By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)May 22, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - Bundeswehr Staff Sgt. Eugene Nagel had one main reason for standing in a long line with about 100 other German Soldiers at the 29th International Monte Kali Cup Shooting.
He wanted to shoot an American M16 rifle and M9 pistol, and this was one of the few chances he would get to do so. "I've never shot these guns before," Nagel said, and he hoped to find out the differences between the American weapons and the German P8 pistol and G36 rifle, which are standard for the Bundeswehr.
Nagel was one of about 1,500 participants from 14 nations who took part in the three-day competition held May 10-12 at the Wackernheim Regional Range Complex, according to organizers. The complex is a 20-minute drive from Wiesbaden.
Although the event was officially a competition, many military members were interested in qualifying for the German Schutzenschnur, trying out a different kind of gun or simply shooting. While most participants wore military uniforms, members of customs, police officers and civilian guests from shooting associations could also take part.
"It's like an amusement park, but when you get to the end of the line, you get to shoot a gun," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lucas Waller, who stood in line with Nagel. They are stationed together at a NATO base in Geilenkirchen, located west of Cologne near the border of the Netherlands.
The event also offered military personnel from different countries the opportunity to meet one another and talk.
"It is beautiful to have a meeting with Army members of the other states," said Cpl. Cristian Bellotto, a reserve member of the Italian Army.
This was the fifth year Bellotto had traveled to the Monte Kali from his home in Padua, Italy, where he works as a civilian police officer. The event offers him a great opportunity to practice his shooting for his civilian job, Bellotto said.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ajita Warren, stationed in Wiesbaden, said this was the first year she had attended the shooting event, and she found it a great opportunity to get experience using weapons from other countries.
Warren, who had just finished shooting the Swiss SIG556 rifle, said she found it similar to the U.S. M16 rifle, but slightly challenging because it handled differently. "It was still fun though," she said.
Pvt. 1st Class Abimael Colon said he decided to take part in the event because he loves guns and thought it would be a good opportunity to meet military personnel from other countries.
"What better way to spend a Friday than to shoot?" Colon, who shot a 15-out-of-15 on the Swiss SIG556, said.
Andreas Kern, the event's president and coordinator, said his father Bernd Kern started the shooting competition 29 years ago.
Bernd Kern started the event because the team that organized the region's shooting competition won it every year, but usually placed in the middle range of competitors at other competitions, Kern said.
This led his father to suspect the region's shooting event needed more regulation concerning target reading and other elements to make sure the same team did not win every year, Kern said.
So Bernd Kern started the Monte Kali, Kern said. The first international support came from the Americans in Fulda, he said, and it grew from there.
Although Monte Kali organizers have held the event at several places in the area, this is the third year they have held it in Wackernheim, Kern said.
There were five ranges at the event, where people threw grenades, and shot a variety of guns, including 9 mm pistols, M40 rifles, N4 rifles and the Swiss SIG556 rifle, said U.S. Army Maj. Timothy Bostick, the U.S. officer in charge of the event and the commander of Company C, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Civil Support Command.
The 7th U.S. Civil Support Command and the RK Giesel shooting club organized the event, and the 7th U.S. Army Joint Multinational Training Command, Training Support Activity Europe and Training Support Center Wiesbaden staff provided range support, according to an event flyer.