FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Nearly 130 Soldiers competed at the Army Reserve Marksman Small Arms Championship August 27-30 during the 4-day event testing competitors and teams skill and endurance.
416th Theater Engineer Command achieved the high overall team score, high rifle and high pistol and included firing team members Sgt. 1st Class Martin Braden from Meridian, Idaho, who was the team leader, Sgt. John Halley from Winslow, Arkansas, who placed third overall, Sgt. Jared Henderson from Kuna, Idaho, and Sgt. Andrew Newlon from Springfield, Missouri, was first place (non-pro).
Soldiers competed individually with scores adding up for the four-person team score in pistol and rifle excellence competition matches.
Sgt. John Halley, a combat engineer with the 688th Engineer Company (Mobility Augmentation Company), Harrison, Arkansas, was selected to be a member of the team when a fellow team member saw he was interested to be part of the team.
“We have a wealth of knowledge on the team with shooters of ten years or more experience and wealth of knowledge. We each have a basic knowledge and are able to make on the spot corrections and improvement for the next stage of fire,” Halley added.
Expectations are high and everyone wants to win and see their team shoot solid across the board. Team building and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses builds camaraderie.
Sgt. Jared Henderson, a combat engineer with the 391st Engineer Company, Boise, Idaho, and a former Marine, said, “Shooting is a perishable skill and if units can integrate this in their training it’s a big opener,” he said, “Army Reserve unfortunately only fires once a year and if units could support more practice and support this exercise would vastly improve skill.”
“As part of an Amalgamated team, I’m thankful for the experience of each member,” Henderson added.
The team consisting of Army engineers was offered experience and has various levels of competition experience with one competing in the All Army Championship. They faced distance challenges and required commitment to practice, often separately, and learn from all the experienced team members.
“We all bring something to the table and we obviously want to win. I’m about to get out so I’d love to win and our team has the capability,” said Sgt. Andrew Newlon, a combat engineer also from the 688th Engineer Company, “Secondly, we want take back what we learn from this competition to the unit to improve basic marksmanship.”
Newlon has competed in five marksmanship competitions to include All Army in 2016 and 2017. This year he has a little extra encouragement to do well during this competition since he’s getting out of the Army Reserve to focus on his career as a real estate investor.
The team exerts a lot of time and energy over the four-day competition and experience.
“It’s a little hard to train, but we train on our own, and I know that they are putting as much effort as I do. It helps to keep in touch to discuss efforts,’ said Halley, “All the team members keep in contact and prepare on their own.”
“I’m very proud of the members of our team for their performance this past year. Their hard work has paid off. We would also like to thank the 416 TEC for their continued support which has led to our success,” said, Sgt. 1st Class Martin Braden, 688th Engineer Company (MAC).
“We’ve been firing together since last March. We train separately and coordinate. Camaraderie is brought about by a common task. We’re all here to do the same thing…that is shoot well and love the sport,” he added.
The 416th will have one opening on next year’s team as one member departs and makes room for another team member.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Darrin McDufford
416th Theater Engineer Command