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State marksmanship competition, more than just competition

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard compete during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. (left to right) Master Sgt. Brian Dulin, Airman 1st Class Don Boyer, Staff Sgt. Chris Gray and Master Sgt. Michael Bane fire their weapons during the final competition of the day. All together, more than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard compete during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. (left to right) Master Sgt. Brian Dulin, Airman 1st Class Don Boyer, Staff Sgt. Chris Gray and Master Sgt. Michael Bane fire their weapons during the final competition of the day. All together, more than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Airman 1st Class Don Boyer, 157th Maintenance Squadron, shoots the M-9 pistol during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Airman 1st Class Don Boyer, 157th Maintenance Squadron, shoots the M-9 pistol during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Staff Sgt. Chris Gray, 157th Maintenance Squadron, checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Staff Sgt. Chris Gray, 157th Maintenance Squadron, checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Airman 1st Class Don Boyer checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Airman 1st Class Don Boyer checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Staff Sgt. Chris Gray, 157th Maintenance Squadron, checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Staff Sgt. Chris Gray, 157th Maintenance Squadron, checks the scores of another competitor during the state Combat Marksmanship Competition here Aug. 19. More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard competed in the annual event with winners moving on to the New England Warrior Challenge, The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Regional Competition in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt)

FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- More than 70 members of the New Hampshire National Guard gathered at Fort Devens Aug. 18 to 19 to compete as the state's best during at The Adjutant General's 2012 Combat Marksmanship Match.

Competing against one another, Airmen and Soldiers vied for coveted slots on the N.H. Combat Squad, which will compete at the New England Warrior Challenge and The National Guard Marksmanship Advisory Council Region 1 Competition next month.

Although participants were competitive, the real goal of the shootout was to provide valuable training that could mean the difference between life and death while deployed.

"Specifically, as the Air National Guard forward deploys more often and in a more joint environment, training on this range in this environment is much more realistic than at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range," said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Collier, N.H. state command chief. "The opportunity to train here with our Army brethren and glean many of their tactics and experiences is invaluable to our Airmen."

A sentiment equally shared by an Army lieutenant colonel competing in this year's competition.

"The point of this competition is to build camaraderie and improve marksmanship skills, units generally bring a four-man team to compete individually and collectively," said Army Lt. Col. David Mikolaities, commander, 54th Troop Command. "It's both an invaluable and perishable soldier skill that is crucial in today's high ops tempo."

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Jon Worrall, who has volunteered at this event for several years, gives his time because he believes this training can directly result in combat survival.

"This competition could ultimately save some Airmen or Soldier's life," said Worrall, an Iraqi war veteran who was medically retired from the N.H. National Guard after being struck by an individual explosive device and now volunteers to help train Guard members.

While impressed with participation, Collier would encourage more to get involved in this event next year.

"More than just competitors gaining valuable skills here during this event, they're going back to their units and sharing that information with other Airmen and Soldiers," said Collier. "That's why this is such an important event that we should be supporting more."

For more information on the New Hampshire National Guard Combat Marksmanship Competition, contact your respective service representative. Air National Guard, Master Sgt. Brian Dulin at Brian.Dulin@ang.af.mil. Army National Guard, Capt. Allen Corey at allen.corey@us.army.mil.

The weekend's top performers for combat rifle, combat pistol and overall top gun scores are as follows:

High scores for top gun, overall individual: 1st Lt. Mark Fazio, NHNG, with a score of 475; Sgt. David Whitcher, NHNG, with a score of 461; and Command Sgt. Major Jason Speltz, NHNG, with a score of 429.

High score for top combat pistol: 1st Lt. Mark Fazio, NHNG, with a score of 175.

High score for top combat rifle: Sgt. 1st Class James Austin, NHNG, with a score of 130.

High score for top team: "Don't Call 911," Lt. Col David Mikolaities, NHNG; Maj. Brian Fernandes, NHNG; 1st Lt. Mark Fazio, NHNG; Command Sgt. Major Jason Speltz, NHNG, with a score of 1,572.
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