NH shooters earn coveted 'Chief's 50'

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Charles Johnston

Two New Hampshire Guardsmen finished in the top 10 at the 52nd Annual Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championships held in North Little Rock, Arkansas from April 29 to May 5.
Sgt. 1st Class David Musso, a soldier with 3643d Brigade Support Battalion, and Tech. Sgt. Connor Cunio, an airman with 157th Air Refueling Wing, finished eighth and 10th, respectively, out of 247 competitors from around the world.
Both earned the “Chief’s 50” shooting badge, presented to the top 22 rifle and pistol shooters at this year’s match.
“This is a huge accomplishment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Wyner, team captain and state marksmanship coordinator. “They performed better than the vast majority of the best shooters from the Army, Air and across the nation.”
Cunio placed fourth in rifle, buoyed by impressive shooting at distances up to 600 yards. Musso demonstrated more all-around skill. He finished ninth in pistol and 22nd rifle, earning badges for both weapons.
“I am completely humbled and honored,” Musso said. “It’s something I will never forget.”

In the award’s 52-year history, the Chief’s 50 pantheon now comprises just eight New Hampshire guardsmen. Cunio is the lone airman.
Team New Hampshire, which included an Alpha and Bravo squad each consisting of four shooters, was precluded from comparable achievement. An unforeseen rules interpretation by match officials split the Granite State’s top guns between the two squads, forcing Musso and Cunio to compete separately.
The snafu also diluted other state teams. But the shake-up especially stung for a New Hampshire group on the rise since last month’s third-place finish at the “All Army” match in Fort Benning, Georgia.
“There was a lot of confusion this year regarding the individual classifications,” Wyner said. “The decision to require us to shoot a different Alpha Team cost us drastically this year.”
Led with strong performances by Wyner and Musso, Alpha Team still finished a respectable 17th out of 58 teams. And though secondary squads aren’t officially ranked, Bravo Team, led by Cunio and Capt. Patrick Randall of Recruiting and Retention Battalion, placed even higher.
“Although the team composition did not go as we had planned, as a leader with the program, I am still very proud of the individual competitors and the progress they have made over the last few years of training with me,” Wyner said.
Training that has helped some students, like Cunio, outshine the master on a national stage.
“I did not think I would have reached this level so quickly,” Cunio said. “There’s always a little internal competition, but very much a friendly one. Without the support of leadership and fellow team members, none of us would be shooting at the levels we are. I’m very grateful for that.”