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Fort Bliss holds Iron sides sniper competition

Fort Bliss holds Iron sides sniper...

A group of Fort Bliss soldiers will be testing their skills over the next few days.

The 1st Armored Division is holding it's annual sniper competition.

The competition tests the soldiers precise shooting and physical abilities.

The 1st Armored Division 'Iron Sniper Competition' is four days long.

The soldiers are put in unfavorable conditions and the best team will move on to compete on a national level.

Snipers of the 1st Armored Division arrive to the competition site fully equipped.

"Our primary mission is to provide long range fires," said Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Watkins.

Watkins says a sniper's skill isn't just about shooting.

"We can be used in many different ways," Watkins said.

Snipers can also be the eyes of a moving army.

"To provide information and intelligence to the commander," Watkins told ABC-7.

The four- day competition is meant to test beyond what a sniper is capable of.

"The competition is consistent of long range shooting and we have some physical events," Watkins said.

Soldiers run several miles packed with their full gear while having to mentally process information, distances and targets.

"You have people that are stronger on the physical events while others are stronger in the shooting events," Lt. Shaun Douville said.

If chosen, snipers in training will attend a dedicated sniper school that requires 2 months long of their time.

Douville says for most the skill is a career-long pursuit.

"We have some shooters here that have been sniper qualified for six or seven years," Douville said.

For some soldiers it's not about the competition or the qualifications ... it's about protecting fellow soldiers.

"For me it's about the opportunity to be on that high ground and over watching other soldiers movements, I'm protecting them," Watkins said.

Those who qualify will move on to the International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia at the end of this year.

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