A higher caliber of skill

Story and photos provided by Lt. j.g. Travis Dopp

Safe, semi and burst. Those are the three selector level positions on the M4 carbine rifle, one of the four rifles used in The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match, aka TAG. There is no full auto position on the M4, but the level of focus and stress go full auto in a competition of marksmanship skills in a sudden-elimination challenge.

Members of Sector Anchorage train their weapons on targets during the TAG Match on JBER. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

This year the Alaska National Guard hosted 11 four-person teams and a few individual shooters for the annual marksmanship competition held on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Sept. 8-10. The Coast Guard brought a four-man team composed of members of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.

“We were very excited to field a team in this event for the second year in a row. The ability to participate not only provides additional range time that would otherwise be unavailable, but it offers the ability to work with members of our fellow Armed Forces. This allows us the opportunity to talk with each other about our various missions, how we accomplish them and gain insight to new ideas and approaches,” said Lt. j.g. Travis Dopp, a command duty officer and boarding officer at Sector Anchorage.

The three-day competition consisted of four different rifle and four different pistol events. Pistol events ranged in distance from 15 to 30 yards and required shooters to fire at multiple types of targets from various positions while alternating between their dominant and non-dominant hands. The rifle competitions required shooters to fire their weapons at distances ranging from 25 yards to 500 yards using iron sights while varying shooting position. One factor remained constant throughout all of the events: A short supply of time. In some of the events shooters had more rounds than they did seconds to fire them, which required the teams to balance shot placement with the stress of time constraints.

As part of the National Guard’s marksmanship program, members who place high in the standings are eligible to compete at regional and national levels. Since the Coast Guard does not formally participate in competitive marksmanship matches sponsored by the Department of Defense or National Rifle Association, Coast Guard members are not eligible to advance to these competitions. However, the Coast Guard encourages its members to represent the service in excellence in competition events to enhance marksmanship and overall weapons proficiency.

“Many people do not realize that the Coast Guard has a formal competitive marksmanship program with the ability to use match grade weapons supplied by the Coast Guard. While the TAG Matches are not an official part of that, they do play a vital role. Members may lack knowledge or experience of competitive shooting, not have resources to the required equipment, or simply be nervous to take the step into a competitive environment. Being involved in the TAG Match allows our members to take that initial step and help draw them into the sport, and I hope that our involvement here can help highlight the fact that the Coast Guard has many members interested in bolstering our service’s marksmanship program,” said Dopp.

The event ended with an awards ceremony in the drill hall at the National Guard Armory on JBER. Brig. Gen. Blake Gettys, adjutant general, Alaska Air National Guard, awarded all four members of the Coast Guard team the Alaska National Guard Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Proficiency Award. Chief Petty Officer Jason Mozingo, a gunner’s mate, earned the top overall shooter in the “new” category and received the coveted prize of a new rifle. Team Sector Anchorage intends to elevate their sights on scoring another brand new rifle at next year’s match.

Chief Petty Officer Jason Mozingo, a gunner’s mate, shows off the new rifle he received for achieving the top overall shooter in the “new” category. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Members interested in learning more about the Coast Guard’s marksmanship program or how to request a match grade weapon for competition purposes should contact their unit armory, CG-721, or visit the competitive marksmanship page on the Coast Guard Portal at https://cg.portal.uscg.mil/search/Pages/Results.aspx?k=marksmanship%20program&s=All%20Sites

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