By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
CAMP PERRY, OHIO – -(Ammoland.com)- As it has always been, part of the mission of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is to honor those who prove exceptional abilities during competition with a multitude of awards and recognition.
Thanks to its many opportunities and dedication to youth development, the CMP is proud to recognize the pinning of over 800 young marksmen with Junior Distinguished Badges in the Three-Position Air Rifle program.
Distinguished Badges have been awarded to U.S. citizens exemplary in rifle marksmanship competition since 1884. Since then, the Distinguished Badge program has grown from strictly rifle competitions to pistol and international shooting.
In 1996, a new federal law transferred responsibility of the Distinguished Badge program from the Department of Defense to the Civilian Marksmanship Program. With its new authority over awarding badges, the CMP, in cooperation with the National Three-Position Air Rifle Council, created a new Junior Distinguished Badge in 2001 for Three-Position Air Rifle competition. In the years following, its recipients have gone on to accomplish great things in their careers and lives.
SSG Brandon Green, 29, of Covington, LA, was the recipient of Badge #1 back in 2001. He went on to become a member of the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) Service Rifle team, where he is still competing and currently stationed in Ft. Benning, GA. While in the AMU, Green has collected numerous awards and accolades, including being named Soldier of the Year, as well as the National Rifle Association’s overall Highpower competitor, in 2013. In 2014, Green was named the Overall Individual Service Rifle competitor at CMP’s National Trophy Rifle Matches.
James Hall, 31, of Anniston, AL, followed Green’s lead in 2001 by receiving Badge #2. Hall went on to compete with the Jacksonville State air rifle team – winning three consecutive smallbore titles from 2005-2007. With his excellent background in air rifle competitions, Hall has transformed his career as a competitor into becoming an ambassador of the sport for the next generation – currently serving as the program outreach supervisor for the CMP.
“The Junior Distinguished Badge is not handed to anybody – it is earned,” he said. “I feel that it is not an award that will be packed away with other trophies of youth, but instead will be displayed in daily actions. It takes extensive amounts of practice as well as competing with the best of the nation in quality marksmanship events.”
“I hope that the Junior Distinguished Badge is just a seed planted for the youth to grow into the other avenues of marksmanship,” he added.
Though each and every recipient of the Junior Distinguished Badge is notable, some who have carried their talents on to careers within the sport include past and present AMU marksmen 2LT Matt Rawlings and SPC Joseph Hall, ISSF USA team members Connor Davis and Dempster Christenson, as well as 2012 London Olympian Jonathan Hall.
Within the CMP itself, past Summer Camp staff members Ashley Rose and Ashley Jackson also earned badges of their own, along with full-time CMP employees Katie Harrington, Mike Dickinson and Sarah (Broeker) Hall.
To receive a Junior Distinguished Badge, a junior must place among the top competitors in state, regional and national junior EIC credit events. Once a junior has earned 30 or more points, he or she has earned the honor of being called “Distinguished.” The gold-filled badges are provided by the CMP at no cost and ceremoniously awarded at events, whenever possible.
As one of the first recipients of the award, James Hall has a direct insight into the steps today’s juniors should take in earning a badge of their own. According to him, it demands more than just talent – there must also be a true commitment to competition within the great sport of air rifle.
“What’s great about this sport is that you don’t need a predetermined skill set. Don’t expect to win right away. Practicing is important. Match nerves never go away,” he said. “Competing with good shooters will probably help you more than practicing all by yourself. Competition makes you better. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
He went on to say, “One of the main reasons why I enjoy competing and being around fellow shooters is that we love to talk about our sport. I rarely ever come across another shooter who doesn’t want to encourage competition. A quote I have always favored is by Paul Brown: ‘When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.’ I look forward to seeing new, and old, shooters on the firing line!”
Juniors who earn a minimum of 3 EIC credit points can order a Junior Bronze EIC Badge and juniors who earn a minimum of 15 EIC credit points can order a Junior Silver EIC Badge. The CMP also awards Junior Achievement Award Pins as an incentive and to recognize juniors who attain established score levels in any sanctioned competition sanctioned by the National Council. For more information about the badges and achievement award pins, visit http://thecmp.org/air/junior-distinguished-badge/.
For a full list of recipients of the Junior Distinguished Badge, visit https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=reportDistinguishedShootersByCriteria&filter=distinguished_type&filter_value=AIR.
For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org for more information and program descriptions.