CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Members of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Rifle Team are setting their sights on excellence as they prepare to compete in the 2010 Kenya Armed Forces Rifle Championship (AFRC).

The AFRC, sponsored by the Kenyan government, is scheduled for September 20-24. Invited to compete are its armed services as well a myriad of military units from other African countries and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).

The events are traditional shooting competitions that include pistol and rifle marksmanship. What is not traditional is the physical exertion that an individual shooter must endure.

According to Army Maj. Charles Roseberry, rifle team officer in charge, the key to success at the AFRC is conditioning.

"Our team must be able to cope with the change in altitude to be successful; Kenya is situated at a higher elevation, which affects you physically. The "Falling Plates" match requires you to sprint 100 meter fall to a prone position and fire your weapon." said Roseberry. "Our drills are physically demanding and focus on strength and conditioning."

Along with other drills, the rifle team has incorporated the Marine combat fitness test into their strength and conditioning training.

The Marine CFT consists of an 880-yard sprint, lifting a 30-pound ammo can as many times as possible in two minutes, and a 300-yard course that includes carrying a mock casualty and accurately lobbing a dummy grenade. The CFT's punishing pace tests a service member's endurance and physical prowess.

"Members of our team are already fit, "said Roseberry. "The conditioning that we are conducting will prepare them for the challenging and demanding altitude conditions in Kenya."

Roseberry also said that the AFRC is considered the African military's "World Series of shooting sports," and is their number one training event of the year." The competition attracts several thousand marksmen from across the continent to compete in 10 separate shooting matches.

"We get to represent CJTF-HOA against some of the best marksmen in Africa," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Greer, non-commissioned officer in charge of the team. "Before we fire a single round, we have to ensure everyone can stand up to the physical challenges of these events."

"The CFT is only one aspect of our training," said Greer. "We will also conduct cardio drills and hone our basic marksmanship. Our conditioning will lay the groundwork for success on the rifle range. Some of the teams that are competing have trained and lived in these conditions their entire lives. It is a part of them."

The CJTF-HOA rifle team is an eclectic mix of Soldiers, Marines and Sailors that are focused on not only competing, but also on winning the competition.

"We won't let challenging conditions beat us," said Pfc. George Sisson, who is assigned to the 2/137th Combat Arms Battalion, Kansas Army National Guard.

"For everyone on this team, it's all about a love for the sport and a desire to represent our individual units and our families back home," said Sisson. "Preparing to deal with the conditions is just as important as firing your rifle."

Sisson also said that training together builds camaraderie and teamwork.

"It is important to have your battle buddy pushing you," said Sisson. "It helps give you that extra bit of motivation you might need."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16