South Dakota National Guard members compete in marksmanship competition

  • Published
  • By Maj. Amy Rittberger
  • 114th Fighter Wing

80 members of the South Dakota National Guard tested their marksmanship skills in a competition May 18-20, 2018 at Camp Rapid, S.D.


The State Command Sergeant Major’s Outdoor Match was designed to identify the best combat marksmen in the state, with the top 20 percent of shooters earning the Governor’s Twenty Tab. It was not an invitational match, meaning any South Dakota National Guard member could compete.


This weekend’s marksmen competed with both the M-16 rifle and the M-9 pistol. The competition consisted of numerous targets and a limited amount of time to shoot a specific amount of ammunition at each target. 


Senior Airman Elizabeth Scott, 114th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loader, competes in civilian marksmanship competitions in her spare time. This match was her first military competition, and she says it’s a very different environment than what she’s used to.


“This is my first military competition,” said Scott. “I’m very excited, but a little bit nervous because I know this is a different style. It’s a lot faster pace [and] you [only] get seconds to shoot off rounds. It’s a lot to get used to.”


The pressure of the fast-paced environment, mixed in with some healthy competition is just one of the appealing parts of these matches. It’s a challenge the marksmen enjoy.


“Competition breeds excellence,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Wajer, 114th Security Forces combat arms instructor. “It’s a perishable skill, so the more you shoot the better you’ll be and the more you’ll do it instinctively.”


“The most challenging part overall is staying focused and moving past your mistakes, said  Specialist T.J. Carpenter, 139th Brigade Support Battalion religious affairs specialist. “You’re [going to make] mistakes no matter what, and you can’t let those get in your head.”


Following this weekend’s match, which is the start of the year-long season, top individuals are invited to shoot on the state marksmanship team. The team will compete at the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 6 Match at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., as well as the Winston P. Wilson National Combat Match at Camp Robinson, Ark.


Following the national match, a select number of individuals will be invited to shoot on the All Guard Team, competing against all other Department of Defense agencies.


In just his second year of competition, Carpenter has already made a name for himself in the marksmanship world. He was invited to and competed in the Marksmanship Advisory Council 6 Match at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., as well as the Winston P. Wilson National Combat Match at Camp Robinson, Ark. 


Carpenter took home awards for the best overall novice shooter in both the pistol and rifle competitions at Camp Robinson. He was also awarded the Chief’s 50 Badge, which is presented on behalf of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to the National Guard’s top 50 marksmen.


“The training events are very well put together,” said Carpenter. “South Dakota [Small Arms Readiness Training Section] is a very good program; they have some very experienced people in the program. I attribute a lot of my success to being mentored by them and given advice.”


Competitors at this weekend’s match were able to choose one of three days to compete.  Members of the 114th Fighter Wing team included; Maj. Justin Aylward, Master Sgt. Derrick Burkhart, Master Sgt. Jeremy Wajer, Master Sgt. Daniel Ruesch, Staff Sgt. Adam Witte, Staff Sgt. Trevor Dietrich, and Senior Airman Elizabeth Scott.


As the results were tabulated, the 114th Fighter Wing came out on top winning the overall Team Championship and had three members place in the top four shooters with the combat rifle and pistol aggregate scores.  SSgt Adam Witte led the team by winning first place in Combat Rifle and Overall Aggregate scores.  Congratulations to all the shooters.