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NEWS | May 10, 2024

Kentucky Alpha competes in 53rd Winston P. Wilson Small Arms Championship

By Sgt. Destini Keene, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

Four Soldiers from the Kentucky Army National Guard competed in the 53rd Winston P. Wilson (WPW) national rifle and pistol marksmanship championship in Camp Robinson, April 27-May 3.

This event, hosted and sponsored by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center and the 233rd Regional Training Institute Sniper Instructors, exemplifies the high-level training designed to enhance and ensure the National Guard is a lethal and ready force that is capable of addressing our nation's challenges.

There were 192 competitors that attended this year's event, making 48, four-man teams. They traveled from 44 states and territories and included U.S. allies from as far away as the Netherlands.

Throughout the week, there were 14 marksmanship events, and each marksman fired more than 600 rounds and competed on three weapon-systems.

Each team was evaluated on field firing, advanced marksmanship, and target engagement. Courses of fire tested the abilities of shooters in a number of scenarios based on both individual and team proficiency with the M9, M11, or M17 service pistol, the M16A2/A4 or M4/M4A1 assault rifle, and the M500/590 shotgun.

This competition serves as a training tool for U.S. and Allied armed forces, teaching participants to maneuver and shoot in controlled chaos that mimics a battle-like environment. This setting helps teams hone their existing skills and develop new ones.

Additionally, U.S. military service members can earn Excellence in Competition (EIC) Marksmanship Badges and credit points toward their Distinguished Rifle and Pistol designations in the EIC Matches during the event. The prestigious EIC Badge takes precedence over standard qualification badges.

The four Soldiers competing from Kentucky, considered ‘Kentucky Alpha' team, included Sgt. 1st Class Edward Cole, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Walton, Staff Sgt. Ben Harman, and Staff Sgt. Adam Brown.

During the 'know your limits' event, the members of Kentucky Alpha demonstrated remarkable agility and precision as they navigated through the challenge. Advancing from an undisclosed starting point to the firing line with determination, they adeptly adjusted to the unknown distances and swiftly adopted the required firing positions. Despite the time constraints and the pressure to engage their assigned targets within 60-seconds, the team remained composed and focused, showcasing their exceptional marksmanship skills.

Their strategic approach and proficiency led them to secure an impressive third place overall in the 'know your limits' event, showcasing their readiness and skill in high-pressure situations.

Brown and Cole received the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge for outstanding marksmanship abilities during the competition.

“I am surprised yet honored to have earned this badge,” said Brown. “This is a great accomplishment for myself, and I can’t wait to take back everything I have learned that earned me the badge and mentor my Soldiers.”

Cole, captain of Kentucky Alpha and two-time honoree of the Chief’s 50, shared his insights on the team’s experience at the competition.

“Not only does participating in the WPW allow us (the team) the chance to dial in our marksmanship skills,” said Cole, “but, each event provides us different feedback to take back to our state. This feedback is crucial for enhancing our training programs, and that increases our retention and lethality. Soldiers who excel in marksmanship often feel more valued and motivated to continue serving, leading to higher retention rates, and increased overall lethality for our state.”

Check out Flickr for more phots from the event:


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