August 13th, 2013

Back from Afghanistan, Guardsman Wins Porter Trophy Match

Story based on report by Lars Dalseide for NRABlog
This time last year, Cody Shields was in his final days of deployment with the National Guard. Described as “eventful”, there was little else said about his time in Afghanistan. A sentiment shared by many returning from battle. The important thing is that he made it back home. “Ten fingers and ten toes,” said Shields. “All is good.”

Camp Perry Porter Match Afghanistan Cody Shields

In the weeks following his return, Shields found his way back to range. Back to a place that was welcoming and familiar. Back to his career in the shooting sports. A journey that found him with the winning score for this year’s Irvine C. Porter Trophy match. “My heart was beating out of my chest. It was my second time in a shoot-off. The first one, ah, didn’t go so well.”

The Porter Trophy match is shot at the same time as the Leech Cup. Fired at 1,000 yards, shooters have 30 minutes to land 20 shots on target. And, as one might guess, the match is shot with a service rifle.

A competitive shooter since the age of fifteen, Shields has always been on the cusp of winning something big. He shot in high school, in college for Akron University, and now for the All Guard Team in Arkansas. But this, easily, is his biggest win. “I was shocked when I realized how well I was shooting here,” said Shields. “Once I realized I was thinking about it, I stopped thinking about it. Just focused on my front sight and tried to keep up with the wind.”

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December 24th, 2012

This Christmas Eve, Remember Our Warriors Deployed Overseas

Soldier's ChristmasThis Christmas Eve day, amidst the shopping frenzy, let’s not forget the scores of American military personnel, volunteers all, who remain deployed overseas, thousands of miles from home. In this video, Marine Master Sgt. Robert Allen sings a Christmas song he wrote for his wife back home. Allen is one of the thousands of service men and women still deployed in Afghanistan. His song helps us remember the many soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen who serve this nation in battle zones far, far from home. MSG Allen hopes his song “will help people understand that though we’re willing to do it, it’s still heart-breaking”.

Video recorded at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
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February 16th, 2011

Hoppe’s Sends Cleaning Kits to U.S. Marines in Combat Zones

Bore Snake Kit USMCHoppe’s has partnered with America 4R Marines to supply more than 5,000 BoreSnake gun cleaning kits to U.S. Marines currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. America 4R Marines is a nonprofit organization of volunteers that supplies much-needed items for battalions or units in the most remote and hostile areas of operation. The mission of America 4R Marines is to not only support the troops with basic human needs and comfort items, but also to provide tactical products that can help military personnel better maintain their equipment and remain safe in combat zones.

The Hoppe’s BoreSnake Soft-Sided Gun Cleaning Kit allows soldiers to quickly clean the bore of their weapon and get it back in to service. The patented product is also small and lightweight for easy transportation in the field. “We’re honored to partner with America 4R Marines and provide much needed supplies to the troops serving our country,” said Phil Gyori, vice president of marketing for Bushnell Outdoor Products, the parent company of Hoppe’s.

Bore Snake Kit USMC

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January 12th, 2011

Camp Perry Champion Sherri Gallagher on Fox and Friends

SGT Sherri Gallagher, winner of the 2010 NRA High Power Rifle Championship at Camp Perry, was recently named the U.S. Army’s Soldier of the Year (SOY). SGT Gallagher, who comes from a family of champion shooters, is the first female to win the SOY Award. The Soldier of the Year competition is an intense 12-month event evaluating simulated battle operations, urban orienteering, first aid, marksmanship, and other soldiering skills. In October, 2010, Sherri beat a talented field of other soldiers at the final stage of the SOY Competition — the ‘Best Warrior’ event held at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Sherri Gallagher USAMULast week, Sherri appeared on the Fox News show Fox and Friends to discuss her Soldier of the Year accomplishment as well as her background in competitive shooting. SGT. Gallagher began shooting at the age of five, as part of America’s leading family of rifle shooters. Sherri’s older sister Michelle Gallagher, mother Nancy Tompkins, and step-father Mid Tompkins have all won major championships. Only two women have ever won the National High Power Championship. The first was Nancy Tompkins, and the second was her daughter, Sherri.

SGT. Gallagher Deploys to Afghanistan Soon
Sherri is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan where she will help train Afghanistan National Army soldiers in marksmanship. As part of a U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) training group, SGT Gallagher will pass on some of the rifle skills that have made her a champion. As she heads off to the Afghan war zone, we wish her (and all U.S. Service personnel) a safe and successful deployment.

Story by KJillson, courtesy NRA Blog; video courtesy of Fox News Insider.
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June 29th, 2010

U.S. Army Issues New M855A1 Ammo to Troops in Afghanistan

The U.S. Army has begun shipping its new, improved 5.56×45 cartridge, the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Army will procure over 200 million rounds of the new M855A1 ammo in the next 12-15 months, and soldiers in Afghanistan will begin using M855A1 ammo in the summer of 2010. The new round replaces the current M855 cartridge used by U.S. troops since the early 1980s.

M855A1 ammunition ammo EPR

The military sought to replace current M855 ammo because M855 has not performed adequately in the Afghan theater. Specific complaints include: 1) inability to effectively penetrate vehicle windshields; 2) poor long-range performance; and 3) failure to fragment even in short-range anti-personnel use. The Army’s Picatinny Arsenal claims that the new M855A1 has improved hard target capability, more consistent performance at all distances, improved accuracy, reduced muzzle flash, and higher velocity. M855A1 ammo is tailored for use in M4 carbines but should also give enhanced performance in M16s and M249s.

M855A1 ammunition ammo EPRNew Steel-Tip Bullet Design
The 62-grain bullet for the new M855A1 ammo is a completely new design. While it may appear to have a plastic “ballistic tip”, that’s deceiving. The new bullet created for M855A1 ammo has a bismuth-tin alloy core with a steel “stacked-cone” penetrating tip. The photo at right shows the version from last year; the final production version may be slightly different (e.g. the final version tip is a different color). Apparently the latest bullet design is a winner. During testing, M855A1 ammo performed better than current 7.62mm ball ammunition against certain types of targets. According to Lt. Col. Jeffrey K. Woods, the program’s product manager, the new M855A1 ammo is “the best general purpose 5.56mm round ever produced. A true general purpose round, the M855A1 exceeds the performance of the current M855 against the many different types of targets likely to be encountered in combat.” The chart below illustrates how M855A1 ammo performs on hard targets compared to M855.

M855A1 hard target

Over One Million Rounds Fired in Army Tests
Prior to initial production, the new M855A1 round underwent vigorous testing. Official qualification of the round consisted of a series of side-by-side tests with the current M855. Overall, the Army fired more than one million rounds to ensure the new cartridge met all expectations. The new M855A1 round is the “most thoroughly tested small caliber round ever fielded” according to Lt. Col. Woods. The new M855A1 is sometimes called “Green Ammo” because it uses a lead-free projectile. Woods said the M855A1’s bullet design shows how “greening” a previously hazardous material can also provide extremely beneficial performance improvements.

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May 3rd, 2010

Brit Sniper Makes Double-Kill at 1.54 miles with .338 Lapua Mag

IMPORTANT UPDATE: In a subsequent BBC Interview, Harrison reported it took about NINE shots for he and his spotter to initially range the target successfully. Then, he reported, his first shot “on target” was a killing shot. That makes the story more plausible.

In a stunning display of marksmanship, and the ultra-long-range capability of the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge, a British sniper killed two Taliban machine-gunners at a confirmed range of 1.54 miles. The distance to the target was GPS-ranged at 8,120 feet or 2,706.6 yards — well over a mile and a half. According to Britain’s Times Online, this successful engagement was the longest ever: “The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972 feet, set by a Canadian soldier [in Afghanistan] in March 2002.” (Canadian Cpl. Rob Furlong used a McMillan Tac 50 in his 2002 engagement.)

The amazing shots were made by Corporal Craig Harrison of the Household Cavalry using an Accuracy International L115A3 rifle, chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. L115A3 rifles, part of the British Army’s Sniper System Improvement Programme (SSIP), were first deployed to Afghanistan in May 2008. Corporal Harrison, with the assistance of his spotter, Trooper Cliff O’Farrell, dropped two Taliban machine-gunners with successive shots while providing covering fire for an Afghan national army patrol south of Musa Qala last November. Harrison told the Times that: “We saw two insurgents running through [a] courtyard, one in a black dishdasha, one in green. They came forward carrying a PKM machine-gun, set it up and opened fire on the commander’s wagon. I rested the bipod of my weapon on a compound wall and aimed for the gunner firing the machine-gun.” Harrison fired three rounds, the first killing one machine-gunner, the second killing the other (who had taken over the weapon), and a third to disable the enemy gun.

A shot at this ultra-long-range requires a superbly accurate rifle, a highly-skilled marksman, and favorable conditions. Harrison said: “Conditions were perfect, no wind, mild weather, clear visibility.”

l115a3 .338 Lapua magnum

Corporal Harrison is a brave soldier. During an ambush later in his Afghan tour of duty, a bullet pierced his helmet but failed to penetrate his skull. Some weeks after that, he broke both arms when a road-side bomb exploded under his vehicle. After recovering from his wounds, Harrison volunteered to return to Afghan duty.

READ MORE: Daily Star Story | TimesOnline Story | N.Y. Post Story.

Photo and illustration courtesy The British Army website.

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March 3rd, 2010

The USAMU — Profiled in Words, Pictures, & Video

GunsAmerica.com, a leading gun classifieds website, has launched a web magazine to complement its firearms for sale listing. Featured in the new webzine is a lengthy profile of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, authored by Michael Molinaro, USAMU PAO. This article is full of interesting facts, and the video below is definitely worth watching.

YouTube Preview Image

Located at Ft. Benning, Georgia, the USAMU includes many current world and Olympic champions. Members of the unit compete in every major international shooting competition. They very often win, and for that reason the USAMU is referred to as “The Home of the Champions.” When not training, or competing in shooting events, USAMU soldiers serve as marksmanship trainers for other U.S. Army units and even allied forces overseas. Recently, a USAMU group was deployed to Afghanistan where they worked with allied Afghan (ANA) units to improve the ANA troops’ shooting skills.

The USAMU also conducts numerous clinics throughout the year. The USAMU teaches more than a thousand novice and experienced shooters at the small-arms firing school every summer at Camp Perry, Ohio. The International Rifle, International Pistol, and Action Shooting teams all host popular youth camps each summer.

USAMU is composed of six competitive shooting sections: Service Rifle, Service Pistol, Action Shooting, International Rifle, International Pistol, and Shotgun. International Rifle, International Pistol, and Shotgun are Olympic sports. The USAMU’s world-class facilities (for both training and competition) consist of 260 acres with 7 ranges and 18 buildings.

Since 1956, members of the USAMU have won hundreds of individual and team national titles, more than 40 World Championships, and 23 Olympic medals. Two noncommissioned officers in the unit, Sgt. Vincent Hancock and Sgt. Glenn Eller, are current Olympic Champions. Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson is the reigning National Pistol Champion and holds countless records in service pistol shooting. Sgt. Daniel Horner is the National Multi-Gun Champion. Spc. Joe Hein is the National smallbore prone Champion.

CLICK HERE to Read the Complete Story….

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February 17th, 2010

USMC Adopts New Open-tip 'SOST' 5.56 Ammo

After learning that M855 NATO ammo does not perform well from short-barreled rifles such as the M4 carbine, the U.S. Marine Corps has started issuing a new type of 5.56×45 ammo to its troops in Afghanistan. The new SOST (Special Operations Science and Technology) ammo, officially designated MK 318 MOD 0 “Cartridge, Caliber 5.56mm Ball, Carbine, Barrier”, features a different open-tip 62mm bullet. The new bullet, with a lead core (in the top half) and solid copper bottom half, is similar to hunting bullets such as Federal’s Trophy Bonded Bear Claw. The SOST bullet was designed by Federal/ATK, which will produce the loaded ammunition.

SOST 5.56 ammo

The new SOST ammo was first developed for use by SOCOM (Special Operations) in the SCAR rifle, which has a short, 13.8″ barrel. Even in short-barreled rifles, the SOST provides impressive ballistics — achieving 2925 fps in a 14″ barrel. Compared to M855 ball ammo, SOST rounds are more lethal when shot from short-barreled rifles. According to the Marine Times, SOST ammunition delivers “consistent, rapid fragmentation which shortens the time required to cause incapacitation of enemy combatants”. Using an open-tip design common with some sniper ammunition, SOST rounds are designed to be “barrier blind”, meaning they stay on target better than existing M855 rounds after penetrating windshields, car doors and other objects. This is important to troops in the Middle Eastern theater who must engage insurgents inside vehicles or hiding behind barriers.

In Afghanistan, the USMC will issue SOST ammo for both the short-barreled M4 carbine as well as the original, full-length M16A4. The Corps purchased a “couple million” SOST rounds as part of a joint $6 million, 10.4-million-round buy in September — enough to last the service several months in Afghanistan.

M855 Criticized by Ground Troops and Pentagon Testers
The standard Marine 5.56 round, the M855, was developed in the 1970s and approved as an official NATO round in 1980. In recent years, however, it has been the subject of widespread criticism from troops, who question whether it has enough punch to stop oncoming enemies.

In 2002, shortcomings in the M855’s performance were detailed in a report by Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Ind., according to Navy Department documents. Additional testing in 2005 showed shortcomings. The Pentagon issued a request to industry for improved ammunition the following year.

CLICK HERE for Full Report on New SOST MK 318 Ammunition.

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