The US Army Reserve has been a dominate force in international marksmanship competition and the team continued its winning ways at this year’s Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting (AFSAM.) Hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Camp Robinson, Arkansas, AFSAM is an International shooting competition open to all NATO countries that began in 1991 with three countries and 49 participants. AFSAM 2010 consisted of 18 formal teams, with several more shooting for honors, and competitors hailing from seven countries. In addition to US Army Reserve and National Guard teams from the United States, shooters from Canada, Australia, England, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway competed in this year’s events.
USAR shooters started strong in the nine individual events, taking seven first places, five second places and five third places. In the overall individual rifle aggregate, USAR team members took gold for first place and four of the top ten places. In the individual pistol aggregate, USAR shooters took first through fourth and secured six of the top ten places..Most impressively off all, USAR team shooter MSG Lance Espinosa won first place overall in both rifle and pistol matches.
Team matches are the real focus of all major competition and Team Captain LTC Pasquale Sperlongano summed this up: “Individuals win matches but it takes a team to win a championship. A team that comes together, trains hard and becomes one entity can accomplish anything.”
Putting this philosophy to practice USAR teams took five first places, two second places, and four third places, earning trophies in nine of the ten AFSAM team events. This culminates with each country competing for the Lexington Green Trophy, a grand aggregate comprised of the International Service Rifle match and Close Quarter Battle match. The first is shot from 100 to 500 yards and ends with a run down, shooting at every yard line from 500 back to 100, which the USAR team finished with a 28 point lead. The Close Quarter Battle started with casualty evacuation and ammo resupply exercise, requiring teams to run with two litters each loaded with 150 pound “casualties” and sprint to the firing point with eight 30 pound ammo cans. Shooters then fire four stages of a close quarters battle course culminating with a CBRN drill shot in protective masks. Despite the physical demands the USAR team finished 93 points ahead of the next closest team, taking the Lexington Green Trophy and the overall AFSAM win.
“I am interested in competitive shooting. How can I get information on matches?”
Camp Robinson (Little Rock, AR)
MSG Lance Espinosa of Skandia, MI won the Lantagne Memorial Trophy at the Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting. This win was doubly important, for it not only cemented MSG Espinosa’s overall individual victory at this tournament, the earned trophy was named in honor SFC Brent Lantagne, a close, personal friend and fellow team mate.
Following his untimely death in 2008, SFC Brent Lantagne was forever memorialized with a trophy commissioned in his name by Lt. Col Pasquale Sperlongano, commanding officer of the United States Army Reserve Shooting Team. The Lantagne Memorial Trophy is an annual award presented at AFSAM, this year for the overall aggregate of Excellence In Competition events. MSG Espinosa, a top-ranking US Army Reserve team shooter, took first place in pistol overall and first place rifle overall.
AFSAM, now in its third decade, is an annual international competition held for shooters in allied militaries. All NATO countries recognize this event and send teams to participate. SFC Lantagne was a sought-after instructor at the NGMTU and a top flight marksman, having been a member of both National Guard and Army Reserve shooting teams competing there.
Shooting organizations have a long history of honoring noteworthy marksmen by establishing trophies in their name. At National and International-level competition top shooters and important contributors are recognized by their peers with trophies in their names awarded annually. Some of these have been presented continually since before World War One.
Lt. Col Pasquale Sperlongano commented at the award presentation, “Outstanding job! I know that our departed brother Brent Lantagne is as proud of you as we all are!”
The US Army Reserve International (Palma) Rifle Team had tremendous success this season with nine shooters on the ground. Individually, USAR Shooters qualified and won every shoot off for Palma rifle during long range portion of the Nationals. During long range in order to win a national trophy you first qualify by winning your relay (approx 90-100 shooters), then all the top four shoot shoulder to shoulder for the trophy with a large group of spectators watching the shooters. se to the top. SGT Eric Smith both his relays and then both shoot offs on the first day. The next day MAJ Dave Cloft qualified for and won the Edward D. Andrus Trophy, a large bronze statue by Remington depicting a “Scout”. The trophy was provided by the NRA Competitive Shooting Division, in memory of the previous Director, Edward D. Andrus. SFC Norm Anderson qualified for and won the Herb “Doc” Aitken trophy, an etched oval crystal supported by a walnut base depicting the Palma eagle surrounded by the Palma wreath. MAJ Cloft was third in the Aitken. SGT Smith also won the Sierra Trophy and MAJ Cloft finished second. The Sierra Trophy is a large granite trophy on a wooden base and was donated in 1999 by the Sierra Bullets Company to be used in the High Power Long Range National Championships. In the aggregate of the four days of Individual competition with the Palma Rifle SGT Smith was 4th overall, MAJ Cloft 5th overall.
Team Wins. A total of three team matches were fired and the USAR International (Palma) Team did well in all. The team won the Bausch and Lomb Trophy for the high Service Team in the Herrick Trophy match. In the final Palma Team match Team USAR set a new record. The match is fired with 15 shots at 800, 900 and 1000 yards for a max score per shooter of 450 points. SFC Anderson served double duty as shooter and SGM Neal Dickey served as Team Captain. The team shot a 1788-100X, MAJ Cloft had 449-29X, SGT Smith 448-24X, SFC Thuerer 446-24X and SFC Anderson 445-23X. MAJ Cloft and SGT Smith earned status in the NRA 448 Club for firing a score of 448 or greater on the Palma Course of fire.
Of the event Team OIC MAJ Dave Cloft said, “We dominated the Army Marksmanship Unit and all other services with the Palma Rifle. All shooters own their own rifles and hand loaded their own ammunition.”
Palma rifle competition is fired with a .308 rifle with metallic sights shot at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Palma is an international event and the USAR Team has three shooters on the US National Team Roster (Cloft, Anderson, Thuerer) hoping to make the 16-man squad for Australia in 2011. There are three events at the Long Range National Championships; any rifle (any caliber and scopes), Palma rifle and service rifle. The USAR International Team focuses on Palma Rifle because it’s the only international event of the three categories at Camp Perry.
An AAR from MAJ Cloft