Guardsman Prepares to Hit Mark at National Championship

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. --

Ready on the right, ready on the left, all ready on the firing line.

            An initial assessment of the wind, temperature and shooting distance is made, then the firing begins. With impeccable focus, the trigger is squeezed over and over sending each round flying towards the target. “Good, good, good right there,” said the shooting coach, indicating to the marksmen the shot placement. Each shot crucial for the final score of the competition.

            That is how Senior Master Sgt. Edward Altmeyer, the Superintendent of the 171st Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron, recalls a service-rifle shooting competition.

            Altmeyer represents the All Guard Marksmanship Team in addition to his regular duties as an Airman at the 171st. During the Desert Midwinter Classic in Phoenix, AZ, Altmeyer was the overall grand aggregate winner. The competition consisted of approximately 50 shooters from multiple state association shooting teams.

            “You’re getting a training session by using the same tools you’ll deploy with,” said Altmeyer.

            The next competition Altmeyer will be participating in is the 2017 Winston P. Wilson National Championship in July at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Every state and territory in the United States is invited to participate in what will decide the state national champion. Altmeyer and the Pennsylvania State Marksmanship Team had won the championship four years in a row until last year.

            The training required to be considered for the PA team is a weeklong training session in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. During the training, the team practices different portions of the matches they will see at the WPW championship. Scores are tracked, compiled into a database, and then a final team is chosen. No one is guaranteed a spot.

            The matches in the WPW championship are combat oriented like the stuff you see overseas, said Altmeyer. 

            One of the matches in the competition is the fallen comrade match, which consists of running 100 yards, shooting the assigned targets, then picking up and carrying a simulated, wounded comrade back to the finish. Another area of competency is forward assault, which starts with 300 yard targets and works down to 25 yard targets with assigned timeframes and round counts. It encompasses precision all the way to close quarter battle, said Altmeyer.

            There’s a lot of running and shooting, said Altmeyer. You need to have your cardio up and keep your heartrate down, that’s the stuff I really like.

            Altmeyer, who also works as a police officer, said he has been shooting for 18 years.

            “Combat shooting is a core competency that is important to being an Airman,” said Altmeyer.