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Champions Repeat at NH National Guard Marksmanship Match

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Charles Johnston,
  • Joint Force Headquarters - New Hampshire National Guard

FORT DEVENS, Mass. - Team El Salvador and Mountain Company Commander Capt. Robert Matzelle defended their titles in the 2024 New Hampshire National Guard Combat Marksmanship Match June 6-8. 

The Salvadorans bested a field of 21 four-person squads in the team competition, and Matzelle finished as the top individual shooter out of 90 competitors.

“The reason I come out here and shoot is, one, I want to set a good example for my Soldiers, and two, shooting is part of my job,” Matzelle said.

Matzelle’s “Cool Guy Tabs Plus One” crew placed second behind an impressive showing from the Salvadorans, who, along with squads from Cabo Verde and Canada, competed for the second straight year.

“Those guys are legit,” Matzelle conceded.

Known simply as the adjutant general’s or “TAG” match, the three-day shoot featured pistol and rifle events at ranges from 20 to 100 yards in a battle-focused environment.

Marksmen employed M4 rifles with precision optics and M17/M18 pistols with iron sights. They wore extensive tactical gear, or “kit,” including helmets, holsters, ammo pouches and load-bearing vests.

Competitors pushed through nine courses and fired rounds while standing, prone, sitting or kneeling within strict time limits. One course forced teams to sprint about 100 yards to the firing line to elevate breathing and challenge accuracy. Others mandated quick draws, magazine changes and target transitions.

“The directions, the time, all the minute, nuanced details of each different course of fire, we’re just not accustomed to it yet,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Sawicki of Joint Force Headquarters, who captained his inexperienced “Better Blindfolded” team of Airmen from Pease Air National Guard Base. “All of those things, they all just kind of play on top of each other. Makes it a little stressful but in a good way, a fun way.”

Staff Sgt. Wayne Comtois, a marksmanship instructor with operations, helped plan and coordinate the match with experience gained from national competitions. He and a team of 11 Soldiers ensured that ranges were safe and provided optimal training value.

“The Soldiers and Airmen who come here and compete, they learn different techniques,” Comtois said. “They learn different combat-related tasks, they bring that back to their units, and they spread the knowledge.”

Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities, New Hampshire adjutant general, told the competitors the American public trusts them to do the right thing. 

“And that trust is based upon us as American Soldiers and Airmen being able to do our job,“ Mikolaities said. “And it all starts here: basic marksmanship fundamentals.”