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Sharpshooters compete in TAG Match
TAG at Operation Jump Start

Photo and story by Sgt. Shawn Morris, 444MPAD

For many Soldiers, being proficient with a firearm is a necessary task for keeping fit to fight. For some, it can be a daunting endeavor requiring hours of practice.

But for a select few, proficiency is only a starting point, and the hours of practice put in are needed not to meet the standard, but to blow it away. Service members from this elite group of sharpshooters gathered at Fort Dix June 22-24 to compete in the New Jersey National Guard’s 2007 Adjutant General’s Combat Championships. The event consisted of three matches: Precision Combat Rifle, Combat Service Pistol and Combat Service Pistol EIC (Excellence In Competition). Nearly three-dozen shooters aimed for perfection in a competition where a fraction of an inch could separate the winners from the losers.

Maj. Ken Kurtz, 108th Air Refueling Wing, placed first in the rifle match, while Tech. Sgt. Donald Smith of that same unit took first place in both the pistol and EIC matches and third in the rifle match. The 108th also won as a team for all three matches, aided by the contribution of 108th member Lt. Col. Andrew Kuhtik, who took second place in the EIC match. First Lt. Benjamin Stoner, 250th Brigade Support Battalion placed second in the rifle match and third in the pistol match. He credits his success to a lifetime of shooting.

“I began my familiarization with firearms when I was 10 and my father used to take me shotgun hunting after I completed the N.J. Hunter Education Safety Course,” he explained. “My father took the time to show me the proper handling, operation, aiming and firing of a firearm.” “Good Army Marksmanship training, however, is what helped me to hone in on my skills and become a better marksman,” he added.

For Stoner, this competition is one in a long line dating back to his youth. “My first shooting competition was a “turkey shoot” at the Moose Lodge in Jackson, where I beat all the adults and took home the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner,” he recalled. “When I was 16, I competed in a National Police Explorer Youth Pistol Competition in Boulder, Colo., where I placed sixth overall, and first in rapid fire, out of about 3,000 competitors.” The AG competition still presented a challenge. “Firing with a weapon not perfectly zeroed and dealing with the 10- to 15-MPH wind had to be the most challenging part of this competition,” he said. “Everything else went smoothly, thanks to the great efforts of the organizers, support staff, and guest instructors from the N.Y. Army National Guard Marksmanship Team.”

Rounding out the competition were Sgt. 1st Class Andrzej Ropel, who placed second in the pistol match, and Sgt. Donald Seymour, who took third in the EIC match.

Table of Contents
Volume 33 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2007 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs