Soldiers win Rocky Mountain 3-Gun team match for second year in row

Sgt. Tyler Payne, left, Staff Sgt. Joel Turner, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner and Sgt. Matthew Sweeney, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, won the gold in the team championship match during the 2016 Rocky Mountain Championship Aug. 11 to 14. Horner, Turner and Sweeney received individual gold medals for their shooting divisions -- limited scope, limited iron and he-man scope, respectively -- and Payne won a silver medal in the open division. (U.S. Army photo by Brenda Rolin/released)

Sgt. Tyler Payne, left, Staff Sgt. Joel Turner, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner and Sgt. Matthew Sweeney, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, won the gold in the team championship match during the 2016 Rocky Mountain Championship Aug. 11 to 14. (U.S. Army photos by Brenda Rolin/released)

By Brenda Rolin, USAMU PAO /

RATON, N.M. (Aug. 22, 2016) — Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit won the team match during the 2016 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship Aug. 11 to 14 for the second consecutive year.

The team consisted of Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner, Staff Sgt. Joel Turner, and Sgts. Matthew Sweeney and Tyler Payne.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, fires at a spinning target during the 2016 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship Aug. 11 to 14. Horner won the gold in the limited scope division and was a member of the four-man team that won the team championship. (U.S. Army photo by Brenda Rolin/released)

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Horner, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, fires at a spinning target during the 2016 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship Aug. 11 to 14.

Horner said because of the Army, they won not only the team title but also three individual titles — Horner, Turner and Sweeney received individual gold medals for their shooting divisions — limited scope, limited iron and he-man scope, respectively. Payne won a silver medal in the open division.

“No matter what the Army asks you to do, they provide the training, equipment and time,” Horner said.

The Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship is set in the natural terrain of mountains, riverbeds, sand and rock in New Mexico. The area provides plenty of wide-open space to fire rifles and pistols at long-range targets and to fire shotguns at moving aerial targets.

Horner said the type of shooting required in this championship ties directly into training Soldiers.

“The rifle, which is all speed up close and accuracy at the long ranges, closely replicates what Soldiers are currently seeing in Afghanistan,” he said.

Sgt. Tyler Payne, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, aims his pistol at a target during the 2016 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship Aug. 11 to 14. Payne won the silver in the open division and was a member of the four-man team that won the team championship. (U.S. Army photo by Brenda Rolin/released)

Sgt. Tyler Payne, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, aims his pistol at a target during the 2016 Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship Aug. 11 to 14.

Turner said everything he learns on a course of fire like the Rocky Mountain 3-Gun Championship can be applied to operational situations.

“Our sport specifically — action shooting — relates to combat because (Soldiers) shoot on the move, shoot from barricades and shoot from alternate positions,” he said.

USAMU is a unique unit where Soldiers train and compete as marksmen and apply what they learn to teach Soldiers how to shoot their weapons more accurately and effectively.

Lessons learned by USAMU shooter-instructors are applied to courses such as the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course designed by USAMU to provide commanders with select noncommissioned officers who understand how to train marksmanship and train and develop primary and assistant instructors. The course is currently available through the Army Training Requirements and Resources System.

But even the most experienced marksmen need backup.

Gunsmith Sgt. 1st Class Craig Nelson said he and other Custom Firearms Shop Soldiers and civilians provide support on the road to ensure the shooters don’t have equipment problems that prevent them from competing.

“There have been times when someone is fighting for the lead and their gun breaks, and we get them back in the competition,” he said. “(The Action Shooting Team) shoots three different types of firearms and each has different problems, but it’s usually something common.”

“They are the best gunsmiths in the world,” Horner said. “They can customize any type of small arm.”

The CFS has a proven track record of providing the Army with its precision long-range small arms. They also developed and built the weapons that became the sniper systems employed by the Army for more than five decades.

CFS professionals produce top-quality, match-grade rifles, pistols and shotguns, as well as much of the ammunition for the Army Marksmanship Unit. They also support the Army’s small arms research and development initiatives to raise the Army’s overall combat readiness.

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For more information about USAMU, visit http://www.usaac.army.mil/amu/.

To view more photos from the event, visit fortbenningphotos.com.

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