Army Sergeant First Class Brandon Green arrived at Camp Perry a few days ahead of the rest of his U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) teammates. SFC Green was asked to fire the ceremonial First Shot at the National Matches on July 10, and he wanted a few days, he said, to collect his thoughts and prepare the speech he would give before the hundreds of people who would descend on the grounds to celebrate 116 years of National Matches history.
But he got sidetracked. As he walked across the Petrarca Range parking lot, he stopped to watch men and women compete in the Smallbore Prone Iron Sight Championship and to talk to CMP Smallbore Program Manager Brad Donoho.
“I told Brad it looked fun and said I’ll have to find a rifle,” Green said. “Brad said I’ve got a guy who has an extra rifle. I borrowed a gun and borrowed ammo and had a lot of fun.”
It was an inconspicuous entry for a highly successful soldier. He is a 20-year member of the specially-trained USAMU. He won the Interservice Long Range championships five times, the NRA National Long Range Championships two times, and the Interservice Individual Championship four times.
“His historic 2018 shooting season finished with Brandon earning four individual national records, capturing his first President’s 100 Match win in dramatic fashion. He set a new national record – a perfect score of 400, with a 20 ‘X’ count,” said First Shot Ceremony emcee and CMP Programs Chief, Christie Sewell. “That year he also won his third National Trophy Individual championship and third Mountain Man Trophy, setting a new national record.”
Green won three NRA National Highpower Championship titles, an NRA Long Range Championship, and became the first person in history to win all four individual matches in the series.
“It is an honor for me to be asked to shoot the first shot,” Green said. “As a competitor and throughout our training, we really harp on consistency – consistency in training, consistency in your diet, consistency of your shot execution, your planning of the match – but the absolute most consistent thing for me in coming here to the National Matches at Camp Perry, is that it consistently gets better every year.”
Green was given the opportunity to choose his gun for the ceremonial first shot, so he chose the bolt-action Winchester Model 70 that Director Emeritus of Civilian Marksmanship, Gary Anderson, used in 1972 to set the only perfect 200-yard standing slow-fire score at the National Matches.
The gun’s story begins long before that historic shot.
“This gun plays a special role in the history of marksmanship,” said Anderson, who attended the First Shot Ceremony. “It started as my dad’s rifle and was converted to a match rifle. In 2019, I used it to shoot the first shot, so it’s been here at the First Shot Ceremony a couple times.”
The July 10 First Shot ceremony was attended by hundreds of marksmen, National Matches competitors, and dignitaries in the political, marksmanship and military worlds. Guest speakers were Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09); Congressman Bob Latta (OH-05); Major General John C. Harris Jr., who serves as Ohio’s Adjutant General; and Gerald O’Keefe, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Congressman Latta is a longtime marksman and National Matches competitor who plans to shoot in three matches this year. He said his father first came to Camp Perry for National Guard training, and shooting sports eventually became a family activity.
“It’s important to pass that tradition down to the next generation. I was fortunate to have a dad who was a hunter and a marksman,” Latta said. “Camp Perry is my very favorite place in the world.”
O’Keefe talked about the impact the National Matches’ long history has made on marksmanship, and he said the CMP is committed to carrying that impact into the future. CMP is tying its history and future together in its updated branding, “CMP – the Home of Marksmanship.”
CMP works tirelessly to promote marksmanship through the four pillars of firearms training, safety, competitions and youth programs, and it has ambitious plans to widen the reach of shooting sports across the country. CMP is constructing a modern indoor airgun and smallbore marksmanship center in Columbia, Missouri, and is researching options for establishing a presence in the West.
CMP is embracing technology in its effort to maintain relevance and inspire the next generation of marksmen. It recently purchased two Laser Shot Simulation Systems, has plans to modernize electronic target systems, and is looking into entering the world of Esports.
As CMP carries marksmanship into the future, it will keep one eye on the past. History will always have its place at the modern National Matches, as it did when Green shot Anderson’s Winchester Model 70.
“To shoot it was absolutely a huge honor,” Green said. “I was shooting a piece of history.”
— By Ashley Dugan, CMP Staff Writer
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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