The top 12 shooters in the North Dakota National Guard had the opportunity to compete with the best marksmen in the region at the Marksmanship Advisory Council Regional Competition at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., this past weekend. Some performed so well against their peers from other states that they'll now advance to the All-Army competition in March.
A team of four North Dakota Guardsmen placed second overall and will move on to the All-Army match. The team, which is from the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), won the state competition earlier this month. Team members include Spc. Evan Messer, of Fargo, Staff Sgt. Adam Gehlhar, of West Fargo, Sgt. Robert Mahoney, of Fargo, and Spc. Levi Harrington, of Jamestown.
"These North Dakota Soldiers and Airmen are clearly some of the best shooters in the state and are an incredible asset to the North Dakota National Guard," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "Marksmanship - alongside athleticism and a strong work ethic - is a key component to being a competent guardsman. To step up and be willing to contribute additional time toward enhancing these skills speaks to the character and integrity of all of the competitors."
As an individual shooter, Messer placed fourth overall out of 68 shooters. Spc. Slade Ternes, of Mandan, N.D., won first place in the novice category for close-quarters battle/NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) fire. In that portion of the competition, shooters work through four timed stages of firing, including two stages in which they fire their weapon while wearing a protective gas mask. Ternes serves with the Guard's Battery A of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
"The competition was stiff this year. With 17 teams and 10 individual shooters, it was the largest MAC (Marksmanship Advisory Council) in two decades," said Lt. Col. David Skalicky, the North Dakota National Guard's competitive sports manager. "Our team had both experience and depth. With 12 competitors on three teams from the 119th Wing, 817th Engineer Company and Battery A of the 1-188th ADA, we had the largest group we've ever had at the MAC. Our competitors stood out as steady, straight shooters, and that's what helped us place second on the heels of South Dakota. As we gain more experience at the Winston P. Wilson and All-Army matches, we are creating a solid core of marksmen who will crush the competition next year."
Besides the Dakotas, other teams in the regional match came from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Arkansas and Oregon.