GRAFENWOEHR, Germany- In the spirit of marksmanship training and partnership, the German army Noncommissioned Officer's Academy in Weiden hosted U.S. Army, Europe Soldiers in a Schutzenschnur shooting competition Nov. 16.

More than 50 U.S. and a dozen German Soldiers participated, with each group firing the other's weapons. The U.S. Soldiers used the MG-3 machinegun and P-8 pistol, while their German counterparts trained on the M-4 carbine.

"The machine gun was awesome. It is impressive what they can do with it," said Cpl. James Medlin, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. "The German Soldiers were patient and taught us a lot."

The competition is a result of almost 15 years of cooperation between USAREUR and German professional military education schools - and a friendship between allies that has built up for decades.

"We have had an active partnership with the 7th Army NCO Academy since the early 1990s," said Maj. Peter Hug, German NCO academy deputy commandant. "Besides weapons training, the Schutzenschnur allows interaction between German and American Soldiers."

"There is no better partnership in Germany," agreed Sgt. Maj. Charles Roster, the U.S. Army exchange sergeant major to the German academy. "We do these shoots three to four times yearly, and we always have more people apply then we can handle."

For those fortunate enough to participate, there's a chance to receive either a gold, silver or bronze Schutzenschnur marksmanship award, which U.S. Soldiers can wear on their dress uniforms.

Spec. Daniel Leinweber, 2nd Squadron, 2nd SCR, one of two Soldiers to earn a roped gold medallion, called his participation "a great opportunity to interact with German Soldiers and use their weapons."

"Everybody wants to come to this training, he said. "Our unit alone could fill the ranks of the classes every time, if they let us."

And there would be no trouble filling the firing positions with German Soldiers also ready to share their marksmanship skills.

"Many of the Soldiers in my unit want to come as well," said Obergefreiter (private first class) Sven Buchwald, a German army medic. "This is a nice change from our normal training. It is good to talk with other Soldiers and learn from each other.

"The atmosphere here ... we are like brothers," he said.