By Yearling Aaron Pool, Combat Weapons Team PAOApril 22, 2010
What began as a cold, dreary day turned into a terrific glowing victory and a national championship for the cadets competing April 10 as part of the West Point Combat Weapons Team.
The team traveled to the Hartford Gun Club in Connecticut to take on other academy teams at the Joint Service Academy Combat Weapons Competition.
The competition consisted of eight different stages to include M9 pistol, M4 rifle and 12-gauge shotgun shooting.
Each stage was created by the competition's main sponsor, Smith and Wesson, to challenge the shooters to their fullest. In the competition, the shooters worked through each stage to eliminate all the targets accurately while racing against the clock.
Scoring consisted of the shooters being assessed an additional time penalty for every shot missed.
"Adding a timer to the stages increases the complexity because you are forced to choose between getting all of your hits so you don't get penalized, and finishing in as little time as possible," Firstie Jimbo Hughes said.
The West Point CWT's national victory brings the trophy back to West Point, and culminates a year of intense training at small arms weapons proficiency. Since the JSACWC was created more than 10 years ago, the Combat Weapons Team has only lost the trophy three times.
After an unfortunate loss last year, the team was determined not to repeat their mistakes. Practices this year placed heavy emphasis on accuracy and shooting smoothly in all aspects of the competition.
By moving and shooting efficiently, they significantly decreased the total time of each shooter over the course of the day.
"You could try and pin our proficiency on a number of different material factors," Yearling TJ Snukis said about the team's method of training. "But in reality, our proficiency and, ultimately, our success in what we do hinges solely on our expert training and preparation."
When the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, West Point's Combat Weapons Team stood alone at the top of the podium.
The team placed first with a dominating team score and put seven shooters in the top 10 overall.
Cow Andrew Beck edged out Navy's top shooter to place first in the entire competition.
Overjoyed with the victory after a year of hard work, the team clamored into the vans to head to a well-deserved victory banquet.
In the midst of the celebration, team captain Cow James Dallman reflected that, "JSACWC is a great time for us to showcase all the hard work and training that not only team members put in, but also the coaches and officers.
Regaining the championship was a great feeling after losing it to Navy last year.
"Our win would not have been possible without the hard work of all the team members, coaches and officers," he added.
Throughout the weekend many of the team members heaped gratitude on coaches Craig Jackson, Joe Seuk, Gary Salman, Lt. Col. Robert Chamberlain and OIC Capt. Ryan Koolovitz.
With the celebrations over, the team already has an eye on the competition for next year. Just before everyone left someone was overheard saying, "the road to JSACWC: 364 days, gentlemen."