August 30th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Collins Earns Distinguished Badge No. 2500

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
William “Tom” Collins earned the CMP’s Distinguished Rifleman Badge #2500 this July. Collins earned his final EIC points at the Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club in Michigan.

One of the highest honors in competitive shooting is earning the Distinguished Rifleman Badge. This Badge was created by the War Department in 1884 to recognize members of the U.S. Army for Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) with the Army’s service rifle. Other U.S. Armed Forces soon adopted a similar program and in 1926 civilians were authorized to participate. This story is about William “Tom” Collins, 50, of Maumee, Ohio, who earned his badge in July 2020. His achievement was a landmark — Civilian Distinguished Rifleman Badge number 2500.

Collins Earns Distinguished Rifleman Badge Number 2500

Story based on Report by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Staff Writer
For over 20 years, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has issued Distinguished Badges to competitors who collect at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points — earned by placing in the top 10% of an EIC match. This story is about Ohio shooter William “Tom” Collins, who recently earned Distinguished Rifleman Badge number 2500. [Editor: To learn more about the history of the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and what is takes to earn it, read Distinguished Rifleman — the Chase for Excellence by Jonathan Ocab.]

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

For Collins, this fulfilled a dream to join generations of elite marksmen before him. “The Distinguished Rifleman Badge has been a goal of mine since I learned about it,” Collins said. “I like to think back on the history of the badge … It makes me proud to be a part of that.”

Collins earned Distinguished Rifleman Badge #2500 in July. “Shooting is almost like meditation to me”, Collins said. “You really can’t think about anything other than the current shot. It’s very relaxing.”

He gives simple advice to other competitors hoping to one day earn a Distinguished Badge of their own: “Anyone working on it – quit thinking about it. Just shoot.”

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
Collins is congratulated by his friend Jamie Root after “going Distinguished”.

Collins has been shooting most of his life. Growing up in rural Ohio, he received his first BB gun around seven years old and his first .22 at age 11. It wasn’t until he joined the Army Reserves in 1987 that he received any formal marksmanship training. After he left the Reserves nine years later, he started looking toward organized shooting sports.

One day, back in 2014, he picked up his rifle and took the 45-minute drive to Fremont, Ohio, to fire in his first GSM (Garand-Springfield-Modern/Vintage Military) Match at the Sandusky County Sportsmen’s Club. It was there that he met Jesse Bragg, who was running the event.

Jesse Bragg, a retired staff sergeant from the Marine Corps Reserve Rifle Team, took Collins under his wing and showed him the ropes. Collins says Bragg seemed to want to teach more than run the match. In fact, Bragg was the one who introduced Collins to the idea of pursuing a Distinguished Badge. Collins admits that he had no clue what “going distinguished” meant. Bragg went over the terms – legging out, finishing “first leather” and other related expressions.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
Photo courtesy photographer Jonathan Ocab, who himself earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

In 2015, Collins went to the National Matches at nearby Camp Perry, Ohio, and fired in his first President’s Rifle Match. Watching the elite shooters take their final shots inspired Collins: “Learning about the Distinguished Badge, learning about the President’s Match — I just knew that I had to get this Distinguished Badge on my way to, hopefully, getting into the President’s 100 or even the Top 20.” So Collins began traveling to GSMM competitions with his match rifle in tow, just to get in a little extra practice. It became his main focus. In June 2019, he earned his first set of six leg points at the CMP Viale Range 800 Aggregate and EIC Service Rifle Match at Camp Perry. It was a breakthrough.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

When I first started, I was shooting the Garand and the M1A. [But] once I realized I wanted to get my Distinguished Badge, I said, “None of the wood guns. It’s all my match rifle until I go Distinguished”.

He went on to earn eight points at his next match in July, followed by eight more in August. With one more match left in 2019 and only seven points away from the required 30 to earn a badge, his goal was within sight. But it wasn’t until the EIC match at the Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in July 2020 that he was able to conquer his nerves and earn his final points: “The most rewarding thing – it’s when you get there. When you finally earn it, everybody knows it. Everybody at the range celebrates with you. All of your friends are there with you. It’s just rewarding in itself. You’re part of that tradition that spans three centuries.”

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio

Friendships Made on the Road to Distinguished
More so than the time, effort, and skill it took to earn the badge, the journey to become Distinguished was almost as rewarding as the badge itself for Collins, given the relationships he’s made along the way:

“These guys I’ve met and hung out with — we’ve given jobs to each other, we celebrate each other’s birthdays, we know each other’s families. It’s just been a great group of guys. You always are rooting for your friends, regardless of how well you’re doing. If you’re doing bad, you root for them even more.”

Distinguished Badge-Earning Marksmen Will Be Honored in 2021 at Camp Perry
Part of the tradition of earning a Distinguished Badge is walking across the stage at Camp Perry during the National Matches award ceremony. There, badge winners are formally pinned by their peers on a stage that has felt the footsteps of prominent marksmen for over a century.

“Last year, when I got the first points, I told myself, ‘I’m going to walk this stage at Perry next year'”. Collins and all others who earned a Distinguished Badge in 2019 or 2020 will still have the opportunity to take the stage next year at the 2021 National Matches — and that’s just what Collins plans to do.

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June 21st, 2017

Tech Nightmare: CMP Electronic Target Problem at Camp Perry

KTS Electronic Targets failure Camp Perry Excellence Competition EIC

By Steve Cooper, CMP North General Manager & Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
In disappointing fashion to all involved, the CMP [cancelled] its June 17 Excellence-In-Competition match when significant damage was done to the target system following the successful completion of standing and rapid-fire sitting stages at 200 yards by nearly 100 competitors.

KTS Electronic Targets failure Camp Perry Excellence Competition EIC
Nearly 100 competitors took to the firing line on Viale Range for Saturday’s EIC Rifle Match.

The CMP EIC match was the historic debut of the latest in scoring technology on the “big” ranges at the 101-year-old Ohio National Guard training site near Port Clinton. The match fired on Viale Range was a fill-in for a previously cancelled Ohio Rifle & Pistol Association event. CMP is in its second year of operating 10 electronic target lanes at 100 yards for rifle and five lanes for pistol at Camp Perry’s Petrarca Range. CMP also operates two 80-point electronic indoor airgun ranges at Camp Perry and Anniston, AL, respectively.

During the changeover from 200 to 300 yards at the Saturday event, multiple targets were damaged when newly-trained CMP target workers accidentally strained or tore several interconnecting cables on the target line while raising and lowering target carriers. Diagnostics showed several targets were showing errors, but CMP technicians believed many targets could be salvaged and some were repaired.

The loss cut the range from 35 to 19 serviceable targets. CMP staff and competitors agreed to shrink the size of the range, re-squadding shooters into more relays on the remaining working targets. After repairs were made, firing continued with the prone rapid-fire stage at 300 yards. When firing was complete, a handful of shooters received inconsistent information on their monitors. A re-fire was conducted for that group and many of the re-fire group still reported target errors.

KTS Electronic Targets failure Camp Perry Excellence Competition EIC
Members of CMP staff convene to discuss abnormalities during the 300-yard prone rapid-fire stage of the EIC Rifle Match. Moments later, the match was called off after it was determined too many targets were compromised by damaged cables in the Viale Range pits.

It became clear that the initial damage to the target communication system was worse than originally thought. Christie Sewell, CMP Programs Chief, explained to competitors that it was impractical to go any further and had no choice but to cancel the match. CMP offered refunds to all competitors or the option of crediting their entry fees to a future match. The match did not count toward the competitors’ EIC match total for 2017.

The Takeaway from this Experience – CMP is a Pioneer in the Electronic Target World
They say it’s easy to recognize pioneers — they’re the ones with arrows in their backs. It feels that way sometimes at the Civilian Marksmanship Program as we roll out the most sophisticated electronically-scored targets in the world to America’s bullseye rifle and pistol shooters. Sometimes we make mistakes and they cost us time, money and aggravation.

KTS Electronic Targets failure Camp Perry Excellence Competition EIC
Cables carry power + communications from target to target the length of the line. Many places between targets can trap and catch cables. The loss of 1 cable can take out 5 adjacent targets.

But we press on. And the competitors who understand our goals press on with us. We pull the arrows out of each other’s backs, cover shot holes with thick-skin pasters, learn from our mistakes and press on with our mission. That mission includes safety instruction, youth marksmanship fundamentals, growing the sport of bullseye target shooting and providing our competitors the best opportunity to maximize participation in this sport.

What Actually Went Wrong on Saturday
Those familiar with the KTS targets at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park know they are hard-wired and mounted to actuators that tilt the targets up and down for use on three different target lines. Shooters fire from a common covered firing line and fire distances of 200, 300 or 600 yards during open public sessions and matches without moving. Those targets are semi-permanent and fit into frames that are bolted to iron brackets mounted on a concrete deck.

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January 25th, 2017

15-Year-Old Beats Entire Field in Talladega EIC Match

Excellence in Competition EIC M16 Match

There’s a notable quote: “Old Age and Treachery will always beat Youth and Exuberance.” (David Mamet). Well, that’s not always true. Recently a 15-year-old marksman beat the entire field of shooters at the CMP’s Talladega 600 M16 match. Here’s the story of that remarkable win…

Report based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
Alabama native Anthony Kissik, one of only two junior competitors in the Talladega 600 M16 EIC Match, was the overall winner with an impressive score of 383-16X. In winning the match, Kissik beat all adult shooters, including many top-flight competitors with decades of experience. With his win, Kissik received his first EIC (Excellence-In-Competition) leg points towards earning his Distinguished Rifleman Badge — a major honor for competitive marksmen.

Last year, Kissik missed the EIC cut mark by only a few points, slipping in his prone rapid stage. It was a mistake he was determined to avoid at the 2016 event. As the 2017 match commenced, Kissik was focused on not making mistakes. “Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up” he told himself. After cleaning the prone slow-fire portion, he felt comfortable with his performance. “And it was good from then on out”.

Excellence in Competition EIC M16 Match

The M16 EIC Match is fired at the conclusion of the CMP’s Small Arms Firing School, an introductory clinic designed to instruct new and veteran marksmen on rifle safety, fundamentals and techniques. The EIC match gives competitors the chance to earn their first four leg points towards the 30 points needed to earn a revered Distinguished Badge.

From 3P Air Rifle Competition to High Power Rifle at Camp Perry
An Alabama state-level junior champion, Kissik began his shooting career on a sporter 3P air rifle team. He then got started in High Power competition through matches hosted by the Virginia Junior Marksmanship Program. He attended his first High Power match at Fairfax before heading to Quantico in the summertime. Fresh off the air rifle firing line, he had a steep learning curve in the High Power discipline: “When you win in air rifle, it’s fun. In High Power I still have a lot to learn. In order to win in High Power, you have to be very precise.”

Competing at Camp Perry at Age 13
Kissik attended his first National Matches at Camp Perry at age 13, the youngest member of his squad. “Ultimately I want to get to High Master classification, and Distinguished, of course,” he added. As another personal goal, Kissik hopes to someday outshoot his coach, Sam Richardson.

With a new appreciation for High Power, Kissik has worked to hone his skills at CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park, which Kissik now calls home: “The [Talladega] facility is great. No pits, you don’t have to walk. It’s one of the most advanced in the country, and I get to call it my home range.”

CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park Kissik CMP 600
The Talladega Marksmanship Park boasts Kongsberg electronic targets at 200, 300, and 600 Yards.

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November 18th, 2016

CMP Committed to Perry — CMP Will Offer MORE Matches in 2018

CMP Camp Perry Ohio SAFS National Matches 2018 High Power Rifle

In response to the NRA’s just-revealed plans to move NRA High Power Rifle Matches away from Camp Perry starting in 2017, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has announced that it will offer MORE matches at the storied Camp Perry facility in 2018. CMP is demonstrating its commitment to Camp Perry, which has been the site of the National Matches since 1907.

Rimfire Sporter Camp Perry CMP

CMP Announces New Programs for 2018 National Matches

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is pleased to announce planning is underway for a number of new and exciting programs for the 2018 National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.

“In an effort to continue to attract new competitors and to reward the thousands who annually participate in our matches, the CMP will add new pistol, smallbore, high power rifle, and long range rifle matches in 2018,” said Mark Johnson, CMP Chief Operating Officer.

“A major part of our mission is to conduct competitions, provide marksmanship training and recognize competitors for their progress and achievements as has been done at the National Matches since 1903. Accordingly, we enthusiastically look forward to the opportunity to expand our role at the National Matches at Camp Perry. We are committed to Camp Perry and our published dates for events in 2017 remain set. We have invested in Camp Perry with electronic targets on Petrarca Range, the Bataan Armory, our headquarters building, the CMP North Store, and the Gary Anderson Competition Center.”

CMP Camp Perry Petrarca Range Electronic Targets

Planned enhancements include a new CMP High Power Ranking System which will provide a fair and accountable method of rewarding success on the firing line at every level of experience, above and beyond our current awards. New, challenging pistol and rifle matches will be added to the schedule. Greater shooting opportunities for women and junior competitors are being developed. Increased use of electronic targets is being considered for many events. A CMP Range Officer Certification and Licensing Program has been developed for pistol, rifle and airgun disciplines and will be introduced by year-end.

“The CMP will not waver in its mission of promoting firearm safety and marksmanship training with an emphasis on youth,” Johnson said. “The tradition of the National Matches at Camp Perry will continue, supported by the CMP and the Ohio National Guard, with or without the participation of other organizations.”

Get 2017 National Match Calendar Online
To get more info on the National Matches or to download a 2017 National Match Calendar, visit the CMP website at: http://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-national-matches/.

CMP Camp Perry Ohio SAFS Small Arms Firing School
One of the important events at Camp Perry every summer is the Small Arms Firing School.

CMP Camp Perry EIC Pistol Match

CMP Camp Perry Ohio SAFS Small Arms Firing School
Shown is the CMP’s Camp Perry Competition Center with its 80-point electronic target air gun range.

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