CORAOPOLIS, Pa. --
Breathe in… breathe out. Concentrate, aim and slowly squeeze the trigger. The same steps are repeated over and over in order to perfect the craft of a master marksman. Two members from the 171st Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Squadron, Staff Sergeants Robert Lydic and Nick Yackovich, placed in the Governor’s Twenty, Aug. 14-15, 2020, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
The Governor’s Twenty is a state level competition held by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Unit, sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Governor, that any Army or Air Force National Guard member can take part in. It is an individual competition testing multiple different weapon systems at varying distances in order to determine the best marksman. The competitors are evaluated on the 400-yard slow fire, combat rifle excellence in competition, 30-yard slow fire and combat pistol excellence in competition. In addition to Lydic and Yackovich placing in the top 20, Airman 1st Class Noah Grice and Tech. Sgt. Shawn McCreary, from the 171st SFS, and Airman 1st Class Zach Paff, 171st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, participated.
The top 20 marksman receive the coveted Governor’s Twenty tab to wear on their uniform. This year, of those top 20, four of them were Air National Guard members.
After having competed as individuals, National Guard members take part in the Adjutant General’s Combined Arms Match. This is a team competition however, made up of four members from the same unit. In addition to shooting the same events as the Governor’s Twenty, they also shoot the Bianchi Battle and the General George Patton Team Pistol match. Both involve a lot of coordination, communication and teamwork. The team from the 171st ARW, made up of Lydic, Yackovich, McCreary, and Master Sgt. Scott Shay, from the 171st Medical Group, placed first in the Combined Arms Team Aggregate.
Once the results are final from the Governor’s Twenty and the TAG Match, the State Marksmanship coordinator invites the top 15 from each to move forward and participate in a selection trail to be picked for the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region match. The MAC is put on by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center and is separated into seven regions, with Pennsylvania being a part of Region 2. Three members from the 171st were sent to compete, Yackovich, McCreary, and Master Sgt. Eric Moskal, from the 171st SFS. Together they placed first in the team pistol event and third in the team rifle event.
“I have never been among better teammates in any other organization,” said Yackovich about the MAC. “We challenge each other to become better in every match and lift one another up when we fall short of our mark.”
The base marksmanship team is open to anyone who has a current expert qualification on either weapon, M4 carbine or M9 pistol. If interested, reach out to Staff Sgt. Lydic, firstname.lastname@example.org or Staff Sgt. Yackovich, email@example.com.