Making the Team

by SFC John Hawes

One of the most common questions I get as a member of the US Army Reserve Shooting Team, is how they, or others they know, can become a member of the team? The USAR Shooting Team is under the umbrella of the USAR Competitive Marksmanship Program, and is actually comprised of several different teams that compete or instruct in many shooting disciplines. The primary teams are the Service Rifle Team, Service Pistol Team, Service Conditions (Combat) Team, and the Mobile Training Team, but it’s all commonly known as the Reserve Shooting Team to many people. In my role as a Career Counselor for USAR Soldiers, I brief Soldiers on the many opportunities they have available to them, to include the Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program. Other Career Counselors or interested Soldiers ask me frequently how they can get on the team. Being a member of the shooting team sounds great (and is!), especially for any Soldier who enjoys shooting firearms, the chance to get paid and be issued equipment to shoot competitions is very appealing. There are two routes one can take to earning a spot on the team. You can apply directly to be a member of the team if you are already an accomplished competitive shooter. Or you can impress the team with your shooting ability at a match and catch their eye and interest and be invited to the team. Either route requires you to be a good shot.

How good of a shot do you need to be? Preferably you need to hold at least an Expert or Master rating in one of the shooting disciplines, most commonly Service Rifle (NRA/CMP High Power) or Service Pistol Bullseye Pistol, or have already earned EIC points or a Distinguished Rifle or Pistol Badge or have been President’s 100.*** Simply having shot Expert on a US Army qualification course and enjoying shooting as a casual hobby won’t make the cut. If you don’t know what EIC points, Distinguished badges, or the President’s Hundred is, I would recommend you doing some homework and researching them and the disciplines they involve before contacting the team as well. The team also supports shooters in many other disciplines to include 3-Gun, PRS, action/practical shooting, and shotgun shooting events.

The majority (but not all) of team members were accomplished shooters prior to joining the team. Whether as members of other active-duty teams (we have several former Army Marksmanship Unit or Marine Corps Shooting Team members in our ranks), our roster also includes Olympians, we have junior shooters who excelled in competitive shooting that joined the USAR, and finally we have passionate shooters who have invested their own time and money into the shooting sports and developed a high level of skill in doing so. Not every shooter on the team is an accomplished high level shooter. The team has some limited slots for developmental shooters; shooters who have the passion and discipline to shoot competitively and possess the potential to improve and become a high level shooter.

As a member of the team, you may get issued some limited equipment, ammo, and have your travel and registration fees covered, and be paid to shoot and represent the USAR in competitive shooting events from the local, to national, and even international levels. But you certainly won’t get issued everything you need to compete, nor have all of your shooting funded. You must invest time and money in the sport and equipment yourself. Many team shooters start out using personal equipment and must wait to be issued anything. The team’s limited budget will generally only fund you to attend a few large competitions a year, the National Championships and Interservice matches, being the most common. But the skill needed to earn and keep a spot on the team and be competitive at the large matches will require you to be practicing and competing on your own on a regular basis. Many interested Soldiers don’t understand this or want to make that personal investment.

The requirements to make the team are generally high because, and this is another thing many interested Soldiers not affiliated with the competitive shooting sports understand is, the team is a professional team and recognized worldwide as such. Among the primary disciplines such as Service Rifle, Bullseye Pistol, and Combat Match shooting, the team has set individual and team records at the highest levels of the sport and is considered to be one of the few teams at the pinnacle of their disciplines. Among the shooting sports, being a member of the USAR Shooting Team is the equivalent to playing on any professional sports team in its respective major league.

Another way you can end up as a member of the team is to shoot well at US Army run and sanctioned shooting matches, from local unit level matches to Army wide events such as the US Army Small Arms Championship held once a year at Fort Benning, GA. A few members of the Reserve Shooting Team are usually in attendance at the various Army run shooting matches, and if you attend one and shoot well, you may very well catch their eye and be invited to the team. You will certainly find Reserve Team members at various civilian competitions as well and a consistent high level of performance in them will catch the eye of the team as well. If you see a member of the team at a match, usually identified by a tan or OCP baseball cap with USAR on the front, make sure to introduce yourself.

A unique thing about the USAR Shooting Team, is that it is not its own unit or MOS. All of the members of the team belong to a regular Reserve unit and hold a MOS that they are expected to perform. The members of the team can be found throughout the entire country, working as Civil Affairs, PSYOPS, cooks, mechanics, and Career Counselors to name just a few; and hold ranks from Private to Sergeant Major and even a few Officers. The shooting team can be considered an additional duty, and you are expected to put your assigned unit and primary MOS’s needs first. This has the benefit of providing true Subject Matter Experts on marksmanship to the units at the ground level, where we can best share our knowledge with our fellow Soldiers and improve the force as a whole.

It would be encouraged for an aspiring member of the shooting team to seek out one of the current team members as a mentor and learn from them and accompany them to matches. I did this myself for a Soldier and allowed him to travel with me to matches, stay with me, and shared gear and ammo with him. Over the years he improved greatly and earned a spot on the team himself. The team is full of passionate shooters who want to see others improve and represent the USAR proudly in the shooting sports.

In order to learn more or apply to the team, you can contact us through the team’s official website at or Facebook page at Provide a short bio of yourself that includes current shooting Classifications and achievements. The team’s primary focus is on training and improving marksmanship throughout the USAR and if you are a current serving Soldier you will be expected to try and host postal competitions at your units and actively try to improve your unit’s marksmanship and encourage competition.

***Editor’s Note: A specific shooting skill Classification level is not necessarily required for consideration to join the Team, however, Level 3 or higher from a relevant national shooting organization is a good base. Demonstration of promoting shooting to other Soldiers, such as by hosting a Postal Match or EIC, is also important. The critical thing is proven action and ready access to local marksmanship facilities to continue developing skills.

Maj. Urick at NRL Match

2021 National Rifle League Hunter, Buffalo Bill’s Revenge Precision Rifle Match:
DTG: 23-25 April, 2021 Laramie Wyoming

Match Overview:
120 competitors participated to test their skills in the Wyoming springtime conditions during a precision rifle event which mimicked hunting scenarios for various big and small game found throughout the West. At an elevation of 7400’ above sea level with winds gusting over 30+ mph, the match location was a true test of shooter abilities and equipment. Unlike most Precision Rifle matches, stages were “blind” where as each shooter had no preview of the 19 stages and had to locate, correctly range and engage multiple targets out to 800+ yds. The difficulty level of this style match is extreme, targets often small and hidden within the natural terrain, difficult shooting positions using natural terrain, and a 4 minute stage time limit is a true test of a shooter’s abilities. There were a total of 152 possible points to shoot a clean match. Average overall score for this match was a 79. The overall top score was 134 points.
MAJ Grant Urick, took 1st Place in the Light Open division (rifle, optic, and attachments must weigh under 12 lbs) and tied for 1st overall with 134 out of a possible 152 points. This style of rifle match tested the true potential of a well rounded marksman in tough field conditions.


Placed 1st Overall and 1st Place in Light Open Division
Qualified to attend National Rifle League Hunter Finale in Grande Junction, CO (AUG 2-8, 2021)
Represents the USARCMP Combat Team while competing in Precision Rifle matches
Use lessons learned for civilian marksmanship competitions to increase unit readiness and lethality

Event Outputs:
The largest NRL Hunter match of the year, this event built upon knowledge of equipment use and fundamentals. The NRL Hunter matches are designed to keep shooters outside their comfort zone and forces them to manage their time, equipment, marksmanship abilities, and target locating skills unlike any Precision Rifle competition. Lessons from civilian marksmanship competitions and the 2021 US Army Small Arms Competition will allow MAJ Urick to lead marksmanship instruction at his unit to improve upon unit readiness and marksmanship.

Postal Match Questions

Hi there, I’m a Reservist and I just recently discovered the USARCMP via Facebook. I really enjoy shooting on my own and I am a range/shooting SME at my unit. I would be really happy to get involved with your Program. I’m looking at the Course of Fire Book on your website and the video about how to get started but I’m not understanding the Postal Match section.

In the video and the “Retention via Readiness” document it states that the Postal Match can be conducted during a regular qualification with my unit. On the “Postal Match” document it lists a series of different courses of fire named after people (e.g. Margaret Thompson Murdock) with instructions on how to complete them. My unit is qualifying soon on the “new” course of fire. Do I send the results of my qual, do I shoot the courses named after people, which ones, etc etc are my questions. There is no range given for the Postal Matches named after people, and how are the results authenticated? If you have a more preferred communication method I will be happy to use it, but I sent the message on FB because this is how I found you guys. Thank you for your time and I hope this is the start of something really great.
– A Motivated Army Reserve Soldier

Thanks for setting this up for your unit!

In the “Retention via readiness” document it states that the Postal Match can be conducted during a regular qualification with my unit. On the “Postal Match” document it lists a series of different courses of fire named after people (e.g. Margaret Thompson Murdock) with instructions on how to complete them. My unit is qualifying soon on the “new” course of fire.

Use whatever ones you like. There are a number of Postal Match courses to accommodate what ranges and targets you are already using during your unit qualification. The current qualification (Table VI) is one of the courses, just submit the first attempt results.

There is no range given for the Postal Matches named after people

The rifle courses (Murdock, Sutton, Mott) are conducted at 25 meters. Bivins is at 10 meters, same as the 3-20.40 pistol Validation exercise.

how are the results authenticated?

Submit the results to the USAR Marksmanship Public Affairs. We tally the results.

Thank you for that clarification, I appreciate it. Can you tell me if I’m correctly understanding the difference between the Reserve Competitive Marksmanship Program vs Team? That the Program is anyone who is participating, I.e. holding postal matches, sending in rifle qual results, participating in something like an Army EIC match, and the Team is invite-only once you have essentially qualified yourself? I enjoy shooting, I consistently score expert at both my Reserve qual and my work qualifications (I’m a security guard at a nuclear power plant, we have 6 courses of fire for overall qualification) but I am far from open competition level. However I am interested in the Army EIC events. More on that later…

For now, how can I best prepare to bring USARCMP and my unit together for mutual benefit in regards to our upcoming qual? I will be the Table II EST2000 range NCO which will put me in a position to gather information throughout the event. I don’t know if just my CO or if I am running it for my whole BN. But that is a lot of Soldiers if you want to give me specific questions to ask them in the AAR which I will return to you. During zero and qualification I will be coaching as normal and I can also use that time to gather questions specifically from the Soldiers who are having the most problems. If you can send that in a word or pdf to me I will have it back before June (our AT dates are May 4 – 24)

That the Program is anyone who is participating, I.e. holding postal matches, sending in rifle qual results, participating in something like an Army EIC match, and the Team is invite-only once you have essentially qualified yourself?

Yes. Everyone in the Army Reserve can participate in events, host Postal Match, etc. Rostered Team members conduct Mobile Training Team classes for other Soldiers and attend competitions representing the Army Reserve.

I will be the Table II EST2000 range NCO which will put me in a position to gather information throughout the event.

There is no requirement for your entire unit to participate, though they certainly can if they want. A unit-level event can include only those Soldiers interested to try.

I enjoy shooting…

What competition shooting do you currently compete in and what Classifications and Leg points have you earned?

Areas of focus:
CMP/NRA High Power
CMP/NRA Precision Pistol

If you can send that in a word or pdf

Chief Knote: On Observation

Dear Warrior,
I was at your Best Warrior train up/selection range last week and I observed you do something that I felt was worth commenting on.

You had a Failure to Fire. I observed you smash the magazine violently into the magazine well with 3 good strikes. I observed you retract the charging handle like you were trying to RIP the handle off. In the process, likely out of muscle memory you locked the bolt to the rear and slammed the charging handle back forward. Remember this later. From my vantage point, I did not observe an ejection. I did observe you briefly flip the rifle sideways and cock your head in the general direction of the ejection port, at which point you slapped the bolt release, desperately smashed the forward assist, pointed the rifle in the general direction of the target, and ripped back on the trigger like an artillery piece…
And, nothing happened.

You, my Warrior, failed to Observe. You failed to observe the indicators of failure in the cycle of operation.
In this case, your first clue being the failed ejection. Apparently, you did not observe the lack of ejection, so, where is it? Is it still in the chamber? Is there even any ammunition in the magazine?

Failure to observe a failed Ejection will likely result in a failure to Feed, and definitely a failure to Lock. Failure to observe a failed Extraction will only devolve into an assortment of problems. If the magazine still contains cartridges, the bolt carrier will attempt to Feed another round into a chamber currently occupied. If you are lucky, it will end up tip up and simply halt, hopefully calling attention to itself and its buddy still stuck in your chamber.

Remember the point earlier about the bolt locked to the rear? With the bolt back and the charging handle forward you’ve created the opportunity for the cartridge to hop up and get caught tail up, in the underside of the charging handle and just atop the bolt lugs. Congratulations you’ve just given yourself a bolt override… easy enough to fix as long as you don’t panic, use a “something” like a sturdy pen, inserted through the ejection port, against the bolt face to move the BCG to the rear without pulling on the charging handle.

If you did observe the failed Extraction, you will need to recognize that you are done with immediate action, and now must execute remedial action.

You need to understand the cycle of operation, and you need to be observant during the Observe step of Immediate Action. Failure to observe which stage within the cycle of operation has failed will lead to more problems.
In your case, my Warrior, your bolt had not locked to the rear on an empty magazine. You were out of rounds. Fortunately for you, you had completed your qualification table.

Yours Sincerely,
Chief Knote
“Kan du alltid slå merke til deg (May you always hit your mark)”

Enhanced Training Using Local Marksmanship Programs

Available to improve training for all units in the Army Reserve, local, inexpensive marksmanship events enhance Soldier readiness.


Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosendorn (3-335th TSBn) used a series of local, inexpensive marksmanship events to create several unit shooting teams and develop a cadre of well-trained Soldiers. All units of the Army Reserve can benefit by using the same programs and approach he used.

Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn started by creating a small unit shooting team with members of his current unit, 3-335th TSBn “Blackhawk” (85th Reserve Support Command). “At first, unit leadership wasn’t sure how much to support competition shooting or what value it would return to the unit,” Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn said. “I started slow, using inexpensive options for internal training. I set up Postal Match events using a Engagement Skills Trainer and at a local civilian range after duty hours to develop initial interest. The Soldiers could see they were improving much more than with just shooting routine qualification.”

Sgt. 1st Class  Rosendorn submited After Action Reports and information about these efforts to Public Affairs, making Army Reserve News, which created more interest. This led to unit leadership agreeing to send Soldiers to an away game, with Rosendorn leading and coaching a unit team consisting of MAJ David Zizkovsky, MAJ Jeremy Crochiere, 1st Sgt James Salm, 1st Sgt. Cody Brunet, and SFC Rosendorn to the 2020 All Army Small Arms Championship. They secured High Reserve honors for individual and team awards there.

Fast forward to this past March and the 2021 All Army Small Arms Championship.  With his command’s continued support, SFC Rosendorn and 1st Sgt. Brunet returned to take a team that included Staff Sgts. Paul Prado, Joel Eisen and Shantel Belot.  “This year was more about expanding the program to allow some of our Soldiers with less exposure to marksmanship events experience the benefits to be gained from competitive events” said SFC Rosendorn.

“Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn approached myself and a few others asking if there was any interest in competition shooting. Everyone but myself raised their hands, and were talking about how great a shot they were. He then asked me why I didn’t want to go. I explained that I would love to go, but I’m no great shot, but I’m always willing to learn and gain experience,” said Staff Sgt. Shantel Belot. “Practicing with the team, receiving good coaching, and attending the competition, I learned a lot and will take everything I learned and not only apply it to my own skills and abilities but also future soldiers that I may have to mentor or lead. This experience was not just a competition to me, but a great training opportunity where I was able to gain knowledge from the hundreds of other competitors always willing to give advice and  constructive criticism.”

Staff Sgt. Paul Prado had a similar experience. “I’ve been an EST instructor and thought I could shoot pretty well. Competition shooting helped me to understand that I have a lot to learn. I highly recommend these events to help run ranges and cause a major impact for the Soldiers that we will be training.”

“I am a long-time shooter but new to formal competition,” Staff Sgt. SSG Joel Eisen said. “Having the opportunity to look at my capabilities in shooting competition has been a humbling experience. The biggest take away for me is the confirmation that the fundamentals always matter, and your never done learning. Participation in events like this highlight the importance of competition, no matter your skill level going into a match, no matter how you do in that event, all shooters will walk away better and more capable than they started. I am excited to be able to bring my knowledge back to my unit and spread the capability.”

In addition to two 3-335th TSBn team, Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn also started working with Soldiers in the 16th POB (USACAPOC). The two units trained together as a lead up to the event, with Sgt. 1st Class Rosendorn providing mentorship and coaching to both teams. 16th POB sent Cpt. Greg Jankowski, Cpt. Desmond Anderson, and Staff Sgt. Colton Nichols along with the 3-335th TSBn team.

“I had my team shooters write up their experience and what they learned by preparing for the event,” Rosendorn said. “Both units and our higher command leadership have seen the results and are expecting good follow up with our pending record small arms qualification. Despite shooting these new standards and qualifications for the first time, these better-trained shooters will be able provide improved instruction, coaching, and classes for the rest of our units.”

Soldiers and units wishing to benefit from local, inexpensive Army Reserve marksmanship programs should visit and download the resources, course of fire book, and newsletters.