MADISON, Wis. — Ten Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers earned numerous individual honors and a fifth place team finish at the National Guard’s primary marksmanship competition event held Apr. 23 to May 3 at Arkansas’s Robinson Maneuver Training Center.
Leading the way in individual honors at the Winston P. Wilson Match was Sgt. Brandon Swanson of Company D, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, the contest’s Combat Rifle Individual Aggregate Champion. Meanwhile, Cpl. Terry Block of Tigerton, Wisconsin and Sgt. Joe Prokop of 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry were the National Aggregate Sniper Champions and took second place overall in the Armed Forces Skills at Arms Meeting (AFSAM).
Eighty-two National Guard teams from 42 states participated in the Winston match. According to the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center website, the competition “is to promote the growth and development of state level marksmanship training, as well as evaluate individual and collective tasks pertaining to that training.”
Senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders noted how the training and competition exercises the skills Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers need to fulfill their role as part of the Army’s primary combat reserve.
“The matches are very combat focused with running and shooting at moving targets — things that relate closely how we need to perform in combat,” said Col. J.R. Treharne, who has been active with Wisconsin’s marksmanship teams since 1991. “With the Guard’s overall training, we are trying to get back to basic skills, which are shoot, move and communicate. Shoot is the first term in that and these matches absolutely support that.”
Wisconsin sent two four-man rifle teams and one two-man sniper team to the competition. Although Treharne was the team’s senior member, Swanson was in charge of the group.
“With my retirement coming up, I wanted to go down and support the team one more time,” said Treharne, who had won the event’s overall rifle championship three times in his career.
Block and Prokop teamed up for the five-day sniper competition. Block is the team’s spotter while Prokop is the sniper. Competition success, however, required each to be proficient at both roles.
"To make the event more difficult a lot of the courses of fire switched us up where it was the spotter was the shooter and the shooter was the spotter and there were also events where it was double-shooter,” Block said. “They mixed it up a lot.”
While the Winston match was open only to National Guard teams, the AFSAM included 60 competitors from other U.S. services, as well as military teams from other countries.
"We met international snipers and we met snipers from all over the U.S.,” Block said. “There was definitely a lot of sharing of knowledge between the international and different states.”
An important part of these competitions between the U.S. and troops from other nations is to share knowledge and expand military partnerships.
"I definitely learned a lot from the international guys and how they operated,” Block said. “They learned even more from us because they got to use our weapon systems."
“The event refines those skill sets and gives competitors a chance to network with other top shooters and marksmen from across the nation and from other countries,” Treharne added.
The experience gained through these competitions pays dividends for training the next generation of Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers on this vital combat skill.
"It gives me more experience, and then I can teach our new guys more and then if I can teach them more they can teach the next guys more," Block said. “It is about the passing on of knowledge.”
Winston P. Wilson Match Results:
Alpha Team: Sgt. Brandon Swanson (River Falls, Wisconsin), Sgt. First Class Jordan Cegler (Highbridge, Wisconsin), Col. J.R. Treharne (Fall Creek, Wisconsin), Spec. Brandon Lamphear (Nekoosa, Wisconsin)
5th Place – All States Championship
2nd Place – Patton Pistol Match
2nd Place – Combat Rifleman Match
3rd Place – Moving Target Rifle Match
3rd Place – Rapid Pistol Close Quarter Match
Sgt. Brandon Swanson
Champion - Aggregate National Combat Rifle Champion
1st Place - Rapid Pistol Close Quarter Battle Match
1st Place - Reflexive Fire Rifle Match
2nd Place - Pistol and Rifle EIC Match Aggregate
3rd Place - Aggregate Rifle and Pistol Combined
Warrant Officer Steven Baumel
2nd Place Novice - Combat Rifleman Match
Sniper Team Results: Sgt. Joseph Prokop (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) and Cpl. Terry Block (Tigerton, Wisconsin)
Champion - Aggregate National Sniper Champion
1st Place - Precision Engagement Match
1st Place - Confirmation Match
2nd Place - Pistol Match
3rd Place - Alamo Match