The 10th Mountain Division (LI) held its annual International Sniper Competition team tryouts last week on Fort Drum in a 72-hour trial that will lead up to the final competition to be held at Fort Benning, Ga., in October.
Four teams competed for the right to represent the U.S. Army at Benning during a rigorous event designed to test strength, resolve and accuracy. From beginning to end, this event tested competitors both physically and mentally to the point of shutting everything down but getting on target downrange.
Of the four two-man teams competing, three of them were 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers, with the fourth team being composed of Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
None of the team members had worked together before this competition.
From those four teams, two teams were chosen to compete at Fort Benning. Staff Sgt. John Brady, noncommissioned officer in charge of the sniper competition, had the difficult task of deciding the winners.
“The purpose of this competition is to select teams to represent 10th Mountain Division in the International Sniper Competition,” Brady said. “The top two teams that win will be attached to the Light Fighters School here and spend the next two months training up for the International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.”
The two winning teams, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, and 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, spent more than 72 hours earning their place on the International Sniper Team.
In addition to taking an Army Physical Fitness Test, competitors were required to complete several phases of the tryouts.
During the Stress Shoot phase of the competition, teammates had to drag a 75-pound sled 25 meters to a 100-pound barbell that they had to lift 25 times any way they could and then drag the sled back to its starting position.
Soldiers had to complete a ruck march to the O’Brien Readiness Training Center for the Stalking portion of their tryouts. Teams had to stay hidden in the tree line or bushes in order to remain unseen unless the competition required them to shoot from out in the open. After getting within 300 meters of the judge without being spotted, the sniper would call out “Shooter, Shooter, Shooter,” alerting the nearby “walkers,” a group of Soldiers led by the judge with radios determined to find the snipers before they could take the notional shot.
Teammates Spc. Logan Bellard and Spc. Christopher Burleigh, infantrymen assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-32 Infantry, are both qualified snipers bearing the additional skill identifier of B4 after graduating from the U.S. Army Sniper School at Fort Benning.
“I think the competition is awesome,” Bellard said. “The training is hard and the ruck march was horrible, but we’re all pushing through, supporting each other. We’re going to do really well this year, and it’s mainly because of our coach, Staff Sgt. Brady. He really pushes us to be better.”
Representing 2-87 Infantry will be Staff Sgt. Jason Andrade and Staff Sgt. Joseph Mille.
With the next phase of the International Sniper Competition just two months away, 10th Mountain Division eyes will be trained on the Light Fighters School and the Soldiers from 1-32 Infantry and 2-87 Infantry, hoping for a podium win at Fort Benning.