NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Fifty-three four-person teams from across the National Guard competed in the 50th Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championship Aug. 28-Sept. 2.
"We are truly honored to have teams from across the nation at the 2021 WPW Rifle and Pistol Championship," said Col. Andy Bussell, commander of the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, which hosted the event at the Robinson Maneuver Training Center.
Out of the 42 National Guard states and territories in attendance this year, Arkansas and North Dakota Guardsmen took the highest honors.
The Overall State Team Trophy went to the Arkansas National Guard team, represented by Capt. Garrett Miller, Lt. Col. David Stapp, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Noe and Master Sgt. Nathan Watters.
The Pennsylvania National Guard team of Chief Master Sgt. Edward Altmeyer, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Richard Jones, and Sgts. Robert Lydic and Jason Goodling placed second. Alabama Guardsmen Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Ford, Staff Sgt. Marshall Hodge, and Spcs. Avery Rains and Jacob Watkins finished third overall, and all earned the prestigious Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge for the first time.
Staff Sgt. Gavin Rook, North Dakota National Guard, was the Individual Grand Aggregate Champion and recipient of the Lloyd Nelson Trophy. Staff Sgt. John Jordan, South Carolina National Guard, earned second place overall and is a new recipient of the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge. Staff Sgt. Erik Vargas, California National Guard, is the third-place WPW champion. Earlier this year, he represented the National Guard on the All Guard Sniper Team, which won the Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting Sniper Championships.
Rook and Vargas are previous recipients of the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge and were recognized again, this year in both pistol and rifle. Rook first earned his badge in the pistol discipline; Vargas in sniper.
This badge is the highest marksmanship badge given by the National Guard. Each year, only 50 total shooters, shared between rifle, pistol, sniper and machine gun disciplines, are recognized as the Chief's 50 top national-level shooters. Each badge, which can only be received once, is unique to the recipient and has a discipline-specific serial number, their name and the year they earned it engraved on the back.
This year at the rifle and pistol championship, there were only 19 new badges given. But four of the new recipients earned recognition in both rifle and pistol. The other 23 slots were filled by previous recipients, nine of whom earned recognition in both pistol and rifle this year.
"The training value is immense," said 1st Lt. Parker Deese, the Novice Individual Grand Aggregate Champion from the Texas National Guard. "You have shooters here who've been in this competition for 20 years or more. Those individuals are a wealth of knowledge … that needs to be passed on to new shooters."
The competition is steep at these matches and leads to better readiness, which is the key priority of the NGMTC.
"The National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, as the home to the chief of the National Guard Bureau's marksmanship program, tries to ensure that each member of his Army and Air National Guard is fully capable of employing his/her assigned weapon," said Bussell.
Soldiers and Airmen enjoy the competition and the training they receive while here.
"The competition is great … awesome place for Soldiers to come out and test their marksmanship abilities," said Deese. "I think it makes a better fighting force overall. I couldn't ask for anything more."
The NGMTC sponsors the WPW Championships at no cost to state commanders and encourages them to send their service members.
"These competitions add value to commanders," said Stapp, Arkansas Alpha team captain. "Commanders can support their troops, let them attend these matches, and they get excellent marksmanship sustainment training."
50th Winston P. Wilson Results
Overall State Champions
Overall State Champions Trophy: Arkansas: Miller, Noe, Stapp and Watters
Second Place-Pennsylvania: Altmeyer, Goodling, Jones and Lydic
Third Place-Alabama: Ford, Hodge, Rains and Watkins
Combat Rifle Team Aggregate Champions
Combat Rifle Team Aggregate Trophy: Pennsylvania: Altmeyer, Goodling, Jones and Lydic
Second Place-Arkansas: Miller, Noe, Stapp and Watters
Third Place-Texas: Deese, 1st Lt. Larry Bunytyn, Master Sgt. James Dermody, and Sgt. 1st Class Mark Montoya
Combat Pistol Team Aggregate Champions
Combat Pistol Team Aggregate Trophy: California: Vargas, Sgt 1st Class Henry Miller, and Sgts. Howard Hall and Gage Young.
Second Place-Arkansas: Miller, Noe, Stapp and Watters
Third Place-Nebraska: Sgt. 1st Class Adam Borer, 1st Lt. Benjamin Jochum, Capt. Jonathan Lintz and Staff Sgt. Maxwell Maguire
Individual Grand Aggregate Champion
Recipient of the Lloyd Nelson Trophy: Rook
Combat Rifle Individual Aggregate Champion
Recipient of the Combat rifle Individual Aggregate Trophy: Vargas
Combat Pistol Individual Aggregate Champion
Recipient of the Combat Pistol Individual Aggregate Trophy: Noe
High Individual New Shooter
Recipient of the SSG Millard Butler Team Leader award: Hall
Individual Grand Aggregate Champion-Novice
Second Place-Senior Airman Andrew Jaques, Arkansas National Guard
Combat Rifle Individual Aggregate Champion-Novice
Third Place-Sgt. Daniel Quesenbery, Indiana National Guard
Combat Pistol Individual Aggregate Champion-Novice
Recipient of the Stuart R. Clingman Trophy: Young
Second Place-1st Lt. Benjamin Holden, Nevada National Guard
New Chief's 50 Recipients
Rifle and Pistol
Jordan, Lintz and Sgt. Mack Williams, South Carolina National Guard
Deese, Montoya, Ford, Watkins, Jaques, Sgt. Austin Norcross, Colorado National Guard, 1st Sgt. Clint Sandness, South Dakota National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Westover, Vermont National Guard
Hodge, Hall, Young, Holden, Staff Sgt. Kevin Pritchett, South Carolina National Guard, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Bautista, Idaho National Guard, 1st Lt. Jacob Teuschler, Indiana National Guard, and Senior Master Sgt. Brian McDonald, Tennessee National Guard