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Wing marksmen dominate state, regional competitions

Kentucky Air Guard marksmen continue a long-standing tradition of out-shooting their citizen-Soldier counterparts in state, regional and national competitions. (Photo courtesy of Kentucky Air National Guard Marksmanship Team)

Kentucky Air Guard marksmen continue a long-standing tradition of out-shooting their citizen-Soldier counterparts in state, regional and national competitions. (Photo courtesy of Kentucky Air National Guard Marksmanship Team)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Marksmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing were recognized recently for nearly sweeping the 2008 Kentucky State Pistol and Rifle Championship at Fort Knox, Ky.

The performance continued the wing's streak of placing in every individual category -- and usually winning -- during competition against Kentucky Army National Guard shooters from across the state.

Airmen placed first in every category of the competition for individuals this year, and were subsequently named overall team rifle and team pistol champions.

"We have been shooting so long, we could do this in our sleep," said Master Sgt. John Martin, the pistol team captain. "This team has won virtually every (state) category for the last five years."

An all-Kentucky state team comprised of three of the Wing's top shooters and one Soldier won first place at the regional competition for Team Rifle.

One of those squad members, Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert, captain of the rifle team, went on to win the regional-level competition.

From there, he was invited to compete in the National Guard and Reserve Winston P. Wilson Combat Match in North Little Rock, Ark., where he placed third nationally.

According to Sergeant Siebert, the level playing field of military competition made the wing's accomplishments even more noteworthy.

"At these competitions everyone has the same rifle and the same ammo," Sergeant Siebert said. "You don't win by having better equipment like (you do) in civilian matches. Here, the better marksman will always win."

Sergeant Martin credits the team's dynasty of success with each member's commitment to individual practice.

Members of the marksmanship team prepare year 'round by competing in civilian matches such as the Camp Perry National Matches and the Kentucky State High Power Rifle and Long Range Championships, where they also have been very successful.

While he has been shooting competitively for around 10 years, Sergeant Martin said team members rotate regularly.

"No matter how well we do, we're always looking for good shooters who are interested in being a part of the team," he said. "We're always looking for motivated individuals who love to compete."

Members of the team have won other prestigious awards, too, including the Excellence in Competition Badge, a little-known honor that is given a number based on the amount of shooters who have earned it. So far, that number hovers at just 368.

Two of its recipients -- Sergeant Martin and Master Sgt. Darryl Loafman -- recently received the badge for excellence in pistol competition.

"Marksmen have to earn a total of 30 points (to be awarded the badge)," explained Sergeant Siebert.

"These points are awarded at the competitions where ... you have to place in the top 10 percent of the field. The size of the match effects how many points you can earn at a time, so it is definitely an award you have to work hard to earn," he said.

For information on joining the squad, contact any team member.


AWARDS:

State Individual Rifle: First place to Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert; second place to Staff Sgt. Norm Rechel; third place to Master Sgt. Darryl Loafman.

State Team Rifle: First place to the Air Guard (Sergeant Siebert, Master Sgt. Travis Keehner, Sergeant Loafman and Staff Sgt. Norm Rechel)

State Individual Pistol: First place to Sergeant Loafman; second place to Master Sgt. John Martin; third place to Sergeant Siebert.

State Team Pistol: First place to the Air Guard (Sergeant Loafman, Sergeant Martin, Sergeant Keehner and Sergeant Rechel); second place to the Air Guard (Lt. Col. Steve May, Lt. Col. David Seaver, Sergeant Siebert and Master Sgt. Dave Selby)

State Novice Award: First place to Colonel May; second place to Lt. Col. Todd Francis.

Regional Individual Rifle: First place to Sergeant Siebert.

Regional Team Rifle: First place to the Kentucky Guard (Sergeant Siebert, Sergeant Keehner, Sergeant Rechel and Army Staff Sgt. Greg Scott)

Winston P. Wilson National Rifle: Third place to Sergeant John Siebert.