FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 14, 2012) -- A first-place plaque inscribed with the phrase "12th annual International Sniper Competition" was awarded Nov. 7 to Staff Sgt. Daniel Horner and Spc. Tyler Payne, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit duo who beat out 35 teams to take the top title in the open class at this year's event, held Nov. 2-5 on Fort Benning.

For the last two and a half years on post, the two have worked together within USAMU. Both are no strangers to national competitions. Horner has won five U.S. Practical Shooting Association multi-gun national championships -- four of those in a row. And this year, when he took the top honor, Payne was the runner-up.

But the four-day competition was the first time they paired up as a two-man team.

"It feels awesome to win," Horner said. "I've wanted to compete in this event my whole life. We didn't have a slot to compete in the last few years, so when we got in this year, we trained hard the past few weeks to get prepared."

Payne said their last match was in January. Both are multi-gun shooters for the unit's action shooting team and spend most of their time training in 3 gun.

Sgt. 1st Class Adam James, an instructor with the Sniper School, which hosted the competition, said he was glad to see Horner and Payne win.

"They're both outstanding shooters," he said. "I think this was a great competition. It was very close points-wise. There was a lot of experience and a lot of skill. All these events were extremely challenging -- probably a lot more challenging than anyone expected. They stayed consistent … stayed calm. They made few mistakes. That consistency is what got them the win."
Horner attributed much of their success to the ability to manage their time efficiently.

"We are really good at getting a lot accomplished really quickly," he said. "There was no way you could physically get everything done in the time allotted, so it was who completed the most in the time they had.

"In an event like this, if you only know the fundamentals then you will get run over. The fundamentals are the foundation of any good marksman, but here you had to know how to read wind, calculate mover speed, shoot alternate positions and be able to physically complete the events, such as the 4.5-mile run, with all of your gear."

Ultimately, of the diverse teams -- including Army, Air Force, Los Angeles and Chicago police, and military from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates -- everyone learned something, James said, and that made the event as a whole a success.

"They're all taking something back with them," he said. "That's what I wanted. I wanted people to come here and train and learn from each other, and that was achieved."
Payne said the competition wasn't easy.

From tough time constraints to finding targets at night, "there were some real challenges out there," he said. "We shot a moving target from 600 yards from the standing supported position. We had only done it from the prone supported position. The USAMU is home to the best shooter, so anything we can bring back makes our unit even better. We learned a lot."