FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- Soldiers had just arrived at the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Training Center for a couple hours when they were called to a formation and begin preparations for the start of the U.S. Army's Best Warrior Competition, Oct. 4, 2015.

Competitors began the essay and weapon-zeroing portion of the competition during the afternoon. While the essay portion is essential to the soldiers' score, they were most interested in beginning the weapons portion, zeroing an M4 carbine on a 25-meter indoor range.

Sgt. Michael Hooks, a horizontal construction engineer from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, representing U.S. Army Pacific Command, was among the first to finish zeroing his weapon during the first qualifying event of the competition.

"I'm feeling good so far," said Hooks. "I think shooting is something everyone enjoys."

Hooks' upbringing proved advantageous to zeroing and marksmanship for this competition.

"Before I came into the Army I grew up hunting and fishing, so I did a lot of shooting and really enjoyed it," said Hook.

The contenders have competed and mastered benchmarks throughout the year, succeeding at competitions from brigade to regional, to qualify for the Army-wide event.

Spc. Emanuel Moore, a radio communications security repairer assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), representing Special Operations Command, said confidence and hard work is what helped him get to this level in the Best Warrior Competition.

"I trained hard," said Moore. "My inspiration for being here is to set an example, show people that you work hard and good things will come out of it."

"I'm always confident, but everyone else here is confident as well, so I'm just excited to be competing with the Army's best," said Moore.

Though the purpose of this competition is to emphasize that all soldiers must meet basic Soldiering standards by highlighting those who excel, sometimes it is family that is the highlight to some soldiers, many of whom have families cheering them on at home.

"My dad is going to come to the ceremony," said Moore. "Also I actually just had my daughter right before the competition. My little boy and my fiancé at home are cheering me on."

Hooks, who also has family at home cheering him on, said that his wife and two-year-old daughter are cheering and encouraging him.

The competition is an annual event to select the U.S. Army's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Soldier of the Year, also known as the "Best Warrior."