AF Shooting Team makes historic debut

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

Four members of the Air Force Shooting Team broke new ground during the 59th Annual Atlantic Fleet and All Navy (East) Rifle and Pistol Championships here May 15-22, 2021.

Office of Special Investigations Special Agents Robert Davis and Sean Foster; Lt. Col. Mark Gould from the U.S. Space Force, Space and Missile Systems Center and Staff Sgt. Christopher DeForge of the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, formed the first Air Force Team to ever compete in rifle at the event.

The quartet made their presence felt.

They placed third in the Other Service/Civilian Rifle Team Match, edging the Coast Guard by 7 points with a 1,093 – 19X score (Xs are center shots). The Air Force shooters finished fourth overall out of 10 teams.

“There’s always a sense of rivalry when competing against sister-service teams. We always try to show our best to represent the Air Force, especially against other services,” said SA Foster. “As team members, we devote a lot of time and money to compete. Doing well together was important to us and extremely gratifying when the overall results showed us in the top four.”

SA Foster, a member of the Air Force Shooting Team since 2015, whose discipline is high-power rifle, and SA Davis, an Air Force Shooting Team member since 2002, with an international rifle discipline, both earned Navy Marksmanship Expert ribbons for their exceptional performances during the week.

When the competition switched to service pistols, SA Davis met the challenge with help from his dad.   

SA Davis never competed in this type of service pistol match before. But, on his first day he took first place in the Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) match with a 265-3X.

“I was using my late father’s Les Baer Premier II 5” 1911,” SA Davis said. “My father bought this custom (it was a long-desired grail of his) and didn’t even finish the break-in period of 500 rounds before he passed away. I know he would be proud that I’m putting it to good use and winning matches with it.”

This earned SA Davis a significant “leg” that gets him a third of the way towards a distinguished EIC badge for pistol, from the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which is a wearable uniform item. It’s an impressive achievement, given it was his first time attempting this discipline.

“It was incredibly satisfying to earn 10 points out of the gate in my first EIC match,” SA Davis said. “I’ve done extensive pistol work in tactical training scenarios.”

He also credits shooting head-sized steel targets, exposed for only a half second or more, at the *Rogers Shooting School, for paving the way for him to do well in Rapid Fire in the Navy match, where all you have is 10 seconds to shoot five rounds at 25 yards.

“I used to think of myself as a rifle guy, so I’m surprised I’ve become a pistol guy, too,” SA Davis said. “I’d like to think I’m a pretty versatile shooter now.”

There are currently 72 members on the seven active Air Force Shooting Teams. This includes both Primary and Developmental Team members spread out at bases worldwide.

Despite those numbers, SA Davis says it’s unlikely the Air Force Team will make a return trip to this competition.

“It was truly a stars-aligning moment to get four of us from separate discipline teams together at the same match like this,” he explained. “We’re not like the other service teams which usually have dedicated shooters competing as their full-time job. That’s why, when we do get to go, we are sincerely grateful to our supervisors and commanders, who understand and support both marksmanship and the positive representation of the Air Force to the other services and the public.”

*Editor’s Note: The Rogers Shooting School started in the late 1970s, in Ellijay, Ga., to train Navy Seals and elite law enforcement units. It’s recognized worldwide as the most difficult and comprehensive shooting course by any known standard. OSI Special Agents have attended the school, off and on, since 1980.