AZ Guard’s top marksmen become 2016’s governor’s dozen

  • Published
  • By Sgt. Wesley Parrell
  • Arizona National Guard Public Affairs
The Arizona Army National Guard's Small Arms Training Branch hosted the Adjutant General's shooting competition at the Florence Military Reservation, Apr. 7-10.

This four day, eight event shooting competition featured 67 Guardsmen from the Arizona Army and Air National Guard. The top 12 shooters were awarded the Governor's Dozen tab and have the opportunity to compete at the regional and national levels. The top teams in each stage were also awarded team trophies.

"The TAG Match is a 4-day event that is designed to bring service members of all shooting skill levels to develop their weapon prophecy and marksmanship," said 1st Lt. Victor Bartels, match director. "Although this is a competitive match, it promotes cohesion and pushes the competitors to perform at their very best."

The shooting competition is designed to give participants the opportunity to experience battle-focused training and gain advanced skills that can be applied in real-world situations. The stages have been designed to test a shooter's skills in different shooting situations using the M9 pistol, the M249 machine gun, and the M16/M4 rifles.

Although this event is focused on weapons and shooting, competitors in this event come from a wide range of military career positions, not just combat focused roles.

"In a competition like today, you have members from all across the Arizona National Guard," said Lt. Col. William Waddington, commander or the Arizona Army National Guard's recruiting and retention battalion. "We have cooks, band members, recruiters, infantrymen, military policemen, and equipment maintainers all coming together and representing their units. A person who is going to do well in this event, regardless of military background, needs to have patience, self-confidence, and just be willing to come out a try your best."

Of the 17 teams competing, the Arizona Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion were the overall team winners for the second year in a row. The top individual winner, also for the second year in a row, was Master Sgt. Scott Erickson of the 161st Air Refueling Wing.

"Although this is a competition, at the end of the day it is all in good fun," Bartels said. "Shooters who participate in this event are not just shooting at targets down range, they are demonstrating the fundamentals needed to hit the target, and understanding how to make the adjustments to hit the target. This makes our service members not only successful here, but on the battlefield as well."

The top finishers of this event will represent the Arizona National Guard in the Winston P. Wilson National Competition at the Marksmanship Training Center in Arkansas later this month.

2016 Governor's Dozen:

Ranking Rank Last Name First Name Unit

Top Honors CSM Salazar John Recruiting and Retention
1 MSgt Erickson Scott 161 Air Refueling Wing
2 SGT Garcia Andrew 860 Military Police Co
3 SSgt Milhoan John 161 Air Refueling Wing
4 SSG Sokol Nathan Recruiting and Retention
5 SGT Zappia Gino HHC 1/158 Infantry
6 SSG Caviness Dennis 856 Military Police Co
7 SPC Gonzales Nicholas 1404th Transportation
8 MSG Buchmann Travis Recruiting and Retention
9 SFC Wegeman Lawrence Regional Training Institute
10 LTC Waddington William Recruiting and Retention
11 SSG Mason Benjamin 860 Military Police Co
12 SGT Careaga Pedro C 1/158 Infantry

The 161st Air Refueling Wing's team won the following awards:

1st Place - Rifle Excellence in Competition
2nd Place - Obstacle Course Fun Shoot
2nd Place - Squad Designated Marksman
2nd Place - 10M POW Machine Gun
3rd Place - The McKendry Match
2nd Place - Team Aggregate