'); } -->
A California National Guardsman needed an extra suitcase to haul away the hardware he collected at this years U.S. Army Small Arms Championship.
Sgt. 1st Class Geoffrey Applegate won the overall individual championship, ending the reign of the competitions four-time defending champion and putting an exclamation point on an outstanding two-week run at the All-Army.
I am still a bit overwhelmed, said Applegate, an infantryman with the 184th Infantry Regiment. I love this competition. I have a competitive spirit its what I love to do and to win here at the All-Army is awesome.
A railroad conductor/engineer who lives in Weed, Calif., this was Applegates third time at the All-Army.
He improved on his 17th-place finish in 2012 to get his name engraved on the champions trophy.
In addition to Applegates overall championship, he and members of Team California claimed the overall team championship.
He also earned the coveted Distinguished Riflemans Badge, the open class title and was the combined arms match individual winner.
Among the items he was awarded for his strong showing was a Secretary of the Army M-1 Garand Trophy Rifle.
Army Reservists Sgt. 1st Class John Buol and Master Sgt. Russell Moore took second and third place, respectively. Moore came into the match as the reigning four-time champion. He won the overall pistol individual championship.
It doesnt matter how many times I come here I always learn a lot, Applegate said. When you get to train and shoot against Soldiers like (Master) Sgt. Moore, whose name is on those trophies since he was a staff sergeant and is an amazing shot, you are going to learn something.
Spc. Nicholas Girardin, Maine National Guard, won the novice class overall individual championship.
More than half of the field competed in the novice class of shooters.
The competition was originally structured to influence novice shooters the chance to gain invaluable marksmanship training in an effort to enhance the coverall combat readiness of the Army, which still holds true today.
I learned so much in these two weeks and had a lot of fun, Girardin said, a computer detection systems repairman with the 152nd Maintenance Company. I loved the combined arms match since we never get to do that sort of thing. I met a lot of people who gave me advice. My marksmanship got a lot better in just these two weeks.
The matches at the championship were designed to raise the shooting proficiency of Soldiers and units across the Army by teaching advanced combat marksmanship techniques using issue rifles and pistols. Soldiers shot in several pistol, rifle matches and a combined arms match to test their capabilities against their peers.
Weather played into the event, as Soldiers dealt with cold mornings, unseasonably warm days and one day when Mother Nature tested everyones mettle with a torrential rain storm.
It rains in wars, so it just made things realistic, Applegate said.
Theres no better training aid for shooting than All-Army. You get the best shooters, a whole range of shooters, and you can pull from so many. Its a friendly competition but its serious business when we get on the line.