On Target

Baxter, Tennessee --
The ability to shoot accurately is an important part of any law enforcement or military job. For Master Sgt. Todd R. Reed, of the 134th Security Forces Squadron, and retired Staff Sgt. Mark Finney, a security specialist at a U.S. Department of Energy site, shooting isn't just a part of their jobs, it's something they really like to do.

Reed has been shooting competitively since 1997. He and Finney began shooting together in 1998. Finney bought his first rifle while on active duty in the early 90s, but the only competition shooting he did back then was with pistols.

Reed and Finney use what they describe as "very high speed weapons systems" in their shooting matches. They use rifles, scopes, and range finders among other things.

"I've got about $6,000 into these systems," said Reed.

Reed and Finney are very good at what they do. They won the 1999 Adjutant General's Sniper Match. They've participated in various U.S. and world sniper matches. Many of the matches they've competed in in the past included rifle, pistol, machine gun, and sniper competitions. Most of the matches they compete in now just test their rifle and/or pistol skills.

The two shooters recently partnered to compete in the Precision Multigun Spring 2011 Team Match. The match, held May 28 in Baxter, Tenn. just west of Cookeville, was primarily a rifle event.

"If it's a challenge, we like to jump into it with both feet," said Reed. "I enjoyed having Finney as my partner."

The competition was based on four scenarios garnered from real-world military and law enforcement events.

The "Know Your Limits" scenario required the 2-person teams to know their equipment. They had to shoot at 13 different targets of varying sizes and unknown distances in a period of only four minutes.

"Todd did all the ranging, and I did the calculations," said Finney. The distance to each target was estimated based on how much space each target took up in the scope. We then had eight rounds each to shoot the targets. "Once a target was hit, you had to move on."

The next scenario involved a hostage situation on a school bus. Each team had a short amount of time to identify the hostages and the hostiles from a vantage point in the upper level of a barn. Acting as SWAT team snipers, the shooters had to wait to be given the "green light" to shoot. They then had eight seconds to take out the hostiles without shooting any of the hostages.

"Out of 20 teams, we were one of only two teams to score 100 percent on the hostage situation," said Reed.

The final stage of the match combined two scenarios. The first part involved the 2-person sniper team escaping from a compromised sniper position. The second involved them going after a squad of the enemy that had their support team pinned down.

The scenario was based on a real-world incident in the Middle East where some U.S. snipers were killed, said Finney. We then fired the M60 machine gun before using our rifles to go after our "enemies". Once again, we didn't know exact distances, but we had a range card that gave us distances between fixed points on the course to help us estimate the distance to our targets.

The Reed/Finney team placed 5th out of the 20 teams.

"We had some small snafus," said Reed. "We hadn't trained together in a long time."

The organizer of the event plans to hold another match this fall, and Reed and Finney intend to be there. They also expect to do better.

"It was a very fun event," said Finney. We're definitely going back this fall, and we think we can win this thing."

Contact Reed on-base at extension 3274 to learn more about the sport of competitive shooting and to get involved with those on the base who participate.