CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, Cortlandt Manor, New York – Four Soldiers assigned to the 206th Military Police Company were the top scorers with 1,409 points, at the 44th Annual New York Army National Guard Combat Marksmanship Skills Competition, held at Camp Smith near Peekskill, Sept. 6-10, 2023.
The top individual scorer for the competition, known as the Adjutant General’s Match, or TAG Match for short, was Staff Sgt. Adam Crist, a member of Headquarters Troop of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry.
Crist had a combined score of 537 for pistol and rifle shooting.
And Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lamonte II, a member of the Joint Force Headquarters, won the competition for most bullseyes, sending a round through the target center 32 times. He also earned the top score —284— in the M4 rifle competition.
There were also awards for teams and individual shooters in other categories.
The annual competition is open to members of the New York Army and Air National Guard and the New York Guard, the state’s volunteer defense force.
The TAG Match provides service members with a chance to test their combat weapons skills, said Major John Fitzpatrick, the match officer in charge.
“The overall intent is to build esprit de corps and weapons proficiency across New York’s military forces and to do so in a competition format,” Fitzpatrick said.
The team from the 206th MPs, nicknamed the Sentinels, included Sgt. Ryan Gallagher, Sgt. Justin Hubert, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Kozloski, and 1st Sgt. Wess Peak.
The team also finished first in the team combat rifle combination.
The top scorers will compete in the northeast region National Guard shooting competition scheduled for August 2024.
The 53 shooters – divided into 11 teams of four Soldiers and Airmen each and nine individual participants, contended with temperatures in the 90s on Sept. 7, and storms which shut down shooting on Sept. 8.
As a result, the remaining matches and the live fire competition were compressed into one day on Sept. 10. The participants started early and wrapped up at 9 p.m.
In 2019 there were 150 participants, but the COVID pandemic shut the ranges down for two years, according to Sgt. 1st Class Ray Delfi, the pistol range NCO in charge. There were 40 participants in 2022, so it is good to see more people involved, Delfi said.
The competitors fired the M4, Sig Sauer M17 and M11 pistols, and the Baretta M9.
Staff Sgt. Trudy Sharpe, a member of the 442nd Military Police Company, said she supported the competition in 2022 and decided she wanted to compete.
“It looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to come join this year,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity for you to start building on fundamentals, I recommend that everyone should participate, whether they're a private first class, an NCO or a captain because everyone struggles,” Sharpe said.
The competition allowed service members the opportunity to participate and challenge themselves by doing something exciting, said Staff Sgt. Spencer Kencsa, a member of Joint Force Headquarters.
“I’m just excited to finally participate in this competition”, Kensca said, “I’ve been trying to compete for the past four years, but due to complications like COVID-19 and the two-year hiatus that followed, I wasn’t able to.”
Competitive shooting helps National Guard Soldiers and Airmen hone their skills and learn to train other Guardsmen more effectively, said Capt. Patrick Shuart, a member of the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters.
“The Army has been trying to revamp individual tasks to make the training and evaluation more realistic. For example, can you lift something heavy then move when tired? You can shoot a stationary object, but can you shoot when under stress or when your heart rate is up or in an alternate shooting position,” Shuart said.
“Unfortunately, the National Guard only gets 39 days a year and we don't get the opportunity to train on such things within the normal training schedules. Competitions like this are important because they help us test those things as individual Soldiers,” he said.