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Attack Wing's dark-horse marksmanship team lights it up in state match

Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Deputy Adjutant General – Air, Pennsylvania National Guard, poses for a photo with Master Sgt. Christopher Fusco, 111th Operations Support Squadron member with the 111th Attack Wing at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, after Fusco’s third-place finish at the Governor’s Twenty marksmanship competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  This marks the first time in six year since the 111th Attack Wing, formerly the 111th Fighter Wing, presented a team to compete in the annual National Guard event. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Deputy Adjutant General – Air, Pennsylvania National Guard, poses for a photo with Master Sgt. Christopher Fusco, 111th Operations Support Squadron member with the 111th Attack Wing at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, after Fusco’s third-place finish at the Governor’s Twenty marksmanship competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. This marks the first time in six year since the 111th Attack Wing, formerly the 111th Fighter Wing, presented a team to compete in the annual National Guard event. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

Master Sgt. Christopher Fusco, 111th Operations Support Squadron member with the 111th Attack Wing at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, prepares his rifle before the Governor’s Twenty marksmanship competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Fusco placed third out of 82 contestants in the annual National Guard event. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

Master Sgt. Christopher Fusco, 111th Operations Support Squadron member with the 111th Attack Wing at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pennsylvania, prepares his rifle before the Governor’s Twenty marksmanship competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Fusco placed third out of 82 contestants in the annual National Guard event. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

A bucket of spent bullet casings represent a day full of competitive marksmanship at the Governor’s Twenty competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  The Governor’s Twenty is a National Guard event that hosts the state’s top marksman from the Army and Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

A bucket of spent bullet casings represent a day full of competitive marksmanship at the Governor’s Twenty competition held July 25, 2015, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. The Governor’s Twenty is a National Guard event that hosts the state’s top marksman from the Army and Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard submitted photo/Released)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. --  Perhaps the 111th Attack Wing's marksmanship team competed with outdated equipment?

Possibly, the team had an inadequate amount of time to practice?

Maybe the inability to test fire and properly adjust their rifles' sights was a handicap?

While all of the above creates an accurate scenario, it didn't stop the 111th ATKW from emerging as a top contender in the Governor's Twenty Competition held at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2015.

Created in 1968 by the Missouri National Guard, the Governor's Twenty is a state-level marksmanship program for National Guardsmen. The competition was embraced by thirteen states since its inception. Each state's top-twenty shooters are awarded an embroidered tab and certificate to identify the shooter as being a member of The Governor's Twenty. 

This year marks the first time in roughly six years that the Wing was represented in the event.

"The initial objective for the [Wing's] marksmanship program's participation in this year's Governor's Twenty was to reestablish itself in the marksmanship community by fielding several competitive shooters in the match," said Senior Master Sgt. John Riccio, 103rd Attack Squadron   Sustainment Training Branch and the base's marksmanship coordinator, in an after action summary report. "We accomplished the objective, thanks largely in part to [Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Fusco's] performance."

Fusco, communication superintendent with the 111th Operations Support Squadron, placed third in the field of 82 contestants. In previous Governor's Twenty matches, he has won first place and numerous second place standings.

"It felt good to compete again for the first time in six years," said Fusco. "Next year, we'll do even better."

Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Long with the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron and Staff Sgt. Earl Stagg, 111th ATKW finance technician, rounded out the team's trifecta.

"Both [Long and Stagg] performed admirably," said Riccio. "Overall, our program's objective is for the [111th Attack Wing is] to reap many benefits, such as wing recognition in the [Air National Guard] community and to foster esprit de corps among our members. Our goal is to also educate and train marksmanship members to attain a high proficiency with weapons by acquiring the basic combat skill of shooting accurately."

As Air National Guard participants were vastly outnumbered by their Army counterparts, it could be considered that the 111th ATKW's performance helped establish Air Guardsmen as true challengers in this annual event.

Either way, the Wing intends on upholding the renewed marksmanship team.

"We have come a long way in very short time," said 2nd Lt. Dakota Kauffman, 270th Engineering Installation Squadron member and base marksmanship coordinator "The 111th Marksmanship Team is now on everyone's radar. We can only surmise that this is just the  beginning to a long and very rewarding program that will benefit our members, the Wing, and of course the Pennsylvania Air National Guard as a whole."