NEWS | July 26, 2022

TAG Match

By Spc. Harrison Moore 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

More than 80 Soldiers and Airmen of the Kentucky National Guard competed in rifle and pistol matches during the annual Adjutant General Kentucky National Guard Rifle and Pistol State Training event, July 23-24.

The event brings together the state's top marksmen to participate as individuals as well as a team. All team members had to be from the same battalion or equivalent type unit.

Delta Company, 1/149th Infantry Battalion was represented by Army infantryman Pfc. Dalton Stevens and Pfc. Neboll Appicelli.

This was the first year in this event for both Soldiers.

"I used to competitively shoot in rifle competitions during high school, so I thought it would be interesting to learn how competitions work in the National Guard," said Appicelli. “I came here really focused on winning a “Governor's Twenty” patch.”

The Kentucky National Guard awards the "Governor's Twenty" to the top 20 participants in the competition. The participants who haven't won the tab must outperform those that have already earned it in order to receive the award.

Appicelli felt the competition was really stiff with 56 of the 86 shooters already having won previously, but he said he was honored to be able to help his teammate along the way and just have fun.

“We are all here with the same goals and we are all like minded in that we want to have fun but also get more time on the range to perfect our craft,” said Appicelli.

"My plan is to challenge myself and also network with other fellow marksmen,” said Stevens. “This event is a great asset provided by the Guard because I can also take back the lessons I am taught here, and bring them back to my unit to help others.”

According to Stevens, the entire event was a morale boost and he felt that there was really no better feeling than shooting alongside Kentucky’s other top marksmen.

Lt. Caleb Blattner, a platoon leader with Delta Co., 1/149th Infantry Battalion, competed in the event and offered words of encouragement to his younger troops Stevens and Apicelli.

"This event is an awesome chance for our younger infantry Soldiers to showcase their skills and it can be really helpful for promotion opportunities," said Blattner.

He added.

"One of the most important skills as an infantryman is to be able to shoot accurately. So, it gives us leaders a chance to see areas where we are strong and areas where we can grow as a unit."

Staff Sgt. Christina Brown, small arms readiness training section leader, and longtime weapons craft specialist, said she enjoyed the process of watching Soldiers improve and gain confidence in their shooting abilities.

"We had a guy that was really nervous the first day and didn’t know what to expect," Garcia said. "But, by day two he came up and told me how excited he was to come back next year and compete!”

“Anyone should consider competing in the “TAG Match," she said. "This event is an excellent opportunity to learn from former patch recipients, and hone your soldiering skills."

This year's event was one of the largest and most successful in recent history. However, the sponsors are looking to boost participation to more than 100 participants for next year's event.

If you, as an individual, or your unit, would like to refine your skills and participate in this training event, or if you would like any additional information for this event or future events, contact Maj. David Howe, State Marksmanship Coordinator, via telephone 270-293-0618 or via email david.a.howe.mil@mail.mil.

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