FORT BENNING, Ga. –
Soldiers from the 84th Training Command and the 86th Training Division set their sight posts on the U.S. Army Small Arms Championship (ALL-ARMY) from Mar. 12 through the 18th, 2023, located at Fort Benning, Ga.
Hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the ALL-ARMY competition is designed to test Soldiers ability to employ both primary and secondary weapon systems effectively, think critically and problem solve in a high stress operational environment.
In preparation for the event, competitors conducted a series of training exercises to include reaction drills, Engagement Skills Trainer target practice and attended classes on Imagery for Performance Excellence and Breathing and Expectation Management.
The team, led by Master Sgt. Christopher Gervasio, the 84th marksmanship program director and team coach, included Sgt. 1st Class Clarence Baugher, Master Sgt. Joseph Thomas, Sgt. 1st Class Justin Bovie, Sgt. Maj. Josh Richardson, Sgt. 1st Class Martin Baumgartner and Sgt. 1st Kevin Class Colvard.
Gervasio has been on the circuit for several years and is a pro-marksmanship veteran who earned the presidents 100 badge in 2010 and was the top Army Reserve Soldier at Nationals in 2022 earning him the Citizens Soldier trophy.
“The All-ARMY is still widely unknown for many units below the Division level,” said Gervasio. “Most of the Soldiers that participated on the team had no idea these types of marksmanship events took place.”
This was the first time the 84th organized a team to compete in the ALL-ARMY and for Gervasio, setting a precedent was paramount.
“It was gratifying for me to coach them and watch them develop their skills and understanding advanced marksmanship techniques,” said Gervasio. “The team was able to gain new perspectives on competitive skill levels that few get to experience in the Army and Army Reserve.”
The ALL-ARMY tests both individual proficiencies and team cohesion events. Some of the events included long distance rifle ranges, quick and ready reaction draws, team pistol quick draws, and notably the infantry team maneuvers match, that scored a team’s ability to bound 100 meters at a time and hit the most targets cohesively in 90 second intervals.
Sgt. Maj. Josh Richardson, part of the 84th’s Operations Accreditation and Assessment team, took an active role and interest in both establishing a team and participating in the competition.
“There was an opportunity presented to the 84th to assemble and send a team for this event last September,” said Richardson. “This is something that in my 34 years in the Army Reserve that I’ve never been involved with, so this opportunity provided me to go for the first time and experience marksmanship at the competitive level.
With these opportunities Richardson had a goal in mind.
“We got busy and began recruiting some of the troops at our down-trace units, incorporating the 86th Training Division and preparing for this ALL-ARMY match to compete against a host of Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard competitors,” said Richardson. “The goal of our marksmanship program is to expose younger Soldiers to these events, train fundamentals, and re-invigorate unit programs to enhance their Soldiers ability to shoot, move and communicate.”
Members of the 86th, led by Command Sgt. Major Don Long, the 1st Brigade Command Sgt. Maj., include Master Sgt. James Salm, Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Peters and Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Cicero.
The 86th team came into the competition with renewed vigor and excitement as the 84th continues to expand thier footprint for special events and programs for their Soldiers.
“The ALL-ARMY is an awesome opportunity for Soldiers to receive expert training from the Army Marksmanship Unit and hone their skills with their primary weapon systems,” said Long. “I encourage each and every unit to make the time to emphasize weapons training to increase individual and team proficiency and enhance unit lethality and readiness.”