JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Staff Sgt. Benjamin M. Rodriguez, 11th Security Support Squadron unit deployment manager, won the Top Shot award at the 2018 Air Force Defender Challenge at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas, Sept. 13.
The three-day challenge tested security forces defenders' tactical skills training, team dynamic, physical strength and mental stability through realistic weapons scenarios, combat endurance challenges and more.
“I [competed] to test myself mentally and physically but also to step out of the norm and try something new,” Rodriguez said. ““It showed me how far I had come and also areas that I need to improve on.”
Defenders from major commands, as well as representatives from the German Air Force and the Royal Air Force Regiment of Great Britain competed in the event -- the first one since 2004.
For Rodriguez the challenge was an opportunity to test himself against others, something he’s been doing since he was young.
“Growing up the youngest of six siblings put competitiveness in my blood,” he said. “We did everything from playing sports in the yard to shooting weapons for accuracy. I was one of the best at that.”
He qualified for the challenge by winning one of four spots to represent the Air Force District of Washington during a competition this summer.
“I’m glad I took the opportunity to be able to try something new and test my abilities against other people,” he added.
He returned home from the event with more than a trophy and a title to his name. He said the competition also gave him an experience that he recommends other Airmen consider.
“[This competition] impacted me as a person in a huge way,” he said. “[Airmen shouldn’t] be afraid to [compete]. Even if you fail at it at first, use that as a standard and just get better from there. You will be surprised to see how far you’ve come from where you first started.”