USAMU Soldier Shoots His Way Into Record Books
First active-duty Soldier in 24 years to win title.
By Michael Molinaro
FORT BENNING, Ga. — The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Pistol team set its sights on the National Pistol Matches when the 2009 shooting schedule came out and that training paid off in a big way, specifically for one Soldier who now calls himself a national champion.
The National Rifle Association and the Civilian Marksmanship Program held their annual National Pistol Championships July 12-19 at Camp Perry, Ohio. Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson swept every major individual award, breaking national records along the way and establishing himself as the standard bearer in service pistol.
“Sgt. 1st Class Henderson accomplished a feat that will undoubtedly be the topic of discussion among shooting circles for the foreseeable future,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, commander, USAMU.
The Soldier’s dominance commenced at the NRA’s Pistol Championship when he won the Harrison Trophy as the top individual with a score of 2646, becoming the first active-duty Soldier to win the national championship in 24 years. He also finished in first-place in the individual .22-caliber and center-fire events.
At the National Trophy Pistol Matches Henderson took it up a notch, winning every event he was entered in and also led his team to a championship.
Henderson began the day winning the President’s Pistol Match, breaking his own record that he set a few days before by scoring 393 out of 400 with 17 bulls-eyes. The record was first broken during a warm-up match July 14 by teammate Staff Sgt. Robert Park II, who scored a 389. Henderson rained on Park’s parade 45 minutes later when he scored a 392 to win the Service Pistol Warm-Up match.
Seven USAMU Soldiers placed in the top ten of the President’s Pistol Match, establishing a tone early that the USAMU was focused and determined to have a great day. Staff Sgt. John Ennis IV placed second and Staff Sgt. Lyman Grover came in third.
Next up was the National Trophy Individual Pistol Match, where Henderson won the General Cluster Trophy for the third time. More incredible, however, is the fact that Henderson set a new national record with a score of 297 out of 300, breaking a record that had stood since 1978. Park and Ennis tied for third place in the event.
Competing in the National Trophy Team Individual match and with a score of 291 out of 300, Henderson won both the Military Police Corps Trophy as the top military service pistol shooter and the General Mellon Trophy as the top pistol shooter in the Army, encompassing all active, reserve and National Guard Soldiers. Ennis placed second in both categories and Park finished third in the Army category.
With all of the points in the National Team and National Individual Trophy matches combined for an aggregate score, Henderson won the U.S. Forces Command Trophy with a score of 586, breaking his own national record he held since 2007. Once again, teammates Ennis and Park came in behind Henderson for second and third place, respectively.
To the shock of no one, Henderson was finally named as the Overall Individual Service Pistol Champion with a score of 981.
“What Sgt. 1st Class Henderson accomplished this season is best left undescribed, as there are no words that can put it in a context that does the feat justice,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason St. John, service pistol team noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “Imagine that never in the history of marksmanship competition that dates over 100 years has anyone done this. No one ever has or probably ever will.”
The crowning achievement for the USAMU was the Blue team winning the Gold Cup Trophy as the National Trophy Pistol Team Match champion. The team was led by Henderson, Park, Ennis and Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski with a score of 1142. It was the third consecutive year that a four-man team from the USAMU won the prestigious award.
With the success of the nationals upholding the unit’s reputation, the service pistol team will return to Fort Benning and set it sights on its most important mission, raising the standards of marksmanship proficiency and enhancing the army’s combat readiness through a slew of close-quarters marksmanship training programs for various Army units.
“SFC Henderson’s accomplishments lend credibility to the Army; they showcase the best of Army Soldier capabilities to the American people,” Hodne remarked. “The USAMU should be viewed by Soldiers, Leaders, and Unit Commanders as relevant for their marksmanship training and weapons research and development needs. We are their resource for training on a variety of invaluable marksmanship courses.”
The USAMU’s mission is to raise the standard of marksmanship proficiency and combat readiness throughout the Army by sharing knowledge gained from competing and winning in national/ international competitions, research and development and advanced training programs while enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort through an active public information and public relations program. For more information on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, contact the Public Affairs Office at (706) 545-5436, [email protected] or www.USAMU.com . The U.S. Practical Shooting Association is a nonprofit membership association affiliated with the International Practical Shooting Confederation, which is comprised of approximately 67 nations.