NEWS | Dec. 13, 2016

Army Reserve Civilian Marksmanship Program Championship

By Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Crofoot U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)

The United States Army Reserve (USAR) is always looking for ways to keep Soldiers trained, and the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a way for Soldiers to remain proficient at their marksmanship skills.

The CMP, which was originally the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM), was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act.

The original purpose was to provide civilians an opportunity to learn and practice marksmanship skills so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve in the U.S. military.

From the mid-1950’s until 1968 the USAR Marksmanship Program consisted of a Service Rifle Team, led by Sam Burkhalter, and a Service Pistol Team, led by Lee McKinney. Each year the teams would compete at various levels and the top shooters would form an all USAR team. 

The All-USAR teams would then compete in the National Rifle and Pistol Championships here. They would then disband until the next spring.

The then Chief of the Army Reserve, Maj. Gen. William Sutton was a Distinguished Rifleman. He strongly believed in marksmanship because during World War II he had to deploy cooks, supply personnel, truck drivers, etc. to defend his unit.

He learned it was important for all Soldiers to know how to shoot well. Sutton, and later Chiefs of the Army Reserve, supported the USAR Marksmanship Program well into the late 1980's.  After 1985, there was a major push toward training the USAR troop units, but the various USAR teams and individuals still continued winning their share.

Throughout the years, the program has led to many innovations for the Army. Members of the CMP board have worked with senior leadership to try and figure out ways to keep Soldiers not only competitive in this program, but also, and more importantly, how to stay ahead of the enemy in times of war.

They have also taken strides internally to find new ways to recruit more members. The CMP remains focused on their core belief that everyone should know how to safely and efficiently be able to fire weapons.

The current USAR Marksmanship program has deep roots in the organization, and through the CMP, the Army has now recognized the need to change its training module. Soldiers who now go through marksmanship training are bringing back new techniques learned through the CMP.

The program also sponsors a championship week once a year here. The championships are open to the top individual shooters from all branches of the military and civilians. The championships have various events throughout the week, this year it kicked off with the President’s 100. This is an event where the top 100 shooters from across the country are named. The event required participants to quickly and accurately hit targets from distances ranging from 200 to 600 meters. The participants went through multiple qualifying rounds to determine the final group, who then had a shoot-off to determine an overall winner.

Another highlight from the event was the National Trophy Individual Match. The National Trophy Individual is the largest and most prestigious Service Rifle match in the U. S. and has been a critical component of the National Matches for decades. Other events include the National Trophy Team match, a sniper match, and a team combat readiness match.

Overall the Army Reserve participants showed just how relevant they are, and how well they are trained. The USAR Marksmanship Program (USARMP) was very well represented by its Service Rifle Team garnering a number of significant wins. There were three top twenty USARMP finishers in the President’s 100, to include two that made their first appearance in this competition. Master Sgt. Robert Mango also took overall first place in the President’s 100.

Mango also took first place in the National Trophy Individual Match, first place in the National Trophy Team match, and the highest overall score in the National Trophy Team match.

Beside Mango, there were also three other U.S.A.R Soldiers to finish in the overall top ten of the NTI Match. Sgt. Nickolaus Mowrer finished second, Capt. Samuel Freeman and Sgt. Joseph Hall taking fifth and sixth, respectively. The USAR team also swept the reserve portion of the NTI Match taking nine of the top ten and thirteen of the top fourteen.

The team brought together Reserve Soldiers with a range of jobs, from finance brigades to drill sergeants. Soldiers represented all parts of the United States; from Hawaii to Colorado, and as far East as North Carolina and many states in between.  These Soldiers now have the opportunity to go home and teach their peers the new techniques they learned.

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