Physician assistant outshoots the Infantry
January 5, 2009
At the age of 10, she could shoot a rifle better than the local high school boys. Thanks to her mother's hobby and her own interest in the sport, she set the tone for a memorable shooting career in college and the Army.
"I grew up around shooting ranges, so I would always bug my mother to teach me," Capt. Karyn Manges stated.
She used her talent to land both a rifle team and educational scholarship from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. At Xavier she was an All-American shooter for four years, and the NCAA Champion in 1998.
A year after graduating from college Manges decided to join the Army to pay her student loans.
She enlisted as a medic in October 2000 and immediately became a part of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, a unit that is dedicated to representing the Army at shooting events.
"I competed in international competitions for three years, visiting places throughout Europe and Asia," Manges explained. "The goal of the unit was to shoot, compete and represent the Army."
At the competitions, Manges fired the M-16, which is considered part of the Service Rifle Category. Other rifles that fall into the category are the M-1 Garand and AR-15.
"When I was not shooting, I was training other Soldiers," Manges said. "I went out to train drill sergeants, snipers, Special Forces, Rangers and squad-designated marksmen." "I was the only female, and I was a specialist, so everyone got a kick out of being trained by me," added Manges.
Manges said that she believes women typically do very well in the sport of shooting.
"For me, shooting the M-16 wasn't very technical," she said. "It was like, get down, align the sights, and pull the trigger."
The method seemed to work for her during her last year of competitive Army shooting.
"Over the course of the year, I shot the M-16 at 1,000 yards and won some national titles," Manges explained. "When people ask me how far I can shoot, I tell them at least 1,000 yards."
During her last year on the team, Manges earned a Distinguished Rifleman's Badge and President's Hundred Tab in the President's Hundred Match, which is a nationwide competition sponsored by the National Rifle Association, recognizing the top 100 marksmen in the country.
In 2005, Manges finished her stint with the Army Shooting Team and received her commission as a physician assistant. She now serves with the 4th Support Battalion at the Forward Operating Base Falcon troop medical clinic in Iraq.
Manges said she will never shoot for the Army as a full-time job again because she enjoys helping Soldiers as a physician assistant.
"In addition to being technically proficient at her job, she is also devoted to training medics," said Capt. Jim Silverstrim, commander of Company C of the 4th Support Battalion.
"For me, I only wanted to compete for a few years - I wouldn't make it a career," Manges explained. "I didn't want to look back later in life and wish I would've tried to do it."