Each year the folks at Ft. Benning, GA, and the U.S. Army Sniper School host one of the most grueling sniper competitions in the world. The activities, and course of fire, are designed to challenge even the best sniper teams in the world.
This year’s competition included teams from the Army, Army National Guard,U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Air Force, Pentagon Police, the San Diego Police Department and countries of Canada, Germany and Ireland – a total of 32 two-man teams from around the world competed.
Unlike prior years, sniper teams who participated, this year, were not allowed to use their own weapons. Instead, the U.S. Army Sniper School issued M110 SASS rifles, equipped with Leupold optics and HORUS H58 reticles. To a sniper, this is equivalent to writing a love letter using someone elses arm. I asked a number of the NCO’s what prompted the decision and the response was overwhelmingly “to level the playing field.”
In prior year competitions, the teams were allowed to use their own weapon systems including day and night vision optics. Teams from the special forces community with access to Title 10 funding had a distinct advantage in equipment choices over many of the “Big Army” units and National Guard units. For 2011, under the leadership of MSGT Bloom, the decision was made to remove that advantage and level the playing field for all teams.
Master Sgt. Kevin Owens and Sgt. 1st Class Terry Gower of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group won the competition that started Tuesday and ended Friday.
Second Place – Cpl. Michael Craven and Cpl. Lloyd Kenny of the Irish Defense Forces.
Third place – Sgt. 1st Class Tony Amerman and Sgt. 1st Class Andy Roy, B of Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg.
Fourth place – Staff Sgt. Jonathan Geib and Sgt. Jesse Wargolet, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, 29th Brigade Combat Team at the Arizona National Guard.
Fifth place – Sgt. 1st Class Gabe Kessay and Sgt. 1st Class Chance Giannelli of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg.