The All-Army Small Arms Championships is an annual marksmanship competition that brings the best shooters in the US Army together to compete. The importance of this event has been acknowledged by top senior leadership. 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 US 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.” SGM Vidal Ybarra has described the event as “an advanced combat marksmanship training event and competition designed to raise the shooting proficiency of Soldiers and units across the Army by teaching advanced combat marksmanship techniques using issue rifles and pistols.”
This annual event, having been reinvigorated in 2004 by the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, brings out hundreds of Soldiers 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. To be fully competitive, a shooter had to be equally adept at PPC-style, precision pistol shooting, Designated Marksman and long range rifle/Across-The-Course shooting, close quarters carbine, practical speed shooting with both rifle and pistol, and cross-country running. All the courses are equally important, so a specialist can’t dominate one area and come out ahead. Plus, All Army requires being consistently good over a full week.
To win such an event even once is the mark of a superior shooter. To win it four times in a row is the hallmark of a dominating marksman. US Army Reserve Shooting Team Member MSG Russell Moore secured his fourth All Army victory. In doing so he was the top overall competitor in Rifle, Pistol and Combined Arms events, besting active duty and reserve component Soldiers, including Drill Sergeant cadre and those hailing from elite units at Fort Benning and beyond.
“After I returned from Iraq in 2005 I was approached on a firing range by now retired MSG James Dechert of the USAR International Combat Shooting Team,” says MSG Moore about his start in competitive shooting. “He ran me through some drills and thought I was worthy of trying out for the USAR team myself that fall. Well, I made it on the team and have been there ever since. This was really the start of serious competitive shooting for me. Before that it was recreational at best. The training, opportunities and resources I received from the Team really turned me on to getting committed. Once I was hooked I joined the US Army Reserve Small Arms Readiness Group and explored even more shooting, coaching and instructing avenues, including instructing full time at the Small Arms Instructor Academy. Since then I have shot in IDPA, USPSA, Steel Challenge and 3 Gun events in addition to my military shooting team responsibilities.”
Nearly all known 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, can serve as a substitute for unit annual training at the unit commander’s discretion and is an ideal vehicle for training small arms instructors. MSG Moore has spent a good portion of his military career as a small arms instructor, including being mobilized to the Small Arms Instructor Academy for several years. He currently serves in a leadership role for the SARG Detachment at Camp Bullis, TX.
When asked why he likes shooting, MSG Moore said, “Shooting is about the individual. You can’t blame a bad score on the goalie or another teammate. It’s an expression of a Soldier’s physical and mental skills, like many other sports, but the literal far-reaching aspect just keeps me in awe. The relevance to my role as a Soldier also adds to the appeal. Every Soldier a rifleman!”
The training benefit for all participants is unparalleled. Higher skilled participants are better instructors and the team format forces them to pass on good skills to other participants. Everyone leaves with more experience to take back to their home units.
In addition to his role in the SARG and on the Shooting Team, MSG Moore competes in 3 Gun shooting as a civilian. “Though I’ve been shooting as much on the civilian side as I can I have only recently started going to larger national level matches. My first official sponsor is Alamo Tactical in San Antonio. Chris and his store have been a great help in getting me started.”