FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Three Soldiers from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (Ghost Brigade) represented 7th Infantry Division during the 2017 U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Small Arms Marksmanship Competition held Oct. 23-26, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Staff Sgt. Brent Brabant, Sgt. Logan Farrell and Staff Sgt. Charles Jobst placed in the top three as a team for the competition, which includes categories for 9mm pistol, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and M4 Carbine.
Service members from 10 different FORSCOM units came to Fort Bragg to compete and had to win at their respective division and corps levels before being eligible.
"I was a competitor during the 2016 FORSCOM competition for pistol," said Brabant, who came in second this year for pistol. "So I knew a little bit of what the competition entailed and what it takes to place within the top five."
Competitors had to complete stress shoots requiring Soldiers to carry heavy equipment, stop and shoot, pick the equipment back up and continue running. Some of the the other tasks included dragging simulated casualties with a litter and engaging targets from various, unknown distances.
"With the pistol, the primary thing you need is a grip," said Brabant. "They made us carry modified water cans that had different grips such as wrapped 550 cord or medical tape. We had to transport those across different distances and terrain. We were constantly tiring our grip strength during the carries; we were not at 100 percent when we drew our pistols."
Having the ability to go to get on a plane to Fort Bragg, be issued a random pistol, and go straight to the range to start performing replicates what they might have to do in real life, said Brabant. If the call came down to go to a foreign country, a Soldier might have a weapon they were issued or they might not and they have to make it work.
During the competition, the participants were also given classes covering new marksmanship techniques, Farrell said. These involve dry fire drills the Army is transitioning to in the next couple of years.
"Everyone gets taught dry fire techniques during basic training, but they have added a lot more to it," said Farrell. "For example, a grader assesses you on a list of different marksmanship tasks you have to perform that is weapon specific."
After returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Farrell disseminated his newfound knowledge to his unit.
"When I got back to my platoon, I got with my leadership and discussed the techniques that were taught to us that many do not know about yet," said Farrell. "Competitions like these are great opportunities to learn new things and meet people with different experiences and backgrounds."