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Hancock Field Firing Team Continued Success at 2010 TAG Match

174th Rifle Team members pose with: Master Sgt. Paul Cowan, Technical Sgt. Christopher Ashley, Senior Airman Tonya Ward and Senior Airman Andrew LaFave Pose with Awards they earned as a team participating in the Annual TAG match held at Camp Smith Peekskill New York. The four person team earned the overall Team Rifle Champion Cup. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Rifle Team members pose with: Master Sgt. Paul Cowan, Technical Sgt. Christopher Ashley, Senior Airman Tonya Ward and Senior Airman Andrew LaFave Pose with Awards they earned as a team participating in the Annual TAG match held at Camp Smith Peekskill New York. The four person team earned the overall Team Rifle Champion Cup. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Rifle Team members pose with: Master Sgt. Paul Cowan, Technical Sgt. Christopher Ashley, Senior Airman Tonya Ward and Senior Airman Andrew LaFave Pose with Awards they earned as a team participating in the Annual TAG match held at Camp Smith Peekskill New York. The four person team earned the overall Team Rifle Champion Cup. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Rifle Team members pose with: Master Sgt. Paul Cowan, Technical Sgt. Christopher Ashley, Senior Airman Tonya Ward and Senior Airman Andrew LaFave Pose with Awards they earned as a team participating in the Annual TAG match held at Camp Smith Peekskill New York. The four person team earned the overall Team Rifle Champion Cup. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James N. Faso II/Released)

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY -- During the weekend of April 17th the Hancock Field Combat Team made their annual trek to the Adjutant General Combat match held at Camp Smith, Peekskill, NY.

The Hancock Field Combat Team consisted of two veterans; Master Sgt. Paul Cowen and Technical Sgt. Chris Ashley along with two rookies; Senior Airman Andrew Lafave and Senior Airman Tonya Ward, with a giant assist from Technical Sgt. Dean W. Grant.

The road the 2010 Hancock Field Combat Team traveled during their journey towards this year's TAG match had many twists and turns, but these five individuals demonstrated all of the qualities that made them a successful team.

Senior Airman Ward is the first female shooter on the Hancock Field Combat Team and even though she was new to this competition she still impressed her veteran teammates with her demeanor. Grant told me how Ward had prepared her rifle on Friday in preparation for the beginning of the match on Saturday, basically sighting the weapon properly. However, prior to the start of the event on Saturday her weapon was inadvertently kicked and the sighting was compromised. According to the rules of the competition a shooter is not allowed to sight the weapon the day of the actual competition.

However, after some pleading from Ashley, Ward was allowed to sight her weapon due to this incident. She was afforded 10 shots after sighting her weapon in order to test the accuracy; Ward took three shots then looked at Ashley and said "I'm good". Grant was impressed by her calmness especially for a first time shooter and encouraged that she would handle herself well in the competition.

The Hancock Field Combat Team placed first in the rifle team category for the fifth consecutive year and second place for the Combined Arms team. This was an incredible achievement considering that the original team captain dropped out of the match and was replaced by a member who had not practiced at all for the competition. This scenario demonstrated the core values of the Hancock Firing Team which are: ability, availability and compatibility.

Grant was originally slated to be the Team Captain as well as participating in the competition; unfortunately bone spurs in his left ankle took him out of the TAG match. Ashley volunteered to fill the vacant spot, but Grant would stay on to facilitate the practices and training.

Compatibility, Grant explained to me is the most important trait that an aspiring shooter needs to have and is the only one that is not negotiable. The other two traits are; availability and ability, while they are important they are a distant second and third to compatibility. Grant further explained to me that the compatibility with your fellow teammates is absolutely essential to firing competition and has been an integral component to the team's run of success. It was that compatibility, which allowed Ashley to fill in for Grant in a moment's notice.

The team practiced each Saturday of the January, February and March Unit Training Assembly from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to prepare for this event. Part of the requirements of competing in the TAG match is that two of the four shooters must be novices, meaning they have never competed in the TAG match before. Even with this limited practice time, two novices and a team captain dropping out at the last minute the Hancock Field Base Firing Team was still able to come out of the 2010 TAG match with an extremely impressive showing.