Snipers from around the world tested their skills last week in intense events meant to look, feel and sound like combat.

The U.S. Army Special Operations Command International Sniper Competition had 21 teams moving and shooting through a series of events designed to push competitors in their sniper and reconnaissance tactical skills.

Teams from the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard also competed in the event March 17-22 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But in the end it was the soldiers who won the top awards.

The top two places went to snipers from USASOC. The Marine Corps team came in third.

The teams represented these organizations:

  • 1st, 3rd, 7th, 10th, 19th, and 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  • 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Marine Corps Special Operations Forces Advanced Sniper Course
  • Marine Corps Scout Sniper
  • Naval Special Warfare
  • Unites States Coast Guard
  • 1st Premier Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine, France
  • Kommando Spezialkräfte, Germany
  • Army Ranger Wing, Ireland
  • 9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment, Italy
  • International Special Training Center

The shooters competed with their own sniper rifles, firing either 7.62 mm or 5.56 mm, their own carbines with 5.56 mm, and their own pistols in a variety of calibers.

They not only competed against each other and but against time limits, from four to eight minutes per event, with a limited quantity of ammo. The events change each year of the competition, each one designed by instructors from the Special Forces Sniper Course.

The instructors from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School designed the events to challenge two-person teams in their ability to work together, and test their speed and accuracy in various types of environments.

The focus this year, in the 10th competition, was mental agility in real-world tactical applications, according to an Army release.

“This year we wanted to focus on bringing guys in who may shoot competitively on the side but the core tasks would revolve around real-world application," said Master Sgt. Josh, a Special Forces Sniper Course instructor identified in the release only by his first name and rank. “We used sounds, artillery simulators, and bunkers to induce chaos and make them think through things.”

The winners:

  • 1st place: USASOC
  • 2nd place: USASOC
  • 3rd place: Marine Corps Scout Sniper

Kathleen Curthoys is editor of Army Times. She has been an editor at Military Times for 20 years, covering issues that affect service members. She previously worked as an editor and staff writer at newspapers in Columbus, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; Bloomington, Indiana; Monterey, California and in Germany.

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