For the first time, an international team of snipers has won the annual sniper competition held annually at Fort Benning, GA. A team from the Army Ranger Wing ('Sciathan Fíanóglach an Airm') of the Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) won the 15th International and U.S. Sniper Competition. The Army Ranger Wing is the special forces unit of the Irish Army.
The competition featured teams (shooter and spotter plus team coach) from around the US military plus international teams from the UK, Denmark, Canada, Germany, and, of course, Ireland. Also there were teams from the FBI plus two Georgia police departments. The event was held October 19th through 23rd.
Capt. Nick Privette, commander of the US Army Sniper Course, describes the skills that the sniper teams would be tested on in this competition.
The Irish Defence Forces released this on the win:
The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM congratulated the Rangers, stating;Consistency was the key to the win by the Irish whose names and pictures were not released at their request.
"The Army Ranger Wing have long been regarded as one of the finest Special Forces Units in the world. This victory is testament to their hard training and resolve."
Col. William Thigpen, commander of the 316 Cavalry Brigade, pointed to consistency as the key to success for the Ireland team over the course of 16 events. Teams were tested in long-range marksmanship, observation, target detection, stalking, reconnaissance and reporting and the ability to move with stealth while concealed.Even local Columbus, Georgia TV took notice of the win by the Irish team.
"They demonstrated the most consistency across the board," Thigpen said.
The statistics haven't been reviewed yet, but Thigpen said the Ireland team may be the first international team to win the sniper competition.
"I'm almost positive this is the first international team to win the competition," the commander said. "We are fair in everything we do. That's how the numbers registered. They were the best team in 2015."
Over the years, consistency in shooting has been key for winners.
"We found out that over the last couple of years teams that stay within the top five in each event tend to have a better chance in winning the overall competition," Thigpen said. "That's a consistent trend at least over the last three years."
The efforts of the Ireland team were noticed by Staff Sgt. Steve Curry and Sgt. Emmanuel Velayo of Camp Pendleton, Calif., who came in third place.
"The international teams were quite impressive," Curry said after the ceremony. "The Ireland team did extraordinarily well. They were consistent, they were accurate and they did all the basic things right."