The Light Fighters School cadre held a small arms competition Aug. 1-3 on Fort Drum to select the best team in each event to represent the 10th Mountain Division (LI) at the U.S. Army Forces Command Small Arms Championship, Oct. 24-27, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The competition was split into three small arms categories: the M9 sidearm, M4 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW).
Last year was the first time 10th Mountain Division participated in the competition. This year the division will be more prepared by allowing candidates extra training before the FORSCOM competition.
“We shot in it last year – that was the first small arms competition we got involved with,” said Staff Sgt. John Brady, 10th Mountain Division Light Fighters School competition noncommissioned officer in charge. “For our competition, we’ve only done one day for M9, one day dedicated to SAW and one dedicated to M4.”
Each morning of the competition the candidates for the specific weapon received transportation to the corresponding weapons range, taking nothing with them but their gear, water and a mountain Soldier’s professional attitude.
The FORSCOM championship will put the chosen shooters through rigorous testing. All weapons categories will be subjected to a nuclear, biological, chemical portion, in which they will have to fire with limited vision due to wearing a gas mask.
The shooters will complete known-distance ranges, moving target engagements and short-range marksmanship. Brady recalled that one of the tasks last year for the M249 was to “saw” a wooden board in half with automatic fire.
The winners of the M9 qualifications are Spc. Shane E. Johnson from D Company, 7th Engineer Battalion,
1st Brigade Combat Team, and Staff Sgt. Jose J. Chavez from C Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
The best automatic riflemen team to represent the division in the M249 event are Spc. Logan A. Finn from B Company, 210th BSB, 2nd BCT, and Pfc. Edward D. Booth from D Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st BCT.
And the top M4 carbine shooters for 10th Mountain Division are Spc. Austin O. Underhill from C Company, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and Spc. Stephen G. Stavish from B Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. Spc. Kenneth G. Crespi from D Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st BCT, will serve as an alternate shooter.
The winners will go on from this selection process to be trained by the Light Fighters School in advanced marksmanship techniques until the competition in October.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the development of the selected shooters’ skills – from already good shots, to making them the best they can possibly be,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin M. Holland, the Mountain Athlete Warrior NCOIC.
Holland was chosen to oversee the three-day event by the Light Fighters School because of his knowledge with weapons systems and his time spent with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
“Something that makes the ‘best’ the best in any sport, or skill, are the fundamentals – being extremely proficient at the basics,” Holland said.
“The emphasis on the fundamentals and the advanced techniques the Light Fighters School will teach these young men will make them some of the best marksmen in the U.S. Army.”