By Mr. Michael Molinaro, U.S. Army Marksmanship UnitApril 23, 2014
LAS VEGAS (April 23, 2014) -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Action Shooting team won two titles at the 2014 U.S. Practical Shooting Association Multi-gun National Championships, held Friday through Sunday.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Horner won the overall title and first place in the Tactical Ops Division for an unprecedented sixth time, while Sgt. Matthew Sweeney won in the Heavy Metal Tactical Division.
"This is a huge match and being crowned a national champion is very prestigious," said Sweeney, a Pinckneyville, Ill native. "We train up year-round just to get the title, so it's a great achievement for me. We have a great team behind us. We have unlimited support from the chain of command, great gunsmiths and a great unit behind us."
It has been an impressive April for Horner. The Suffolk, Va., native started off the month winning the U.S. Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition with teammate Sgt. Tyler Payne. After that, he won his second straight 3-Gun Nation Pro Series Tour win, before securing this latest national championship in Las Vegas. The win marks his sixth national title in the Tactical Ops Division, the first shooter to ever accomplish the feat in the sport's largest division.
Horner said, "2014 has been good. No one guy is great but together we can accomplish some pretty good things. We all support each other to make good decisions and come up with a good plan. You are still on your own when the clock goes off, but we keep each other focused on the goal at hand."
All five U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, or USAMU, shooters who competed this year finished in the top five in their respective divisions.
Unlike other competitions that focus on short-range shooting and shooting on the move, the Practical Shooting Association Multi-gun National Championships test shooters using odd-positions, barricades, stage planning, and long-range rifle targets in addition to moving quickly through stages.
"This year the shooting was difficult, but the speed at which you had to make the shots was so high that you couldn't make any mistakes," Horner said. "You would run out of shotgun ammo at some point if you missed one shot and (that's a ten point penalty.)"
Highlighting the difference between USAMU shooters and their civilian counterparts, after the awards ceremony, Horner and Sweeny jumped on a plane to train Soldiers preparing for deployment. Besides showcasing the very best of Army skills in competition, the unit applies lessons learned from marksmanship competitions to training Soldiers for combat and raising the Army's Marksmanship proficiency.
Even after six national titles and a ranking as one of the best sniper teams currently in the world, Horner said he'll never get to a point where he thinks he knows it all.
"I learn something every day," Horner concluded. "I can learn something from every single person shooting and use it to help someone else or help me."
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group and is tasked with enhancing the Army's recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army's overall combat readiness.