Pfc. James Pierce, Sgt. Oswald Sanchez fires a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon while Spc. Casey Carney feeds rounds and Staff Sgt. Thomas Cinkovich judges their performance during The Adjutant General’s shooting match in Hawthorne on Sunday.

Pfc. James Pierce,
Sgt. Oswald Sanchez fires a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon while Spc. Casey Carney feeds rounds and Staff Sgt. Thomas Cinkovich judges their performance during The Adjutant General’s shooting match in Hawthorne on Sunday.

By winning The Adjutant’s General marksmanship contest here at the Hawthorne Army Depot Freedom Range on Sunday, Aug. 21, Lt. Robert Hoffman forever dispelled the notion that one needs to be seasoned veteran shooter to enjoy success in the annual event that determines the top 20 National Guard marksmen in the state.

Participating in his first TAG match, Hoffman, 29, the commander of the 240th Engineers headquartered in North Las Vegas, led from start to finish first among the field of 92 of the state’s top-shooting Soldiers and Airmen. The top-20 finishers in the contest earned Governors Twenty tabs denoting the Silver State’s top Guard marksmen.

Hoffman cumulatively scored 771 points in the four events contested over three days and finished 26 points ahead of silver-medalist (Air Force) Master Sgt. Eric Howe, who was one of three Airmen entered in the match.

Hoffman, who has been in the Nevada Army Guard for seven years, said he had modest goals upon entering his first TAG marksmanship contest.

“Honestly, my goal was to finish in the top half of the field,” said Hoffman, a Las Vegas resident. “After I did well in the pistol events, my goal changed to earning a Governors Twenty tab.”

Although he doesn’t own a pistol, Hoffman took the lead in the first event contested, the pistol reflexive fire competition. By the time the second day’s disciplines were finished – the pistol reflexive fire and the rifle excellence in competition events – Hoffman had a 501-488 lead over Howe.

Hoffman then scored a perfect 270 in the rifle reflexive fire event to eliminate any chance of a competitor overtaking the rookie shooter.

“Even though I was first throughout, I never felt comfortable,” Hoffman said. “I was surprised with my pistol results because I only had one day to practice. The sergeants in my unit really helped me with their advice and pointers.”

Howe, 46, of Sparks, was satisfied with his second-place finish after falling to 24th place in 2014. He previously was in the top-20 in 2012 and 2013.

“I choked in one match last year and fell in the standings,” said Howe, an Airmen in the 152nd Communications Flight in Reno. “That’s what happens when you are not consistent in every event.”

Spc. Ryan Magera, 21, of L Troop, 1-221st Cavalry, headquartered in Yerington, earned third place with 728 points. Staff Sgt. Adam Dubois of the 277th Engineer Haul Platoon was fourth (722 points) and Sgt. Oswald Sanchez of K Troop, 1-221st Cavalry, was fifth (711).

Defending champion Staff Sgt. Frank Nash of the 421st Regional Training Institute could only muster sixth place this year with his 691 points, 21 less than his 2014 total.

Other notable results included:

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Roger Capps finished 16th with 634 points despite competing with chronic injuries stemming from being shot while piloting a helicopter in Afghanistan in 2013

One of the oldest competitors in the contest, Staff Sgt. Richard Rohweder of 1/189th Aviation, secured yet another Governors Tab by the slimmest of margins. The 52-year-old from Winnemucca scored 624 points for 20th place.

All Nevada Guard Airmen and Soldiers are eligible to compete for the Governors Twenty tab. For information, call Master Sgt. Michael Eaton at (775) 886-7378.