ARPC officer shooting for success at interservice pistol competition

  • Published
  • By Mike Molina
  • Editor
When Col. Mark Teskey began target shooting as a boy scout at age 12, he didn't know it would lead to competition against some of the world's best marksmen. 

Colonel Teskey, the Staff Judge Advocate at the Air Reserve Personnel Center here, is captain and one of nine current members of the Air Force National Pistol Team preparing to compete at the 2008 Interservice Pistol Championships June 6-13 in Fort Benning, Ga. 

"I enjoy representing the Air Force and helping pull the team together and leading it," Colonel Teskey said. "It's a responsibility, but one that brings a lot of satisfaction. I take great satisfaction in seeing everyone succeed." 

While stationed in Qatar in 2004, Colonel Teskey participated with other U.S. armed forces in an international shooting competition hosted by the Qatari military. It was there he became "hooked" on the mental challenge of the bullseye pistol discipline, where participants shoot handguns at paper targets at fixed distances and time limits. 

"I've always enjoyed the mental aspect of the challenge - getting in the zone," Colonel Teskey said. "Ninety percent of this sport is mental. If you're not focused on the right thing, you're not going to shoot well. If you believe you can shoot an 'X' in your mind, you usually will." 

After returning from deployment, he continued to train, and in June 2006 was accepted as a member of the Air Force National Pistol Team. 

Team members come from across the Air Force and remain assigned to their current duty station, performing their mission-essential duties. The Army and Marine Corps teams are comprised of individuals assigned to the unit solely to shoot for their service and train marksmanship. Shooting is their full-time job. 

Unlike the other services' shooting teams, Air Force team members train, practice, and compete mostly on their own time and money while still responsible to their unit and its mission. 

"One of the best parts of being on the Air Force team is I get to represent ARPC," he said. "At competitions, you get people from all different walks of life. I represent what we do." 

When he isn't at ARPC serving as the center's top legal counsel, Colonel Teskey is training year-round toward perfection. 

On a typical day of training, he practices for one to two hours. Sometimes with an air pistol in his garage, some days spending 40 to 50 minutes of dry firing (squeezing the trigger of an unloaded pistol), and performing countless hold drills where he holds his arm and pistol in a shooting position to strengthen the muscles needed to shoot. 

All courses of bullseye competition are fired from a standing position at 25 and 50 yards, using a one-handed grip. Targets have point values, with 10 points for a bullseye. 

"You have things you work on, and you train so you can reproduce a 10 every time," he said. "If you focus on executing the shot, you will probably wind up shooting 10s." 

He also exercises five to six times a week. Fitness is a critical, but sometimes overlooked, element of successful shooting, Colonel Teskey said. 

"A day of shooting can be fairly physically and mentally taxing," he said. "If you're not in shape, you can't do your best." 

Colonel Teskey said he is hoping the hard work will pay off when the team competes against the other services in June. 

"My goal is to help the National Pistol Team win the .22 Team Trophy and the Service Pistol Trophies at Interservice and the Nationals," he said. "But it's going to be kind of tough. We compete against the Army and Marines who do this as their full-time job." 

But it isn't just about winning trophies and accolades. 

"It's about self-improvement and leadership," Colonel Teskey said. "For me, the only one I'm besting is myself."