Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: Feb 26, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

BASTROP, Texas – It was a show of joint camaraderie, but also friendly competition as Texas Air, Army and State Guardsmen shared the common interest of putting bullets down range. 

About two dozen Guardsmen converged at Camp Swift near Bastrop for the Governor’s Twenty sniper competition Feb. 20-22, 2015.

The three-day shooting event is one of four state-level marksmanship matches held throughout the year to determine the top 20 marksmen who comprise that year’s Governor’s Twenty and earning the coveted Governor’s Twenty tab.

The tab is a state-level marksmanship award for the top 20 shooters in the state. It is awarded to the top eight pistol marksmen, two snipers, eight riflemen, and two machine gunners.

In addition to providing a venue for Guardsmen to compete among their peers throughout the state, the marksmen competitions allow another avenue for them to receive valuable training.

“There’s no better training than going out,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Brors, 204 Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. “When we do unknown distance, it’s our ranges, so whether we put up the targets or not, I know what the different distances are, but coming out here I really have to use the training we’ve been taught.”

Most often, troops only shoot to qualify a few times a year, if that; however, the matches provide vital training and an opportunity for soldiers and airmen to hone their marksman skills, a critical portion of their job. 

“The sniper is growing in importance,” Sgt. Craig Feldschneider, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “It’s one of the most important things we have on the battlefield.”

For Army snipers, their training ends when they complete the Army Sniper School with no opportunities for advanced training.

“We top out at sniper school,” said Sgt. Chase Smith, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “The field is always changing. There are new formulas and new ways of doing things.”

During each competition, participants vie for the possibility to travel to the Winston P. Wilson rifle and pistol championships at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Joseph T. Robinson near Little Rock, Arkansas.

Following the competition in Arkansas, the chief of the National Guard Bureau awards the Chief’s Fifty Marksmanship badge to the top 35 in combat rifle, 10 in combat pistol, three machine gunners and two snipers.

“If we do good here, the Arkansas match is where your skillset gets pushed,” Smith said. “You have to pull every skill together to make it work. If you’re just a good shot, you won’t do good at all. You have to incorporate everything at the same time.”

Though pistol marksmen, riflemen and machine gunners can move on to compete for the President’s 100 tab, the competition for snipers ends at the WPW match.

“Snipers top out at Arkansas,” Smith said. “You can get the Chief’s 50, but you can’t get the President’s 100 tab.”

In addition to the Governor’s 20 tab, soldiers and airmen can earn points toward Excellence in Competition badges, ranging from a bronze and silver badge to the Distinguished Rifleman and Distinguished Pistol Shot badges.

“This event is a great thing and we love doing it because it’s a chance to bring a lot of people together from the state that all have common interests and common occupations,” Feldschneider said. “We can come out here and put some rounds down range and everybody has fun. It’s competitive, but it’s friendly.”

The state hosted the pistol match in late January. The rifle competition is set for late March