Story and photo by 2nd Lt. Daniel Elmblad, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—Over the course of a three-day competition, Soldiers with 6th ‘Saber’ Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center competed for the right to be recognized as the squadron’s top marksman.
The ‘Saber Shooter’ competition, unlike static ranges, measured how effectively an individual Soldier could accurately engage multiple targets in a timely manner while maneuvering and changing out ammunition. Designed to expose Soldiers to shooting their weapon in realistic conditions, the competition was also an opportunity to build morale through friendly competition.
“I liked the competitive atmosphere,” said Spc. Paul Murray, with A Troop, 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt. and a Prescott, Ariz., native. “It wasn’t like a normal range. The competition pushed everyone to do better.”
The competition was divided into three stages. The first stage required Soldiers to rapidly engage three targets multiple times while also having to reload. The second stage tested a Soldier’s capability to effectively move and use cover while engaging multiple targets. The final stage, much like the second, tested a Soldier’s ability to engage targets while maneuvering around obstacles.
“I gained a lot of experience out of this competition,” said Pfc. Maurice Theriault, with C Troop, 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt. and a West Springfield, Mass., native. “We don’t always get a chance to shoot like this.”
Those chances are especially limited, considering the patrols and other work priorities that occupy Soldiers’ time while they are deployed. However, the Soldiers’ response to the competition was positive and they look forward to more opportunities like this.
“I would definitely do the competition again,” said Pvt. Gregory Pike, with A Troop, 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt. and a Macon, Ga., native. “I think they could improve it by making it a team competition, too.”
Spc. Kristopher Mancha, with Hunter Troop, earned the title of ‘Saber Shooter’ by posting the best score. By virtue of having three of the top four shooters, A Troop, by having three of the top four shooters, earned the award for the best troop from the competition.