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Coast Guard mechanic wins Kodiak rifle competition

James Brooks

KODIAK -- Kodiak learned an important lesson last weekend: Don't mess with Brady Post.

The Coast Guard C-130 mechanic and one-year Kodiak resident outshot 27 of Kodiak's best marksmen to win the inaugural Kodiak Precision Rifle Competition.

"I was really surprised," Post said Sunday night during the competition's awards ceremony at Coast Guard Base Kodiak.

Before he hoisted his two-foot trophy, however, he had to run and shoot his way through a tough two-day set of courses set up by Senior Chief Petty Officer Tom Bowes and Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Harris.

Bowes said he spent "hundreds of hours" since November lining up sponsors, competitors and creating events for a weekend of precision shooting.

The "Run and Gun" course at the Salonie Creek Rifle Range was one.

Under Saturday's brilliant sunshine, Harris counted down for competitors: "Ready, ready go," he shouted over and over as competitors, one at a time, took timed shots from a variety of shooting positions standing, sitting, and kneeling with support and without.

Between each position was a 20-yard dash that left shooters with pounding hearts and sweat-streaked backs. Between each shot and there was only one allowed at each position competitors had less than 30 seconds to squash through the range's marshy field and steady themselves for the next round.

Behind the spray-painted starting line, participants peered through spotting scopes as Victor Wyszkowski ran down the field alongside Harris, who carried a stopwatch.

"I haven't done anything like this in a while," said Wyszkowski, who works as an instructor at Kodiak's Naval Special Warfare training center.

That was a sentiment shared by most of the shooters at the weekend's events.

Traditional marksmanship and target practice involves a stationary rest and a stationary shooter. Precision rifle competitions, which are held across the United States, emphasize practical shooting under conditions not normally found at a traditional range.

Many of the Kodiak competitors said they had seen ads for competitions but never had the opportunity to go because of their distance from Kodiak.

Bowes and Harris saw the same thing and decided to do something about it.

"We figured we're up here ... and there's nothing like this," Bowes said.

In addition to the Run and Gun, Bowes and Harris drew up events like the "Heartbreaker," which forced competitors to run up and down a firing line between a can of bullets and a firing position.

The competitors and their weapons were as varied as the events. Coast Guardsmen dominated the field of 28, but civilians also participated, as did a team from the U.S. Navy.

The weapons ranged from Post's brand-new AR-15 to a century-old rifle carried by Kodiak Military History Museum director Dave Ostlund.

"You had your $3,000 rifles out there, all the way down to daddy's hunting rifle," Bowes said.

In all events, precision was key. Chicken eggs were a target in one event. In the Run and Gun, shooters fired at a paper target covered by three printed human heads: one "terrorist" and two "hostages."

Hit the hostages and you lose points. Hit the terrorist target area a triangle no more than four inches wide and you gain points.

"I've felt better on other stages," Wyskowski said, when asked how well he shot the tough target.

On Sunday night, Post had a wide grin as he accepted the award for first prize in the Run and Gun, an honor that helped him win first prize overall.

Post served in a Marine Corps force reconnaissance company until an ankle injury sidelined him in 1995 and he transferred to the Coast Guard.

"It was really neat to go back to the way (that) feels," he said.

Post said he has never participated in a Run and Gun competition or had much opportunity to shoot moving targets -- another event he won -- but he would relish another opportunity.

Whether he will get that chance is questionable. Bowes said he hopes someone else will take charge of next year's events, since he doesn't have the time to do it again.

Regardless of whether the precision rifle competition returns, Bowes said it was worthwhile.

"This was a different door that was opened in their shooting abilities," he said. "They really found their limitations and where they excelled."

Kodiak Daily Mirror