FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Competitors from around the globe gathered at Fort Bragg for the 8th Annual United States Army Special Operations Command's International Sniper Competition.
The competition saw 25, two-man teams from special operations forces, government agencies and military forces from Germany, Singapore, Ireland, Australia, Kyrgyzstan and the United States pitted against each other in events testing their abilities in 20 challenging events over the course of five days.
Competing for bragging rights isn't the only reason for the competition. Master Sgt. Ivor Gonsalves, a Special Forces Sniper Committee instructor, said, "The competition's primary purpose is to foster camaraderie, inter-service competition and showcase tactics, techniques and procedures along with the various types of equipment in use with different units."
Consistent training in stalking, target acquisition and shooting helps the teams meet a series of prerequisites required to enter the competition. "Participants from the U.S. military are from the United States Special Operations Command's units and must be graduates of their service's sniper course. There are a few exceptions to this rule, the U.S. Army's Sniper School and the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School competitors, for example, are allowed to compete as a professional courtesy to fellow sniper instructors. A number of foreign special operations units are also invited to compete as well as select U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Special Response Teams." said Gonsalves.
Each year the events change making the competition unlike any other sniper competition. The events are created by the instructors of the Special Forces Sniper Course. "The events originate from the experienced cadre of the Special Forces Sniper Course. Events are designed to highlight perceived weaknesses in training. We want participants to leave this competition with thoughts on what and how to train better," said Gonsalves.
Not only is it tough to hit the targets every time, but the competitors are also racing against the clock. Each event has time limits ranging from three to eight minutes along with a limited amount of ammunition.
After stress events, moving targets, night engagements and multiple long-shot ranges, one of the teams from USASOC secured the victory. According to Gonsalves, the USASOC teams have a history of victories, but teams from 5th Special Forces Group and the Army Marksmanship units have won as well. This year the 3rd Special Forces Group team took home the victory.
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the U.S. Army's Special Operations Center of Excellence's Special Forces Sniper Course Cadre administered the competition. The SOCoE is also home to other elite training.