OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska --
From the time it takes you to read this sentence, the smoke would have already cleared and more than 20 shell casings would be on the ground from Lt. Casey Ryan’s .40 caliber STI Eagle.
The amazing part is how all 20 rounds he shot would have likely hit a book sized target and he would have already ejected the old magazine, loaded a new one and continued firing.
That is why this Defender is on the U. S. Air Force Shooting Team.
“I shoot essentially two different disciplines,” Ryan said. “The action pistol, which is handgun only and I shoot a 3-Gun or ‘multi-gun’ matches.”
During a “major match,” Ryan can fire up to 500 rounds.
“A major match is one that typically takes a full weekend to shoot,” Ryan said. “They usually require travelling to, and shooters come from all over the region or country to shoot it.”
The U. S. Air Force Shooting Team is composed of approximately 90 competitors. Although specific numbers may vary from year-to-year, depending on the demonstrated performance and potential of applicants, each discipline will normally be represented by approximately 10 competitors.
“I was notified in September  that I was selected to be on the team,” Ryan said. “I average a dozen major tournaments that I travel to per year. In Nebraska, there are not as many local matches, so I have not been shooting many matches on the weekends here.”
“I met [Lt. Ryan] when I went to watch a U.S. Practical Shooting Association match last fall,” said Tony Winton, 595th Strategic Communications Squadron Strategic Automated Command and Control System Maintenance chief. “Seeing the Air Force colors proudly represented was awesome and caused my chest to swell in pride. He represents the Air Force well.”
After selection, team members remain assigned to their current duty location and travel periodically to train for and represent the Air Force in national-and international-level competitions. The primary responsibility of the officers, noncommissioned officers, and Airmen, selected as members of the Air Force Shooting Team, is to their unit and its mission. Being on the team is not just about shooting targets though.
“I've used what I've learned through my competitive shooting career to bring back skills, techniques, and most importantly, the reason behind using certain techniques to my own career as a security forces officer and to Defenders in my unit,” Ryan said.
Getting selected for the team is the first of many challenges, he added.
After the selection process, there is classroom training, live-fire weapons training, and head-to-head competitions to select the new shooting team members. Even though the training camps are not mandatory, they are highly encouraged.
“The dedication required to compete at the level Lt Ryan does takes tremendous self-discipline,” said Lt. Col. Ian Dinesen, 55th Security Forces Squadron commander. “With all the responsibilities he holds in his normal Air Force job, Lt. Ryan has already mastered the balance required to do his duties, participate in the shooting team activities all over the country, and continue to spend time doing other off-duty functions, volunteerism and self-development such as education and training.”
“He is well on his way to a truly exceptional career,” Dinesen added.
A team captain for each respective discipline will conduct training camps as needed. A training camp, if conducted, will normally include three to four days of coaching and practice followed by scored, shoulder-to-shoulder competition.
“Action shooting is one of the most extreme tests of marksmanship,” Ryan said. “It is often used as the testing ground for new technology and techniques that eventually make their way into standard equipment and doctrine for the military and police, and eventually the civilian sector.”
Keep in mind that in all cases, the Air Force mission comes first and foremost.
“The Air Force Shooting Team is not a full time position,” Ryan said. “Members are authorized up to 30 days per year of permissive TDY to shoot in an official Air Force Shooting Team capacity.”
Through public contact and association developed during competitions, Air Force shooters play a direct and important role in enhancing the image of the Air Force both at home and abroad. Periodically, Air Force Shooting Team members will be asked to conduct clinics at local clubs, high schools, academies, colleges, and universities.
“I'm thankful that my commander has been supportive,” Ryan said. “He understands that representing the Air Force is a big honor for me. Not to mention, he's not a bad shot himself.”
“Lt Ryan is quite simply a phenomenal officer and a great leader,” Dinesen said. “He sets a wonderful example to my entire organization through his professionalism, dedication to his craft, and all-around excellence in all he does.”
Those interested in joining the Air Force Shooting Team need to understand members normally provide their own equipment, ammunition, and weapons; however, a limited quantity is maintained and made available for use by shooting team members. The Air Force may provide a reasonable amount of ammunition, entry fees, travel, and per diem for approximately 45 competitors to train for and compete in six to eight major competitions per year, culminating in Air Force team tryouts, National Championships, CISM, Pan American, and the Olympics.
Training is accomplished primarily during off-duty time. The shooting season normally spans from February through August time frame. Most competitions are conducted on weekends, which minimizes the time away from primary duties.
Individuals applying for selection to the Air Force Shooting Team for the first time, or for lapses in team membership, will submit an AF Form 303, Request for USAF Specialized Sports Training. Selections will be based on documented performance as contained in the AF Form 303. Individual potential will also be considered in the final team selections.
AF Form 303 may be obtained from the base fitness center and submitted in accordance with AFI 34-207.
A detailed summary of previous competition results must be included with the request, match bulletins or official association (NRA/NSSA) averages/standings will be accepted as the only source for scores.
The AF Form 303 will be forwarded by the base fitness center to AFPC/SVPAF, 2261 Hughes Avenue, Suite 156 Lackland AFB TX 78236-9852.
Team selections will normally be made and individuals notified of their selection or non-selection during the month of December or after the training camp (if held).
NOTE: Adverse Actions: Individuals on the Weight Management Program, the control roster, or whose promotion or reenlistment has been withheld will not be considered.
For more information, visit: http://www.myairforcelife.com/sports/shooting.aspx.