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A master marksman and Arizona Air Guardsman

Rifle butt position secured in shoulder….check. Proper grip and stance….check. Rifle sight aligned with target…...check. Target hit….check. Tech. Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, an RF transmission specialist at the 162nd Wing in Tucson, Ariz., fires an AR-15 down range during the Interservice Rifle Championships held at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, July 2014. (Courtesy of Donnie Hicks)

Rifle butt position secured in shoulder….check. Proper grip and stance….check. Rifle sight aligned with target…...check. Target hit….check. Tech. Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, an RF transmission specialist at the 162nd Wing in Tucson, Ariz., fires an AR-15 down range during the Interservice Rifle Championships held at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, July 2014. (Courtesy of Donnie Hicks)

9/25/2014 -- Tech. Sgt. Daniel Rodriquez's days at the 162nd Wing are filled with arranging frequencies for new equipment and maintaining communications-based systems. When he is not directly engaged in the Air Force global information grid, the Tucson-native focuses on another type of military-inspired endeavor: competitive marksmanship

"I've always had a knack for shooting and when I started shooting competitively, right away I shot an expert score," said Rodriguez.

And for the RF transmissions systems specialist, the delicate art of control-breathing, precise-aiming and proper trigger-squeezing has garnered him national recognition within the marksmanship community.

Back in July, Rodriguez became the top Airman in an individual shooting competition, ranking 17th place overall during the National Trophy Individual Rifle Match and eventually placing 61st out of 1100 marksmen in the President's Match, both in Camp Perry, OH.

The former event - inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt's enthusiasm for marksmanship contests - includes civilian participants, and his placement earned him the right to wear the Presidents Hundred Tab on his ABUs.

Rodriquez said he uses an upgraded barrel along with modified sights to make his AR-15 more accurate while aiming at a target. According to the technical sergeant, the most important aspect of his rifle is the float tube located under the barrel, which makes the firearm a more precise instrument. 

"The firearm looks the same as any other rifle; however, when you pick it up you realize it's much heavier due to the various modifications," explained Rodriguez.  "You can really notice how much more accurate the firearm is when you shoot it."

Rodriguez said that as a child he would often tap into his inner-rifleman when visiting his grandparent's farm, starting with a pellet rifle and then eventually progressing to a .22 caliber rifle.  He would continue his passion for shooting and eventually participated in various marksmanship competitions. 

Rodriguez said he also participates in National Rifle Association High Power Rifle matches, in which he "would shoot standing slow fire at 200 yards, sitting rapid fire at 200 yards, and then do 300 yards of prone rapid fire followed by 600 yards of slow prone fire."

Through these time-honored contests, Rodriguez added he improves his firearm control and technique, attributes that provide the makings to becoming a superior warrior of pin-pointing talent. 

The ability to use a firearm correctly in a time of crisis could be the difference between life and death, depending on the skill or lack of skill an individual may possess, he said. "In the military, it's very important to be able to shoot a firearm effectively, as any given time an Airman may be down range. I think we tend to forget this sometimes." 

At the 162nd Wing, Rodriguez said he would like to see more Airmen get involved in marksmanship competitions as a way to meet other servicemembers and firearm enthusiasts in Arizona. 

"We used to have a very good team and used to win competitions every year and it would be nice to get some Air Guard members together and start winning again," he said.    

Rodriquez is slated to take part in more competitions later this year, continuing to show his marksmanship talents while representing air power on the shooting range.