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Story by: Staff Sgt. Dennis Gravelle - 369th Sustainment Brigade
Dated: Tue, Apr 20, 2010
Cortland Manor, N.Y.--The team from the 107th Airlift Wing’s Security Forces Squadron took the top prize in the combined arms category at the 31st Annual “TAG Match” shooting competition held at Camp Smith here April 16-18.
Approximately 150 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard, the New York Guard and the New York Naval Militia as well as representatives from other state National Guard units, participated. Soldiers and Airmen competed in pistol, rifle and combined arms events individual and team events in which participants scores with both the M-9 pistol and M-16/M-4 rifle were included. Rifle events included traditional competitive shooting at targets, close quarters battle rifle competition, and reflexive fire.
The TAG Match allows units and individual Soldiers and Airmen the opportunity to improve their level of marksmanship, engage in healthy competition, and pick top contenders to represent the state in national competitions.
The modern TAG Match allows participants to employ the weapons used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. “I am here at Camp Smith learning something that I can take back to my unit and to build camaraderie with other New York military forces and get everyone together as one team, one fight,” stated Master Sgt. Edward J. Stefik, 107th Security Forces, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and first-time participant. “I am having a good time and it’s a good experience and maybe I will win.”
Stefik, a State Police Officer in civilian life won the top place in the individual combined arms category which requires skill with both the M-9 pistol and the M-16 rifle.
Marksmanship training and competition has long been a key component of military training. The winners of this TAG Match claim bragging rights until next year’s competition and will receive a trophy to bring home to their unit to put on display. Winners also have the opportunity to represent their state at regional and national competitions.
Participants compete in the .22 Caliber Bullseye Pistol event, the 29th Annual The Adjutant General’s Combat Rifle, Pistol, and Light Machine Gun Championships and learn how to improve their shooting skills and take those lessons learned back to their units.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from deploying units is their lack of proficiency with individual weapons,” said Maj. Brian P. O’Keefe, Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, Joint Forces Headquarters, and state marksmanship coordinator. “There is no substitute for actual practice, real trigger time with live ammunition”.
O’Keefe added that they expected about 20 out-of-state participants, mostly from Connecticut and Rhode Island, to attend the TAG Match.
“When you look at mobilizations today, we (New York) often draw from other states to fulfill critical Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) and things we can’t fill, just as they do,” stated O’Keefe. “These are our brothers in arms, so there’s no way to say that people only from New York can shoot. We try to be inclusive, because you never know who that person on our left or right will be when we mobilize.”
As Soldiers and Airman sustain their skills on each individual weapon they use- and gain some proficiency, by coming here they know they are serious on the firing line and know that it’s all about fun off the line.
“This is a great opportunity to be here and compete against other Soldiers,” said Private First Class Tiffini J. Giraldo, 102nd Maintenance Company, Fort Drum, N.Y. “I love to hunt and fish, and I came here to fire, and do as well as I can, but most of all I am having fun and enjoying the competition.”
Winners in each category were: -- Close Quarters Battle Rifle: Staff Sgt. Ryan Mang ; 107th Security Forces Squadron -- Competition Rifle: Sgt. Paul Devito C Co. 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry -- Reflexive Fire: Sgt. John Lastella, 42nd Infantry Division Band -- Combat Service Pistol: Capt. Keith Grube, 88th Brigade New York Guard -- Competition Pistol: Capt. Keith Grube, 88th Brigade, New York Guard -- 22 Caliber Pistol, Master Sgt. Paul Cowan, 152nd Air Operations Group -- Combat Pistol Aggregate: Capt. Keith Grube, 88th Brigade, New York Guard -- Rifle Aggregate: Sgt Paul Devito, C Co. 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry -- Combat Pistol Team: 21st Engineers, New York Guard -- Rifle Team Match, 174th Fighter Wing -- Combined Arms, Individual: Master Sgt. Edward Stefik, 107th Security Forces Squadron -- Combined Arms, Team: 107th Security Forces Squadron