place team consists of Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; Staff Sgt. Gabriel Cullers, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment; Sgt. 1st Class John Stockton, HHC, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Spc. Joseph Miller, 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; all of the Illinois National Guard. Stockton was also the individual pistol champion.

Sgt. Brandon Swanson, of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Brigade Combat Team, Wisconsin National Guard, not only took the top individual spot, but was part of the third place team.

Swanson is also a member of the All Guard Service Rifle Team, which means he represents the National Guard at military and civilian marksmanship competitions across the U.S.

Competitions aren't just about winning awards though. The ability to shoot accurately is a basic soldier skill. "I think fundamentally, it's the most important thing in the entire military," said Swanson.

Swanson uses his marksmanship skills to positively affect his fellow soldiers. He works with other units in his state to pass along those skills. He will soon be attending the Small Arms Master Gunner course in his efforts to become a marksmanship instructor.

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Glover, of the Master Weapons Training Team, Ohio National Guard, also knows a little bit about training marksmanship skills. He has personally been shooting competitively since 2002, but has been part of the MWTT for the last six years.

Glover has spent a lot of time on the range training soldiers how to be an effective shooter. "We have done a lot of support for the pre- and post-mobilization training for deploying units," said Glover. "They bring us in to help them out on the live fire portion of their training."

The primary mission of Glover's team is to provide primary marksmanship instruction for all Ohio units. As the Assistant Noncommissioned-Officer-In-Charge of the team, it is something that he takes a lot of pride in, but he isn't too proud to learn some new tips at the competitions though.

"One of our guys has a different hold on his standing position where he gets his arm fully extended on the front hand guard," said Glover. "I think it has promise."

The Marksmanship Advisory Council Small Arms Championships occur each year around the nation. There are seven MAC regions in the U.S. that include all 54 states and territories. Ideally, each state conducts their own state matches to find the best teams to send to the MAC regional matches.

The matches are sponsored by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in North Little Rock, Ark. Col. Franklin D. Powell, commander of the NGMTC, feels competition is another training tool to strengthen our core of service members.

"These shooters need to take what they learn at these competitions back to their units," said Powell. "If they work hard out here and learn from other shooters, they can bring back a wealth of knowledge that can be invaluable to their units."

First time shooter, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabinski, Alpha Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Wisconsin National Guard, seems to agree.

"The shooting community is awesome," said Zabinski. "I can talk to anybody from any state and they're willing to give up any information whatsoever. We're all on the same team."

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