Louisiana National Guard holds annual marksmanship competition
By Spc. Duncan Foote, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
PINEVILLE, La. –The Louisiana National Guard’s top marksmen from around the state gathered at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana for its annual The Adjutant General’s Match, March 23-24.
Seventy-three Soldiers and Airmen put their skills and training to the test with the state’s top 20 shooters earning a spot on the Governor’s Twenty. Each team consisted of four shooters.
“Here as competitors, you’re competing against the Soldiers and Airmen from your left and right,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Chapman, a Farmerville, Louisiana, native and the state marksmanship coordinator.
Chapman said he models the competition after the regional and national level competitions that Soldiers and Airmen can compete in. The matches are designed to improve combat readiness by exposing shooters to stressful situations.
Throughout the competition, shooters’ rifle and pistol skills are challenged in areas such as precision shooting and reflexive fire. Shooters complete a total of eight matches.
The matches consist of six individual matches and two team matches: Rifle Rundown, Rifle Reflexive Fire, Special Zero, Pistol Antibody Armor, Pistol Excellence in Competition (EIC), Rifle EIC, Know Your Limits and the General George Patton Combat Pistol Match.
Each match is shot with specific targets that have score rings ranging from two to five points. The score rings are either in the facial area of the target or center mass.
“These are not your qualification courses, these are combat matches,” said Chapman. “These are courses where you have to act like you’re in a combat situation.”
For shooters like Spc. Christopher Nix, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 205th Engineer Battalion, it was his second time participating in the match.
“This year’s match has been fun, getting to come out here with friends and shooting with the best of the state, and I look forward to doing this in the years to come,” said Nix.
TAG Match means more than just shooting and competing; it gives Soldiers and Airmen a chance to get to know one another while exchanging shooting techniques.
Capt. Scott Mucci, a design manager for the Construction Facility Management Office and a member of HHC 205th Engineer Battalion, was also a shooter this year.
“I learned a lot about shooting,” said Mucci. “Getting a better understanding of what it takes to get Soldiers qualified and what goes into this will help me in my job with developing the armories that we will be building for our Soldiers.”
Chapman said that Soldiers and Airmen that want to compete in the future should get with their chains of command so that they can register the shooters and teams for the next competition.
At the end of the competition, shooters attend an awards ceremony where the top shooters and team are named.
This year shooters were joined by Brig. Gen. Thomas Friloux, the director of joint staff, Louisiana National Guard; Col. Jason Mahfouz, the director of operations; Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford Ockman, LANG command senior enlisted leader; Command Sgt. Maj. Sud Robertson, LANG senior enlisted advisor – Army; and Command Chief MSgt. Gerald Raynal, senior enlisted advisor – Air.
“To you Soldiers and Airmen who participated, as a combat infantryman, I can’t explain how important enough it is to have great marksmanship and every one of you show that in our Army and Air Force units,” said Friloux. “So no matter if you get an award today or not, take what you’ve learned back to your Soldiers and Airmen because it is absolutely critical that we share our skill set.”
This year Tech. Sgt. Stephen Boniol, of Alexandria, Louisiana, was named Top Gun with the highest overall combined score, as well as the highest individual rifle score.
“It feels good. A lot of hard work paid off,” said Boniol. “Encouraging new shooters is mainly what I focus on throughout the match.”
Air Force Tech Sgt. Matt Landry had the highest overall score in the Pistol Antibody Armor match and the highest individual score for pistol.
Army Staff Sgt. Steven Chen had the highest overall score in the Rifle Reflexive Fire match.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Scarborough had the highest score in the Special Zero match and the Rifle Rundown match.
Highest team honors went to the Air National Guard’s Bullzeye Buckie which included Tech. Sgt. Stephen Boniol, Master Sgt. Ronald Duvoisin, Tech. Sgt. Matt Landry and Senior Airman Jeffery Soulis.
In addition to the top twenty competitors being awarded a Governor’s Twenty tab to wear on their uniforms, the top 10 percent earn points towards a bronze EIC badge. These shooters can then compete at regional and national levels to earn more points towards the bronze badge, followed by silver and then the gold EIC badge, which is the highest military marksmanship designation.
The top eight Soldiers and Airmen will be considered for the Louisiana National Guard marksmanship team to compete at the regional and national levels.