GARMISCH, Germany - The U.S. Army Garrison Garmisch Military Police and the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) hosted two shooting competitions here in July.

The first event - hosted by the MPs - was held for an international group of 18 students attending the NATO School in nearby Oberammergau, the second one by German Soldiers for their American counterparts.

The international group - representing Germany, Romania, Poland, Croatia and the United States and ranging in rank from specialist to colonel - spent the first of two long and hot range days firing American M-16 rifles and M-9 Barettas. Some of the Soldiers had not touched a weapon in more than 10 years, while others are pilots who had never fired a rifle. Accordingly, patience and courtesy overcame language barriers to yield positive results.

The Bundeswehr hosted a Schutzenschnur (German army marksman award) range, using the 7.62 MG3 and 9mm pistol for the Garmisch MPs and a small group of Soldiers from USAG Grafenwoehr, giving the American a shot at the prestigious and coveted award.

These ranges are held to demonstrate cooperation between NATO countries and to boost morale for Soldiers of all ranks, while allowing realistic hands-on weapons training for those who had never picked up such NATO weaponry.

On their assigned days of range operations, the U.S. and German Soldiers kept a constant rotation of ammunition and supplied steady firing lines. The sunny weather made the going sweaty, but the language barrier didn't hinder the participants' enthusiasm; everyone was there for the same reasons: to learn from each other, have a good time and shoot bullets.

The U.S. Soldiers who qualified for the German Schutzenschnur on the second were:

Gold - Sgt. Jerame Stoffer;
Silver - First Sgt. John Alam, Sgt. First Class Christopher Allison, Sgt. Christopher Fimpel, Sgt. Marco Garced and Spc. Jonathan L. Watson;
Bronze - Staff Sgt. Kenneth Banks and Spc. Marcus T. Cosby.