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Kentucky Soldiers, Airmen aim for marksmanship awards

Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen send shots downrange during the annual Adjutant General's Kentucky National Guard Rifle and Pistol State Training Event at Fort Knox Ky., July 31, 2016. The event was open to all Kentucky National Guardsmen. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky Army National Guard)

Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen send shots downrange during the annual Adjutant General's Kentucky National Guard Rifle and Pistol State Training Event at Fort Knox Ky., July 31, 2016. The event was open to all Kentucky National Guardsmen. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky Army National Guard)

FORT KNOX, Ky. -- More than 70 Soldiers and Airmen of the Kentucky National Guard competed in pistol and rifle matches during the annual Adjutant General's Marksmanship Match here July 30-31.

The event brings together the state's top shooters from the Army and Air Guard for competition, training and bragging rights. Competitors participate in individual matches, as well as on a team level.

The 238th Regional Training Institute's team consisted of Maj. Timothy Mitchell, brigade supply officer, and Staff Sgt. Shahid Iqbal, supply sergeant. This year was Mitchell's first year competing and Iqbal's second.

"I like to practice shooting on the civilian side, so I thought it was interesting to learn how we are able to shoot within the state," Mitchell said. "I thought it was great to be able to learn from the trainers, as well as my teammates and fellow competitors."

While the event was a learning experience for Mitchell, Iqbal said he was happy to help his teammate along the way.

"My plan is to come back as many times as I can and help train and guide others along the way," Iqbal said. "This event is a great asset because I can also take back the lessons I am taught here, and bring them back to my unit to help others."

Match non-commissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt. Edwin Garcia, who is also assigned to the Kentucky small arms readiness section, enjoys the esprit de corps that the event brings to the different military branches and teams.

"It is great to see competitors, new and old, get out there and shoot," Garcia said. "It is a great training aid for all of the participants. Every shooter is different, so there are different challenges each participant faces. This event gives them an opportunity to learn, while also increasing their accuracy as a shooter."

Kentucky's State Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden was in attendance and offered up words of encouragement to the troops as they began shooting.

"It's good training and good competition for our Soldiers and Airmen," Munden said. "One of the most important skills to have is to be able to fire your weapon accurately. This kind of competition adds to their knowledge and increases their skill level, while adding a little friendly competition amongst the ranks."

The Kentucky National Guard awards the "Governor's Twenty" tab to the top 20 participants in the competition. This year, four competitors received the highly prestigious award -- Sgt. 1st Class Edward Cole, Tech. Sgt. Jeff Stanley, Staff Sgt. Joel Campbell and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Joynt.

Team, Individual and Overall Awards were given for the Top 3 Pistol and Top 3 Rifle shooters.

For the individual awards: 1st Place Pistol was awarded to Staff Sgt. David Farc, 1st Place Rifle was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Borders, and Top Gun -- awarded to the top overall shooter -- was awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Eric Dean.

For the team awards: 1st Place Rifle was awarded to Air Guard B Team, which consisted of Senior Master Sgt. Darryl Loafman, Master Sgt. Tim Kenney, Master Sgt. Travis Keehner and Tech Sgt. Jeffrey Stanley. 1st Place Pistol and 1st Place Overall were awarded to Air Guard A Team, which consisted of Staff Sgt. Jacob Fuller, Staff Sgt. David Farc, Tech Sgt. Daniel Creed and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Larimore.