FORT BENNING, Ga. - Staff Sgts. Joe Lynch and Michael Rach, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning have shot their way to the top of the sixth annual International Sniper Competition, emerging from nearly a week of competition as this year's champions. .
Officials here on Thursday confirmed the top three teams at the end of all competition, which concluded earlier in the day with the finish of an overnight event. Taking second place was the team of Sgt. 1st Class Jason St. John and Staff Sgt. Robby Johnson of the Army Marksmanship Unit. Finishing in third was the team of Sgt. Michael Cassidy and Sgt. Thomas Payne, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Twenty-six teams started the competition, including shooters from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force and the British, Canadian and Israeli militaries. One was eliminated after the first day for negligent discharge, while a second team, from Canada, dropped out Tuesday night after an equipment malfunction.
Competition officials will release the final rankings of the remaining teams later today.
Lynch said he feels the field of competitors was pretty evenly matched.
"You've got to keep on your toes ? and do the best you can," he said. "The toughest part of the competition is probably not knowing what you're going to be doing and preparing yourself mentally."
The competition, sponsored by the Army Sniper School, started on Saturday. The first few days were packed with scenarios designed to simulate combat.
Competitors fought their way to an infantry unit pinned down by the enemy, fired an M2 .50-caliber machine gun at long-range targets and tested their ability to shoot accurately after jumping over obstacles, running and carrying 30-pound sandbags.
The combat-focused events were new additions to the competition.
"I think the battlefield is much more fluid" these days, said Capt. Marc Messerschmitt, commander of the Army Sniper School. "Snipers need to be more adaptive and be able to engage the target [at] no matter what range."
Video: http://mfile.akamai.com/21772/wmv/gannett.download.akamai.com/21772/streaming/wmv/1101sniper.asx">The sixth annual International Sniper Competition
Photo slideshow: http://www.militarycity.com/gallery/index.php?id=sniper">Snipers in action