CAMP ROBINSON, ARK.- North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) marksmen competed in the 41st Winston P. Wilson (WPW) Championship at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson, Ark. The competition was held April 22-28, 2012, with three Soldiers placing in the top 50, earning them recognition as a “Chief’s 50” shooter.
“Throughout military history, the single-most essential skill for an army’s success was the individual Soldier’s ability to successfully engage their weapon,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “I am proud of each of our Guardsmen who engage in competitions to hone their skills and create avenues of success in their military career.”
North Dakota Guardsman Spc. Tyrel Hoppe, of the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), based out of Jamestown, N.D, came out on top as best individual shooter in one event, with a first place in the reflexive fire match event. In this match, the shooter engages targets at 25 yards with an M-16 rifle from a standing position with the objective of scoring the most points. Hoppe placed 8th overall in the overall competition. Team “A” placed second in the Rapid Fire Engagement match in which the team lines up in the prone position with an M-16 rifle. The objective is to clear all targets from 300 yards in the fastest time possible.
Team “A” consisted of Staff Sgt. Adam Gehlhar, Spc. Evan Messer, Spc. Levi Harrington and Spc. Tyrel Hoppe, all members of the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), based out of Jamestown, N.D. Team “B” consisted of Sgt. 1st Class Russell Gerhardt with Camp Grafton Training Center, Spc. Slade Ternes with A/1-188th ADA, Master Sgt. Brian Rook and Tech. Sgt. Josh Vonbank, both members of the 119th Wing out of Fargo.
North Dakota sent two four-man teams as well as their highly experienced coach, Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg. Varberg, a member of the 817th, and a recent inductee into the NDNG Marksmanship Hall of Fame, has previously been a competitor in the WPW. He has since taken a new role as a coach to allow for others to build on their marksmanship skills.
More than 400 registered competitors across 44 states and two territories demonstrated their marksmanship skills as they competed in a multitude of live-fire exercises. This marksmanship competition offered Soldiers and Airmen an opportunity to test their marksmanship skills in a battle-focused environment using rifles, pistols, shotguns, as well as machine guns.
State Marksmanship Coordinator Lt. Col. David Skalicky said, “The Winston P. Wilson pitted the best shooters in the Army and Air National Guard in a head-to-head competition. Our Soldiers and Airmen exceptionally displayed the skill of marksmanship that separates the military from all other professions.”
North Dakota had three Soldiers qualify in the top 50, earning them recognition as a “Chief’s 50” shooter. Gerhardt and Harrington were first time recipients and Hoppe was a second time recipient of the award. These Soldiers will now go on to compete for a position on the “All Guard” marksmanship team. Lt. Col. Skalicky said, “I am very proud of our marksmen and look forward to watching them excel in future competitions.”
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, nearly 400 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while about 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr Set: "Winston P. Wilson Marksmanship"