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Public Affairs : Combat Weapons Team competes at All Army

Combat Weapons Team competes at All Army Small Arms Competition 

Story and photos by Capt. Michael Gold
West Point Combat Weapons Team
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2014) — “Shooter are you ready?”

With a quick head nod, Class of 2014 Cadet Jim Fiser signaled to the range officer that he was ready to begin the course of fire. Less than a second later, Fiser was engaging targets as quickly and accurately as he could with his M9A1 service pistol and M4 carbine in one of the multi-gun stages at the Krilling Range Complex.

This stage was one of many that cadets from the Combat Weapons Team faced at the 2014 Small Arms Competition, or also known across the operational force as All Army.

Fiser was not alone at All Army as four other members from the Combat Weapons Team also competed. Class of 2014 Cadets Austin Marietta, Danny Freeman, Christian Reeves and Class of 2015 Cadet Dan Sayles, along with Maj. Cory Carter, from the Department of Military Instruction, and Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Haynes, from the Brigade Tactical Department, traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., for a week of shooting.

The competition, Jan. 28-Feb. 2, consisted of 210 Soldiers from the active, reserve and guard component along with cadets from five ROTC programs and a team from the U.S. Military Academy.

The USMA team had a very strong showing in both the individual and team matches. In the team events, the Combat Weapons Team finished in the top 10 of the field of 33 teams in numerous team matches. In team Pistol Match 4, the team placed seventh. In Pistol Team Match 6, they finished sixth and in the Pistol Team Match 25 they finished eighth.

The additional six matches were broken down into numerous shooting skill classes ranging from the pro shooter category to the cadet class. In the cadet class, there were more than 32 competitors trying to earn as many points in the different matches. All the USMA cadets consistently placed among the top shooters in their class and earned numerous distinct honors.

Sayles earned a bronze medal in Pistol EIC Match 221; Reeves earned a gold medal in Rifle Match 7 and a silver medal in Rile EIC Match 321; Freeman earned a silver medal in Combined Match 50 and a bronze in Pistol Match 3; Marietta earned a gold medal in Pistol Match 3 and a silver medal in Pistol EIC Match 221 (Pistol EIC) and a bronze medal in the Combined Match 50; and Fiser earned a gold medal in the Combined Match 50.

The top six cadets of the competition earned recognition from the Army Marksmanship Unit commander for their excellence in marksmanship. The final overall Cadet standings for the 2014 All Army Competition was Cadet Larsen from Michigan State earning first place, Fiser in second place, Marietta in third place, Freeman in fourth place, Reeves in fifth place and Sayles in sixth place.

The competition not only focused on competing to be the best team, but also focused heavily on developing the individual combat firing skills at the entry and intermediate levels and recognizing superior skill at the highest levels. Additionally, the week of shooting was aimed to raise the standard of marksmanship across the entire operational force.
CDT Sayles.jpg
Class of 2015 Cadet Dan Sayles earned a bronze medal while competing at the 2014 All Army Small Arms Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.
Cadets from the Combat Weapons Team proved highly competitive at the 2014 Small Arms Competiton at Fort Benning, Ga.

For the cadets who will soon be joining the operational force as platoon leaders, the course of fire designed by the Army Marksmanship Unit, along with the classroom portion of instruction, helped them learn additional ways to train the most fundamental warrior task of engaging targets with a weapon.

All Army kicks off the spring semester of competitive shooting for the West Point team, and it is normally reserved for the more senior cadets to compete in and showcase the combat skills they have learned.

Freeman is a four-year member and competed for the first time at All Army this year.

“The most valuable skill I have learned on the Combat Weapons Team is the ability to identify an end state, map the individual and collective objectives that need to be trained, and then implement a relevant training program to meet those objectives that is completely resourced logistically,” Freeman said. “I feel this skill is directly transferable and will prove much value added to any assignment I hold as an Army officer.”

Sayles also got his first taste of the All Army competition with Freeman.

“All Army offered us (the team) a chance to test our skills in the most comprehensive manner at our disposal,” Sayles said. “The unique combination of long-range rifle marksmanship, handgun accuracy and combat action shooting presented the team an opportunity to not only evaluate our current level of marksmanship but to train with some of the best marksmen in the Army.”

The Combat Weapons Team is comprised of cadets from all four classes and focuses on developing them as competent leaders of character through the medium of live-fire training events, the mentorship of fellow cadets in the employment of small arms and by competing in local and regional small arms competitions. The team has three large competitions they compete in during each academic year.