Story and photos by Spc. Hector Corea, 366th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
HUTCHINSON, Kansas – No matter what job specialty, assignment or mission, each and every soldier in the Army Reserves may one day be placed in a position to fire a weapon in a combat zone.
This is why marksmanship is regarded as one of the most important Soldier skills, for pulling the trigger can be the difference between life and death when conducting wartime operations.
Taking this into account, the U.S. Army Reserve Marksmanship Unit seeks the highest quality shooters the Army Reserve has to offer.
The team is composed of various individuals, all with different backgrounds, experiences and specialties.
Capt. Samuel K. Freeman, a Hendersonville, N.C. native, has been a member of the team for more than eight years and has shot competitively since his childhood.
“Shooting is my discipline,” said Freeman. “It’s a passion I’ve held for a long time.”
One important mission of USAR Marksmanship Team involves representing the Army Reserve in various shooting competitions held around the country, including the National Rifle and Pistol Championships held at Camp Perry, Ohio.
“Organized shooting is a proven, objective approach for sorting out your best talent,” said Sgt. 1st Class John M. Buol, an Army Reserve career counselor with the 3rd Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division, and pistol shooter with the USAR shooting team. “We compete to retain our proficiencies and to proudly represent the Army Reserves.”
The team and its members have competed and won various competitions in 2012; Freeman won the Inter-service Long Range Rifle competition and overall Long Range Service Rifle category at the Camp Perry National Rifle Championships.
In addition, the USAR Service Pistol Team beat all other military units and placed second behind only the active duty Army Marksmanship Unit at the Service Pistol National Competition in Camp Perry, Ohio.
The team does more than represent the Army Reserve in shooting competitions however. The USAR Marksmanship Team is also tasked with providing expert instructions on proper firing techniques for Army Reservists located around the country.
“We attempt to give proficient instruction for Soldiers and expose them to the skills necessary for firing precisely with their weapons,” said Freeman.
The team recently attended a Marksmanship Proficiency Training Exercise held by the 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Hutchinson, Kan., Nov. 11-16, 2012.
This gave them the opportunity to supervise fellow Army Reserve Soldiers and help them hone their marksmanship skills to fire from distances of up to 600 meters.
Soldiers were more than willing to receive such training and felt thankful for the opportunity, said Lt. Col. Christopher Baer, assistant operations officer for the 451st ESC.
“The [U.S. Army Reserve Marksmanship] cadre are so professional,” said Staff Sgt. Jose R. Garcia, noncommissioned officer in charge of training with the 387th Human Resource Company. “Their instruction really helped improve our shooting.”
While the unit takes pleasure in competing and winning marksmanship competitions, they find even greater pleasure in mentoring fellow Soldiers.
“I enjoy giving my experience to other Soldiers and showing them the proper techniques,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan P. Rosene, a Platoon Sgt. attached to the 443rd Heavy Equipment Transportation Company and pistol service shooter with the USAR Marksmanship Unit. “I also love the camaraderie.”
The transfer of experience greatly impacts the Soldiers themselves and as a result, their units, said Baer.
“These essential marksmanship skills are something every Soldier should know,” said Freeman. “Our mission here is to give as much instruction as possible to reach the greatest amount of Soldiers so that they retain these skills and benefit their respective units.”
Looking forward, the U.S. Army Reserve Marksmanship Team will continue to compete in shooting competitions and mentor fellow reservists at every opportunity.
“We validate [marksmanship] training via organized marksmanship competition,” said Buol. “The end goal of the USAR Marksmanship Program is to enhance readiness across the force through increasing marksmanship proficiencies.”