CAMP GRAFTON TRAINING CENTER, DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - Some of the best shooters in the North Dakota National Guard gathered at the firing range at Camp Grafton South July 17-18 to test their skills in the N.D. National Guard Adjutant General's Combat Marksmanship Match.

The marksmanship match is an annual state competition held "to promote battle-focused marksmanship training and to enhance overall marksmanship proficiency," said Lt. Col. Stephen P. Herda, of Mandan, N.D., who works with the North Dakota National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. "This match offers Soldiers and Airmen in the North Dakota National Guard an opportunity to test their marksmanship skills and weapon systems in a shoulder-to-shoulder competition. The Adjutant General's Match is designed to test and improve the capabilities of our National Guard forces in a tactically oriented environment."

The competition involves the use of both pistols and rifles in various shooting scenarios.

A team from the 817th Engineer Company, in Jamestown, N.D. took top honors in the event and produced the best individual shooter, Sgt. 1st Class Gary Varberg.

Varberg and the 817th - which is comprised of many members from the former 141st Engineer Combat Battalion's Company B - are no strangers to the winners' circle. Varberg has been the best individual shooter 29 out of 30 years, by his own account, and his team has finished first all 30 times that he's competed.

Varberg, of Cooperstown, N.D., has competed on the national-level All-Guard Shooting Team several times and has traveled to places such as Australia, South Africa, France, Germany, Canada and England with the team.

"I've qualified to shoot for the Queen's Medal Match, held in three different countries. I've even had dinner with the Queen. Marksmanship has taken me places that I thought I'd never see. It's been awesome," Varberg said.

"It's very important for our members to compete in events like this and to take their experience back to their units so they can mentor young Soldiers and Airmen to become better marksmen, which helps them to be better military personnel," said 1st Lt. Randy A. Jahner Jr., of Bismarck, the North Dakota National Guard state marksmanship coordinator.

The North Dakota Air National Guard team finished a respectable sixth place out of 12 teams in its first time back to the competition in several years.

"We have had great support from our leadership at the Wing for this contest and we hope to make a better showing next year," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua VonBank, of Fargo, the North Dakota Air National Guard's team leader. "The North Dakota Air National Guard can have as many as four teams in the competition. It's a good time ... a good experience."

The top scoring team and individuals move on to a regional competition at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., and the top finishers at that contest will advance to the Winston P. Wilson National Championship, which will be in Little Rock, Ark., later this year.
<i>Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 600 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.

High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: Navigate to the photo set titled "Marksmanship Competition 2010."

Video to accompany this release can be requested by contacting Dave Lipp at 701-451-2254.

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