By Staff Sgt. Sean Everettem, 25th Infantry DivisionDecember 16, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Dec. 16, 2013) -- Fifteen sniper teams from all over Oahu came together at Schofield Barracks and Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe to compete for the title Best Sniper Dec. 2-4.
The Army was well represented with teams from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and the 728th Military Police Battalion. The Marine Corps and the Honolulu Police Department, or HPD, also fielded teams, making the event truly a joint experience.
"It's consisted of three days of various shooting events to test all of the skills a sniper has," said Pvt. 1st Class Ryan Luther, sniper section, C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "There have been various physical events, and it's tested mental stamina and patience ... a lot of patience."
The Best Sniper Competition was more than just a test of skill, however. It also gave Soldiers the opportunity to work and train with other services and non-military agencies.
"We've talked to a lot of different teams, not only from the Army, but from the Marines and HPD," said Luther. "We've gained a lot of useful information from them; how they run their teams, how they actually like to shoot compared to us. There are a lot of different ideas to take away and incorporate into our own training. It's been a great opportunity."
The competition was organized and run by Capt. Zach Baker, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd SBCT. Baker filled the three days with eight events including a high angle shoot; a rapid engagement against multiple targets in short amount of time; and an eight-mile ruck march for time that went right into the stalking lane. During the stalking lane, teams were issued one round of blank ammo and then had to move across an open field, observe their target and take a shot, then withdraw, all without being detected while four people of the opposing force were actively looking for them.
The final day of the competition saw the teams inserted into the testing area via helicopter before the sun came up.
"It's been a big challenge and definitely a huge learning event," said Spc. Robert Gehring, sniper section, C Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
"For us, we don't have the ranges like the military has," said Officer Quentin Apilando, Honolulu Police Department. "So getting out here helps us a lot. We also don't have some of the equipment and field [training] the military has, so coming out here helps us learn some of that too."
At the end of the day on Dec. 4, Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, the 25th Infantry Division commanding general, awarded the Best Sniper trophy to the team of Staff Sgt. Rey Torres and Sgt. Paul Reardon, from 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. In second place was the team of Sgt. Mark Barruga and Sgt. Ricky Madison from 1-21 Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Third place was Luther and Spc. Taylor Jones from 1-27 Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.