CGA takes aim at competitive shooting course

Post written by Petty Officer 1st Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

Combat arms team

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Combat Arms Team. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA1 NyxoLyno Cangemi.

The sound of gunfire could be heard for miles, while each shot echoed through the rolling hills of Harrisville, R.I. On this brisk Saturday morning, teams of law enforcement officers, professionals and amateur shooters alike gathered to compete in the Walls of Steel shooting competition – a firearms course where shooters took aim at a series of steel plates of various shapes and sizes.

Among the teams to assemble this year was the Combat Arms Team from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

Chief Warrant Officer Chad Barber is one of the firearms instructors at the academy and coaches the Combat Arms Team. He said, this type of competition provides future officers opportunities to further their skills.

“The Combat Arms Team is kind of unique in the fact that they’re a year-round sport,” Barber said. “It’s amazing because [the cadets’] training, knowledge and experience grows so rapidly that I use them as additional instructors in the spring for the corps of cadets who are getting ready to graduate and get their commission.”

Cadet Webber fires handgun

Coast Guard Cadet Alex Webber fires a handgun during the Walls of Steel shooting competition at the Wallum Lake Rod and Gun Club. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA1 NyxoLyno Cangemi.

While the Walls of Steel competition was open to anyone, Barber seized the opportunity to turn this public shooting competition into a competitive match between his own cadets. The prize? An open seat at a two-day competitive training course.

Coast Guard Academy cadets Daniel Kubasch and Barton Nanney volunteered to spend their Labor Day weekend at the Sig Sauer Academy’s Introduction to Competitive Three-Gun shooting course in Epping, N.H. With only one seat available to attend the course, the Walls of Steel competition provided an avenue to decide which of the two cadets would go.

“We asked for volunteers, and I thought this would be a good way to choose between the two cadets,” Barber said. “We’re rewarding competition with training.”

In all, the team shot six different courses, comprised of 20 to 30 steel targets in each course. Shooters were judged on several criteria, earning points for speed and accuracy and losing points for making mistakes such as loading too much ammo. In the end, deciding victory in the competition within the corps of cadets came down to the final shooting course.

Cadet Andrew Corwell fires a shotgun

Coast Guard Cadet Andrew Corwell fires a shotgun as he participated in the six-stages during Walls of Steel shooting competition. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA1 NyxoLyno Cangemi.

When the final scores were tallied, Kubasch walked away with the privilege of representing the Coast Guard at the Sig Arms Academy.

“It was a tough shoot,” Kubasch said of the competition with Nanney. “He gave me a run for my money, but I pulled it out in the end.”

As the training officer for the weapons team, Kubasch plans to bring the skills, tactics and knowledge he gains during the training course back to the Coast Guard Academy.

“[The training] will definitely be beneficial for me and the team, and I’ll see where I can take it from there,” Kubasch said.

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