At the 2014 U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., in late January, one Illinois Army National Guard Soldier was intent on making history.
And that he did.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon earned a Distinguished Rifleman Badge, making him one of only about 3,300 to receive the badge since its inception in 1959.
“It’s exciting to receive the badge because only so many have gotten it,” he said. “It was a goal I set and achieved.”
During the competition, Landon accumulated the last six of 30 leg points needed to reach distinguished status. Leg points are awarded based on an individual’s placement among the top 10 percent of competitors in an authorized match. Leg points accumulate throughout a competitor’s lifetime until distinguished status is attained; however, Landon reached his points in just three years.
A member of the 3637th Maintenance Company, he was one of six Illinois National Guard Soldiers who travelled to Georgia to compete against 200 other Soldiers from across the Nation. The event is considered to be the Army’s premier marksmanship training event.
“This is the ultimate train the trainer event,” said Lt. Col. Don A. King Jr., the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit commander at Fort Benning. “Our primary focus is to reach out and show capabilities to take back and share with your Soldiers.”
The advanced combat, live-fire competition consisted of various matches to test the Soldiers’ shooting proficiency. A multi-gun match tested their ability to transition between a rifle and pistol while engaging various targets at different distances. More challenging matches required a mile and a half run in full combat gear before engaging targets.
In addition to Landon, the Illinois team consisted of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Gibbs with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Gleason with the 3625th Maintenance Company; Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; Sgt. Jeffrey Buggar with the 1844th Transportation Company; and Spc. Joseph Miller with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 232nd Combat Support and Sustainment Battalion.
“Our main focus was to gain experience and bring back new trends and techniques that can be passed on to Illinois Soldiers,” said Gibbs. “We hope to enhance the State-level competition and improve weapons qualifications down to the company level.”
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Original article and photo courtesy of the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office.