Special Forces Soldiers win international sniper competition
By Reginald Rogers
||Photo by John D. Helms/Fort Benning, Ga.
Sergeants 1st Class Chance Giannelli, left, and Edward Homeyer, both Special Forces Sniper School instructors assigned to the 1st Special Warfare Training Group here, outlasted numerous other teams to earn the first place overall and in the service category at the annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga. Oct. 11 through 14.
For Sergeants 1st Class Chance Giannelli and Edward Homeyer, it was understood — teamwork was the key to being the best.
After the gun smoke had cleared, 72 hours and 14 events later, they were recognized as the world’s best sniper team.
Giannelli and Homeyer, both sniper school instructors assigned to the 1st Special Warfare Training Group here, outlasted other teams to earn first place overall and in the service category at the annual International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.
The competition took place Oct. 11 through 14 and included 32, top-level sniper teams from around the world. Notable teams included, the U.S. Marine Corps Scout snipers, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Air Force and the FBI, which was one of three law enforcement agencies.
“It was an awesome event,” said Giannelli, a Richmond, Maine native. “It was the epitome of the sniper competition. Every different country sends their best. It felt great to actually win the event.”
He explained that the competition began at 10:30 p.m., Oct. 11 and ran continuously until 3 p.m., Oct. 14. The teams only received two, four-hour, breaks during the 72-hour event.
The competition included several challenging events, including a stress test that was designed to simulate what the team may face in combat.
The added stress and fatigue factors added a new level to the competition not seen in past years, explained Master Sgt. Michael Snyder, officer-in-charge of the U.S. Army Sniper School, which hosted the event.
“(In combat) they are going to be tired, getting little sleep and still be expected to do one mission after another,” he said. “We are getting more combat-focused.”
Giannelli explained that each team was required to fire at targets located at a distance of 600 and 1,000 meters, before gradually making their way back to the finishing point.
“We started at the 1,000-meter line and had 45 seconds to run to the 800-meter and fire, before going to the 700-meter mark,” he said. From the 700-meter mark, Giannelli explained that they were required to fire from a partner-assisted posture, which could mean using your partner’s back to steady the shot.
“After that, we had 45 seconds to get to the 600-meter line, while carrying a 200-pound casualty, only to stop and take a shot while kneeling,” he continued. “From there, we had to simulate carrying a 200-pound casualty on a litter to the 500-meter mark.”
Giannelli said that was one of the most challenging phases of the competition, but he admitted that it helps when you have a highly skilled partner.
“(Homeyer) is a well-rounded shooter,” he said. “I was glad to have him as a partner.”
Homeyer remained humble, despite his partner’s compliments.
“He’s a good man,” Homeyer said. “He gives me more credit than I deserve.”
He attributed their victory to the quality training they received weeks before the competition.
“Chance and I work well together and we went down and trained with Todd Hoddnett, who operates Accuracy 1st, down in Texas. We trained for about two weeks, two months ago and we were actually alternates in this event, but we ended up competing,” explained Homeyer, who’s a native of George West, Texas.
He said that because they are both instructors, finding time to train was challenging.
“We had students, but we had to train when we could,” he added.
Accuracy 1st is a premier, long-range shooting school for special operations and Marine Corps snipers and the training they received in Texas was critical to propelling them to the top of the competition, Homeyer pointed out.
“It was great training with Todd,” he said. “He actually trained the top three teams in the open and service class of the competition.”
One of the new events at the competition was called the Loop Hole. That event Oct. 12, tested the snipers ability to shoot from a third-story rafter, through a three-inch hole and strike a target 150 meters away.
As for being successful in the stress shoot event of the competition, Homeyer, the team’s primary shooter, gave credit to his spotter for his expertise.
“Chance was on the ball,” he said. “He got every item. He was able to retain enough information and answer the questions that put us over the top.”
Homeyer explained that one of the final events required both men to shoot at a target that measured 11.5 inches by 20.5 inches from a significant distance. He said they both hit their targets to move their team 66 points ahead of the next closest team.
“It felt pretty good, it’s really nice to go and test yourself,” Homeyer said. “It’s a testament to our training and the school. On that day, we were the best, but competition was close. We could go out and do it again and someone else could win.”