HomeNewsArticle Display

Herk Nation Turkey Shoot: No substitute for ARC experience

189th Airlift Wing wins 2020 Herk Nation Turkey Shoot

Airmen assigned to the 189th Airlift Wing pose for a photo after winning the Herk Nation Turkey Shoot, Nov. 12, 2020, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Originally, the 913th Airlift Group was awarded the trophy, but due to a calculating error, the Guard won the competition. From left to right Maj. Gustavo Garcia (pilot), Capt. Alexander Darby (pilot), Senior Airman John Stanley (mainainer), Maj. Dan Maslowski (navigator), Master Sgt. Shawn Engelstad (loadmaster, Master Sgt. Brandon Harris (maintainer) and Staff Sgt. Jake Shaulis (maintainer). (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jessica Roles)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

On Nov. 12, the 189th, 314th, 19th Airlift Wings and the 913th Airlift Group participated in the annual Turkey Shoot. The event, a demonstration of skills, experience, and tenacity, is a combined effort between air crew and maintainers assigned to each unit. The friendly competition showcases their abilities and knowledge of the aircraft, how they apply it to precision drops and other actions supporting the combat airlift mission. The event promotes an environment of camaraderie while allowing Airmen to test their combat skills in action. The competition lasted throughout the day and concluded with a ceremony and awarded recognition for the winning team.


At the end of the day, points were tallied and the 913th Airlift Group, Team Little Rock’s Air Reserve component took the win and brought home the trophy for all to look upon. The revelry was short-lived however, when a miscount brought astonishing results. As it turned out, the 189 AW won by a hair. Due to the hard work of the wing’s maintainers and a little flawed public math on the active duty side, the Airmen pushed the Guard to the win.


It was a close call. With a 3/100th of a difference between scores, the 913 AG begrudgingly handed the trophy to the 189 AW. The exchange was far from bittersweet however, with the knowledge that the two ARC’s swept their active duty competitors off the board.


“The fact that the National Guard and Reserve placed in the top spots is a testament to our experience and what we bring to the fight,” said Air Force Reserve Maj. Matt Heisel, 327th Airlift Group pilot. “Our highly skilled part-time force can quickly spin up and provide that essential manpower and capabilities when the nation calls.”


With the aircrew dominating the skies, the maintenance groups kept their feet on the ground, demonstrating their quick reaction capabilities. The teams showed off their skills which are vital to the support of the aircrew mission. From fuels to maintenance on every part of the aircraft, the C-130H maintainers brought their A-game to face their active duty and reserve counterparts.


“I’m not surprised that it was a close finish,” said Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Jimmie McDougall, 913th Maintenance Squadron aircraft overhaul leader. “Just from the maintenance events, you can tell the Guard guys have a lot of experience, but we held our own. We’ll crush them next time.”


Overall, the objective of the Turkey Shoot was achieved. Each unit demonstrated their readiness capabilities and ability to adjust to a rapidly changing environment while enhancing individual Airmen’s skills.


“It was a little bit of shock and awe,” said Maj. Dan “MOTO” Maslowski, a 189th Operations Group navigator. “Guard and Reserve units shocked Herk Nation active duty counterparts with the awe-inspiring level of expertise our aviators and maintainers provide every day. Congrats to our ARC brethren for bringing in a strong second. We look forward to defending this win!”