Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 37

PHOTO BY U.S. ARMY SNIPER SCHOOL

Events included a punishing lineup day and
night firing, long range marksmanship, sneaking into and out of positions undetected, obstacle courses, and other challenges, sometimes
while wearing body armor or ghillie suits.
"It's a really tough competition," said Nicholas
Irving, a former Army Ranger whose 33
confirmed kills while a sniper earned him the
nickname "The Reaper." Irving competed in the
International Sniper Competition in 2009.
"The courses of fire are the problem, and
every team is going to approach it differently,"
said Sgt. Saykham Keophalychanh, who
competed this year as part of the U.S. Army
National Guard "All Guard" Team out of
Camp Robinson, AR. Keophalychanh and
his teammate, Sgt. Nick Mitchell, won the
competition last year on behalf of the Michigan
National Guard.
Most of the competitors try to get in as much
range time as they can before coming to Fort
Benning, Doolittle said.
For Irving, the contest came directly on the
heels of a deployment.
"It was just a few weeks after Afghanistan,"
Irving said. "They said, 'Hey Irv; you're going.'"
Irving went-and encountered an exacting
shooting competition within a formidable
endurance trial.
"The woods of Fort Benning are brutal,"
Irving said. So, too, are the trials and the pace.
The conditions are in keeping with what a
sniper might experience on the job. Those include combat patrols, ambushes, urban terrain,
and operations wherein snipers are left in place
as stay-behind forces, according to a 1994 Army
guidebook. The guidebook specifies what those
conditions mean for the sniper personally.
"The sniper, often employed in extended
operations with little sleep, food, or water, must

Events change year to year. In 2009, Nick "The Reaper"
Irving and competitors faced a rope climb.

be in outstanding physical condition," states
Army Field Manual 23-10, Sniper Training.
In the International Sniper Competition,
teams are allowed to eat and sleep, but members must be in top physical shape. They also
must remain sharp throughout the tournament.
"The contest throws you into very challenging situations, and really tests you," Irving
said. "The land navigation part smokes a lot of
people. Some of the tests you can't anticipate.
I remember taking shots in competition I never
took in courses. You're just winging it."
"We want this to be something you can't
train for," Doolittle said. "Like the Best Ranger
competition, 10-12 events are the same each
year," but others are unexpected.
"We might scale the targets, such as instead
of shooting at a mannequin, they are shooting a clay pigeon, or we add pistol events or
longer distances."
In 2009, targets went progressively smaller as
the contest progressed.
In the 2017 competition, one event involved
shooting from inside a UH-60 Black Hawk

SSUSA.ORG | JANUARY 2018

37


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA - January 2018

In This Issue
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - Cover1
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - Cover2
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 3
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 4
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 5
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - In This Issue
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 7
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 8
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 9
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 10
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 11
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 12
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 13
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 14
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 15
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 16
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 17
Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 18
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Shooting Sports USA - January 2018 - 54
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