My heart racing and gear bouncing in stride as I rounded the last corner, I saw the forward line of troops maneuvering to get on line. To our front lay the objective we would soon be engaging. Silhouettes appeared and we rushed to firing points. Dozens of M16s pounded away, spewing out a good portion of a magazine until all targets went down. Preparing to bound again, I rechecked conditions to ensure my next volley would be just as accurate. I had been shooting for days and couldn’t afford to slip up now.
The Audie Murphy, combining a forced march with battle kit and a run-down shooting match from varying distances was but one of a list of challenges facing the soldier-marksmen at All Army 2010. This annual event, now in its seventh year, brought nearly 300 shooters to Fort Benning and is open to all Army personnel; active, reserve and National Guard. The benefits of such events to small arms training and understanding are huge. Nearly all marksmanship skill and knowledge was created via organized competitive shooting. The US Army’s first marksmanship manual was developed and written by competition shooters. Army Regulation 350-66 states that all organized competitions are classified as training, which can serve as a substitute for unit annual training at the unit commander’s discretion and are an ideal vehicle for training small arms instructors. Despite this pedigree, shooting events are too often undermined by the uninformed and are one of the first subjected to budget cuts. Thankfully, events like All Army are among the few bastions of hope invigorating programs and keeping them alive.
The original concept of military matches was to offer venues to test the skills of shooters beyond the novice levels found in normal qualifications starting at the unit and post levels, up through the MACOMS (Major Commands) and culminating in a force-wide event, thus, All Army. Over the years knowledge waned and participation dwindled until the matches went away completely in the 1990’s. Over a decade later, while under the command of LTC David J. Liwanag, the Army Marksmanship Unit reinstituted the All Army matches in 2004.
The leadership involved echoes the need for such events — LTG Anthony R. Jones noted that, “Being able to shoot, being a marksman is what being a soldier is all about.” LTG Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of U.S. Army Accessions Command said, “Today more than ever soldiers need to be lethal and that’s what this competition is all about. Marksmanship is a fundamental skill and a core competency that every soldier needs to be lethal. I encourage all of you to go back to your units and encourage and teach marksmanship.” SGM Vidal Ybarra concurs, adding, “All-Army is an advanced combat marksmanship training event and competition and is designed to raise the shooting proficiency of soldiers and units across the Army by teaching advanced combat marksmanship techniques using issue rifles and pistols.”
My heart racing and gear bouncing in stride as I rounded the last corner,…
by Fred Pushies / Aug 1, 2010