Taking aim at marksmanship
Posted by PA1 Kelly Parker, Monday, June 27, 2016
Precision, pressure, intensity, challenge. These are just a few words that describe what it’s like to participate in The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match, also known as the TAG Match.
The marksmanship competition was put on by the Alaska National Guard and provides a platform in which units and individuals of the armed forces can test and improve upon their marksmanship skills. The annual event was held in early June and it was the first time members from the United Stated Coast Guard had an opportunity to participate in the Alaska division.
“This type of exposure and training is very beneficial to the Coast Guard,” said Ensign Travis Dopp, a boarding officer from the Sector Anchorage Enforcement Division and a participant in the TAG Match. “The opportunity to participate in this event not only provides additional range time, but it does so under a simulated stress environment. When combined with the competition factor, the event not only increases overall proficiency with a firearm, but unit cohesion as well.”
The three-day competition consisted of five different rifle events and four separate pistol events. In the rifle events, the participants were required to fire their weapons using iron sites at targets with distances ranging from 25 yards to 400 yards, race from one position to another in order to engage targets before another team could, and take standing shots of varying distances in a sudden-elimination challenge. In the pistol events, shooters tested their abilities while firing at a multitude of targets utilizing various shooting positions, firing with their left and right hands, and shooting around barricades. Rapid time constraints ensured even the most competent shooters felt the stress.
Dopp, who spent four months planning the event with the National Guard, said the training provided an opportunity for service members to test their marksmanship skills in a battle-focused environment.
The Coast Guard brought a four man team made up of enforcement officers from Sector Anchorage who, even before this event, possessed a lot of experience and proficiency in firing weapons. But this competition added a little more to their standard weapons training, such as unfamiliar courses and a high stress, competitive environment.
“It was not just the extra range time that was beneficial,” said Dopp. “The ability to work with the other branches, to learn about what their respective units do and to educate them on what we do was a fantastic opportunity. There were some very high-performing shooters at the event which also enabled less experienced members the opportunity to learn new ideas, to figure out what works for them and then take that knowledge back home with them to improve their performance.”
Unit cohesion and comradery were also a byproduct of being in such a competitive atmosphere where four man teams had to not only rely on their own skills, but also those of their teammates. Coast Guard members were also able to use this experience, and any points earned, towards the Coast Guard’s marksmanship program which recognizes the efforts of high performing marksmen.
At the conclusion of the event an award ceremony was held, hosted by Brig. Gen. Laurel Hummel, adjutant general, Alaska Army National Guard, in the drill hall at the National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where competitors were awarded the Alaska National Guard Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Proficiency Award. The overall top novice shooter was also awarded a brand new rifle. While the Coast Guard didn’t take top honors this year, they will certainly be back next year to test and push themselves in the very competitive environment that is the TAG Match.