A sniper team from Slovenia, Team Lynx 01, won the 2021 European Best Sniper Team Competition. The competition was hosted by the U.S. Army Europe and Africa and the 7th Army Training Command at the Hohenfels Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany.

There were 27 teams from 14 countries including three teams from the United States participated in the 10-day-long event which concluded on Friday evening. The three U.S. teams were from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade based out of Vicenza, Italy, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment based out of Germany, and the 161st Infantry Regiment from the Washington Army National Guard. 

The 2020 competition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Mental, Physical, and Emotional Challenge

Command Sergeant Major Michael Sanchez told the Army Times that the competition is designed to test the mental, physical, and emotional endurance of the teams in addition to their sniper skills on the range.

Greece European Best Sniper Team Competition
Greek snipers moving under cover of smoke and tear gas, engage targets on the move during the competition. (Hohenfels Joint Multinational Readiness Center)

The sniper teams must be able to successfully negotiate several tactical and technical skills, Sanchez said. These include field firing, advanced marksmanship, fieldcraft, team communication, sidearm shooting, and land navigation.

The European Best Sniper Team Competition includes both day and night shooting, including a “1917” training lane where teams crawl through muddy trenches before they don their gas masks after live CS (tear gas) is used. They then race through the smoke into the open while firing at targets.

In homage to Delta Force operators and posthumous Medal of Honor awardees Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, one part of the shooting competition is called “Mogadishu” where the sniper teams must engage targets from a downed helicopter. 

SP4 Matthew Meckley, from 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, told Stars and Stripes that “the [number] of skillsets we learn experiencing these events are quite useful for how we shape training in the future.”

A video from the competition can be seen here

Interoperability Is More Than Communication

Slovenia’s, Team Lynx 01 won the competition with 2,237 out of 5,044 total points. A sniper team from Turkey took second place, while a team from Latvia came in third.

Other countries that competed were the U.S., Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Sweden.

Sanchez said that the event wasn’t just about competing against each other. Rather, it was also about the interoperability and building of relationships between NATO countries and other friendly nations.

He and his U.S. and Latvian joint team of instructors designed a tough, one-of-a-kind training experience for the international sniper teams.

“It’s a very challenging piece for any commander or senior enlisted leader… [to arrange] specific training for [snipers] because you can’t just throw a training event for just a handful of individuals,” Sanchez said. “We owe it to commanders to come up and help them produce training environments to maximize all of their platforms that they have at their disposal.”

European Best Sniper Team Competition
U.S. Army snipers fire from a downed helicopter during the European Best Sniper Team Competition. (U.S. Army)

“When we talk about interoperability, we’re not just talking about communications processes,” Sanchez said. “We’re talking about [bringing together] the different capabilities that those [snipers] provide with their specific teams and skillsets, and then look at the similarities we have so that we can combine total lethality across the force.”

“At the end of the day, [the competition] brings esprit de corps, trust, and a complete shared understanding,” Sanchez added.