ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 12, 2011 -- Most people enter competitions with one thought in mind -- winning. For Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance and Cpl. Christopher Stevens, Continental Color Guard, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), creating new opportunities and erasing stereotypes is more important.
"When you think of The Old Guard you don't think sniper. We just want to open the door for other people," said Rance.
For the first time in the regiment's more than two hundred year history, Rance and Stevens will represent The Old Guard in a sniper/observer competition, Oct 14-16, in Elk Garden, W.Va.
Motivated by his previous sniper and combat experience, Rance said he plans to use the competition as a tool to sharpen his skills and further educate Old Guard Soldiers.
"The basic Army rifle marksmanship teaches you to engage targets up to three hundred meters, however, when you deploy to a place like Afghanistan, your engagements are three hundred meters or greater," said Rance. "I hope to gain a wealth of knowledge and bring it back to the regiment. Having that long range experience will be beneficial not only to the Army, but the Soldiers and their units."
Unlike his partner, Stevens had no prior understanding of sniper shooting going into the competition. However, Stevens now feels more than confident based on the training, time and dedication both him and his partner have put forth.
Over the last five months, the team funded their own expenses through a donations website geared toward family and friends. Overall, Rance and Stevens raised more than $9,000 for equipment, ammunition, travel costs and entry fees.
"It's been a great learning experience. I feel like we have somewhat of an edge over some of the other competitors," said Stevens.
Maj. James Stultz, the Honor Guard company commander, agrees with Stevens and believes the sniper competition is a great opportunity for the Old Guard to display the versatility of its Soldiers.
"Our Soldiers can compete and excel at anything outside of just memorial and ceremonial affairs," said Stultz, referring to the regiment's primary mission.
Regardless of the outcome, Rance and Stevens don't plan on stopping in West Virginia. The team hopes to show the world what Old Guard Soldiers are really made of in the international sniper competition next year.