• Sgt. Cody Marthaler, left, and Spc. Taylor Smith, a sniper team with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y., approach a window to look for a target during the eighth annual sniper competition on Buchanan Range, Fort Benning, Ga.

    10th Mountain Sniper Team

    Sgt. Cody Marthaler, left, and Spc. Taylor Smith, a sniper team with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y., approach a window to look for a target during the eighth annual sniper competition on...

  • Sgt. 1st Class Robby Johnson, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Jason St John of the winning U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit sniper team search a body for information.  The team earned seven extra points for finding a cell phone, radio, map and other pieces of intelligence.

    Snipers search for intel

    Sgt. 1st Class Robby Johnson, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Jason St John of the winning U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit sniper team search a body for information. The team earned seven extra points for finding a cell phone, radio, map and other pieces of...

  • Team 16, the 10th Special Forces Group out of Fort Carson, Colo., heads into a building to search for targets in the 8th Annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.

    SF sniper team enters building

    Team 16, the 10th Special Forces Group out of Fort Carson, Colo., heads into a building to search for targets in the 8th Annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, Oct. 27, 2008) -- The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit beat out more than 30 teams from France, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Ireland and different branches of the U.S. military to win the International Sniper Competition for the second consecutive year, Oct. 16-21 at Fort Benning.

Snipers in the 8th annual competition hosted by the Sniper School at Benning tested their skills in several events, including aerial shooting, convoy live fire and night shooting.

"They're meant to simulate real-world scenarios they could encounter in a combat environment," said Capt. Jason Lojka, commander of C Co., 2nd Bn., 29th Inf. Regt.

Participating in this event not only helps snipers identify their own weaknesses, but also provides a forum for different branches of the military and snipers from around the world to learn from each other and perfect their techniques, Lojka said.

The competition is also good preparation for deployment, said Spc. Taylor Smith, a spotter with the 10th Mountain Division, which will deploy later this year.

"The scenarios you get here are probably the best training you can get in the Army before you deploy," Smith said. "It's good because the situations here are more elaborate than what a lot of posts can provide. It's a lot more detailed as opposed to going out to your usual range and placing your basic target just so far away. It's a challenge."

The exercises weren't exactly stressful, said Smith, who has been a sniper for a year, "but it does get a little high-paced."

Many of the events, such as counter sniper, were timed. Three points behind first place, USAMU ranked second in that event, finishing with two seconds to spare.

"That's what puts the stress on you - the clock," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason St John, the spotter for the team.

St John and shooter Sgt. 1st Class Robby Johnson identified and engaged four targets, but one was non-hostile, costing the team 10 points. After hitting the bonus target, they were allowed to go downrange to search for intelligence and earn extra points.

In all the exercises, their success depended on clear communication, Johnson said.

Even after the events, they discuss how they can improve.

"The scenarios and targets that are put out there are so phenomenally difficult," St John said. "There isn't an event that we haven't stopped and looked at and said we should have done this a little bit different. This is an extremely difficult match, top to bottom."

The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., placed second overall. D Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, came in third.

(Cheryl Rodewig writes for the Fort Benning Bayonet newspaper.)

Page last updated Mon October 27th, 2008 at 16:37