After the 162nd Wing shooting team went into a year and a half hiatus due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the team is back up and running and looking to make its mark.
Capt. Jaminh Vo, a maintenance officer with the 162nd Wing, leads the wing’s 15-member pistol team. Ten of the team’s members joined after the last tryout, but Vo is eager to recruit more.
“There is definitely a wide variety of ranks, AFSCs, and skill levels on the team,” said Vo. “We have guys from security forces, LRS, 214th [Attack Group], ops, maintenance.”
For those who are interested but hesitant, Vo assures that all wing members are welcome to join. Vo said that he was a casual shooter just two years ago, but that changed when he was approached by two other officers who invited him to compete.
“They brought me out to a match, it was a Steel Challenge Match, and after that first match, I was hooked,” said Vo. “You know, getting out there and having a goal to strive for and compete against other people gave me drive.”
Vo acknowledged that the cost of shooting sports could be an obstacle for some. However, he said that wing members could take advantage of the sport in an official capacity.
“It counts as a work day for wing members who are doing [shooting matches]. So, you can take AT days, make-up drills,” said Vo. “For AGR you can do a permissive TDY to these locations when we are going out of state or out of town. So, it’s not necessarily on [members’] dime.”
Vo said that in addition to supporting the team with time for competitions, the wing supplies a portion of ammunition for shooting practice.
“The biggest benefit is that the shooting team is allocated ammunition, which is probably the biggest cost for anyone. If you’re an avid shooter, you understand that ammo prices have gone up, so being able to get out and train is getting more and more expensive,” said Vo. “But the wing shooting team is allocated ammunition. That’s the biggest cost savings to the guys.”
Besides practicing the sport, Vo says that joining the shooting team is also an opportunity for camaraderie.
“I don’t want to say it’s just to bring home trophies, because a big benefit I see is whenever I go to these matches, is meeting other service members who really enjoy seeing us out there. Whether they’re retirees or current service members it’s a chance to network,” said Vo.
Vo added that in addition to socializing, he has used his participation on the team as a way to network and recruit for the wing.
“There are guys who have been interested in joining the wing after meeting them. I’ve met Airmen, I’ve met Marines who, because they’re involved with shooting, it was kind of a connection for us to talk,” said Vo.
Vo added that he has seen benefits to being on the team that goes beyond the range. He described that when it comes to owning and carrying firearms, he feels more prepared.
“Competitive shooting in general has given me more confidence in everyday carry for myself,” said Vo. “If I have to perform in a real life scenario, I’m extremely confident in my abilities to handle that weapon and make good decisions.”