On July 20, for only the third time in the event’s 92-year existence, a civilian team outshot the rest in the National Trophy Infantry Team (NTIT) match. Nicknamed the “Rattle Battle” for the quick strings of rapid fire the match demands, the NTIT hosts civilian, junior and military teams – requiring an astounding amount of concentration and camaraderie for success.

Making history as overall champions of the 2014 match was the Virginia Firearms Education and Marksmanship, Inc. (VFEMI), with a score of 1359. Team members are Alvin Bethel, John Boynton, Clyde Bryant, James Otto, Roman Podshivalov and Gregory Spitzer. The team is coached by David Kozikowski, while Jon Geel serves as Captain. VFEMI is only the third civilian team in the history of the NTIT to earn the overall title.

“To be on the top of the winning civilian list is one thing, but to be on the top of the list over everyone – it’s unbelievable,” said team member John Boynton, 50, of Springfield, VA.

Because of their home location in Virginia, the team has the advantage of being able to practice at the nearby Marine Corps base at Quantico. Now, with their recent win, the team may have to look for new facilities to hone their skills.

“We’re fortunate to have that facility so close. We can’t brag there now or we might get disinvited for beating the Marine Corps team,” said Boynton, jokingly.

The NTIT was first fired in 1922. Previously, only two Civilian teams had won the match: the Nebraska Civilian team in 1930 and the California Grizzlies Junior Team in 2009. Civilians led the competition this year, coming in the top three places.

The “Rattle Battle” is unique to other events because of its emphasis on fast, accurate firing in a team setting. This year, 37 teams fired in the event.

Junior teams also make their ways to the firing line for the NTIT, like the Michigunners, based out of Michigan. The team practices all year for the Rattle Battle match, with the guidance of Lewis Gaddie. According to him, there’s more than just strategy that goes into properly training for the event.

“We want them to have fun, but we want them to do their job,” he said. “They take their shooting very seriously. We try to teach them from their mistakes. But they still have fun.”

His first year helping coach the junior team for the Rattle Battle, Gaddie explains that there’s a definite difference between training juniors rather than adults.

“The maturity level is different. The kids actually listen better than the adults do,” he said, with a laugh. “The adults have a tendency to be a little hardheaded.”

“It’s great seeing the juniors out here,” said John Spickard, 71, of Lebanon, TN, who helped coach the Snake Bit ORSA team in the match.

Spickard is a veteran of the NTIT, having fired in it many times before. This year, he served as coach instead of shooter in order to help cultivate other marksmen for the future of the event and allow others to enjoy the fun and excitement it guarantees.

“I like to let someone else shoot,” he said. “We just want to shoot a good score and have smiles on our faces and have a good time.”

Coming in second place in the match was civilian team Coalinga Killer Rabbits of California, with a score of 1270. Following in third was yet another civilian team, TSRA Gold of Texas, with a score of 1243.

The CA Grizzlies Motherlode led the junior competition, with a score of 1100. Members are Sophie Christensen, Sean Depolo, Andrew Miller, Kasey Nelson, Hollie Swenson and Peter Tidball. The team is led by coach Miles Grove and captain Cheyanne Acebo.

All Guard Gold finishing 5th overall and the top Reserve team earning the Celtic Chieftain Trophy with a score of 1204. Members are MSGT Edward Altmeyer, ARNG, SSG John Coggshall, ARNG, SSgt Leigh Jenks, ANG, CW3 David Kerin, ARNG, SSG Jonathan O’Neal, ARNG and TSft Daniel Rodriguez, ANG. The team is led by coach CW4 Rick Tanner, ARNG, and captain MSgt Garey Diefenderfer, ANG.

For more information on the National Trophy Infantry Team Match and other National Rifle Matches, visit http://www.thecmp.org/NM/Rifle.htm.

Results can be viewed at https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&match=11024. Photos of the match can also be found at cmp1.zenfolio.com/.

Image courtesy Civilian Marksmanship Program

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