Army Sgt. Camille Kleparek was one of two women selected to compete alongside about 50 other reservists at this year’s national competition at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.
Kleparek — a member of the 191st Army Band based out of Camp Parks — won the regional competition at Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey in March, advancing her to the national level.
“Originally, I was very nervous about it,” she said. “I was worried I would not perform well, but it didn’t turn out that way. It ended up a heck of a lot of fun.”
During the four-day competition, Kleparek was challenged in a series of events that tested all levels of her military training.
One of her favorite events was the shooting skills competition, Kleparek said.
She shot three weapons —
a 9 mm handgun, an M-4 rifle and an M-249 light machine gun — at pop-up targets on a firing range.
The key, she said, was to make a split-second decision to shoot or not shoot, because some of the targets depicted noncombative people, while others were gunmen.
“They would pop up for a few seconds and then go back down,” Kleparek said. “I enjoyed firing weapons, because it’s something I’m pretty good at. I’ve maintained expert status on the rifle, hitting 36 (targets) out of 40 or better. I average 36.”
One of the more difficult tests was a 10-kilometer road march, to be completed within two hours while carrying 80 pounds of equipment.
“I did not finish it,” she said. “One soldier collapsed 15 feet from the finish line and had to be hospitalized.”
The 30-year-old said being a woman was almost a “nonissue.”
“I was just treated as another soldier,” she said. “I found it to be a positive experience.”
She also competed in first aid, radio operation and a navigation test that required soldiers to navigate terrain during a 22-hour period. Overall, Kleparek said the experience was gratifying.
“Now that I’ve done it, I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I loved the camaraderie I learned there, and it’s something I hope to do again next year.”
Kleparek moved to Tracy in 2012 and joined the Army Reserves that same year, after serving seven years as a member of the National Guard in Utah. She is married to David Kleparek, and together they have two children, Tayla, 4, and Liam, 2.