ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. -- The National Guard took first overall individual and team awards during the 2018 U.S. Army Small Arms ("All Army") Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia, March 11-17.

The National Guard sent 11 teams to challenge 26 Active Army and Reserve teams, with Missouri National Guard as the overall team small arms champions and Sgt. Justus Densmore with the Texas National Guard taking home the M-1 Grand as the overall individual small arms champion.

"Performances like this show how military competitions directly enhance Soldier lethality and combat effectiveness," said Maj. David Stapp, operations chief for the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center (NGMTC).

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen really show their value during a performance like this..

"The National Guard leverages marksmanship competitions to help improve unit and individual readiness, especially through the use of the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center," Stapp said. "The NGMTC conducts marksmanship competitions that give Soldiers the experience and knowledge to be good subject matter experts who then go back and train their units."

National Guard members who attend these competitions must practice often not only with their team, but also on their own time.

"We practice, on our team, quite a bit in our personal life," said Sgt. Adam Michael Mathis, Illinois National Guard team member; "and we perform well here at the competition, take it back to our units, and increase our overall unit qualification scores on the ranges."

"My guys put in a lot of work on their own time before the match," said Staff Sgt. Michael Richey, Missouri National Guard team captain. "They got out of it what they put in."

Sharing knowledge is essential in the National Guard, which is evident from six of the 11 states placing in the top three of each category. The top National Guard teams that took home first, second of third included: Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Vermont, North Dakota and Illinois. Each of these teams consists of a four-man squad competing with primary and secondary weapon systems.

Missouri is really bringing the heat this year. They placed within the top three overall teams for every team category during this competition.

"All Army was just our warm up," said Richey, the team captain. "We're bringing the same team to the Winston P. Wilson Matches."

The Winston P. Wilson (WPW) National Championship is hosted by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center and is like the "All Army," but is solely between the Army and Air National Guards in the 54 states and territories.

The WPW will be held April 28-May 3 at Robinson Maneuver Training Center, North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information about getting involved, contact the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at 501-212-4531 or visit the website at www.ngmtc.wordpress.com.