RUKLA, Lithuania -- A total of 62 snipers from around the Baltics gathered Oct. 13 here to take part in a competition with the goal of enhancing military cooperation and to find out who among them was the best shot.

Among those competing were two teams from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

The two teams were made up of Staff Sgt. Patrick Tinsley and SSG Joshua Lawrence, from Battle Company and Staff Sgt. Floyd Smith and Staff Sgt. Luis Suarez, from Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

The Paratroopers competed in the tournament because they wanted to see how they would stack up against the competition.

"Sniperfest was a great opportunity for us to interact with our Baltic Allies, specifically in the precision marksmanship community," said Capt. John Billington, commander, HHC. "Each sniper had something to contribute to the others, pertinent to their craft."

For the snipers, getting to compete was its own reward.

"I have never competed in a sniper competition before," said Smith, who has been a sniper for five years. Smith said when he heard about the competition, he decided to step up and compete.

The competition started with each team taking turns firing and spotting at a 300-meter target. The top 12 teams qualified to move on to the competition, which consisted of four stages. During each stage Soldiers fired from different positions at targets of varying distances. By the time the last shot was fired, the Americans were able to take the fifth spot among the many teams that participated.

"We are proud of our snipers and their performance today," said Billington. "It was a tough but fair shoot."

2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. (Airborne) arrived in the Baltics last month to embark on a six-month rotation to train with their Baltic partners as part of Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. led effort being conducted in Eastern Europe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.