Shotgun advocacy
Cpl. Josh Webb, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, assists an Army advocate, commonly known as a Center of Influence, Jan. 5 at the San Antonio Gun Club. The COIs were invited guests of the Army and took part in the festivities leading up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 11, 2012) -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Shotgun team started off the New Year in Texas displaying their skills as part of the week's activities leading up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 3-7.

The team hosted dozens of civilian Army advocates, commonly known as Centers of Influence, at the San Antonio Gun Club. COIs guide young people down the right path toward their future and provide them with all of the information that the Army and ROTC offer the nation's youth.

"The COIs are some of the most influential people students, juniors and those thinking about their future look to for advice and guidance," said Cpl. Josh Webb. "It's important that we display the professionalism of the Soldier so these influencers can go back to their local areas and provide all of the answers to the questions those contemplating a future with the military are asking."

First-time and experienced shotgun shooters received instruction from USAMU Soldiers, including 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists Sgt. Glenn Eller and Sgt. Vincent Hancock. Soldiers urged the importance of safety and assisted them in establishing a proper firing position before allowing the spectators the opportunity to pull the trigger and have some fun on the range.

"It was very cool," said Pete Anders, the chief of police at Millersville University, Pa. "They asked me what I did for a living and knew that I have shot a lot of targets, but this was a different style of shooting. I got a rhythm going, but lost it before the friendly competition they had for us. They were fantastic instructors."

Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond, already a qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games, and Staff Sgt. Mark Weeks performed their jaw-dropping shotgun demonstration, blasting everything from six or seven clay targets at a time to heads of lettuce, tomatoes and shaving cream out of the sky.

Amid the demo and clay pigeon shooting under the direction of Olympic Champions, Anders' said that his long-standing appreciation for the Army grew even fonder.

"I continue to be impressed with the great young men and women of America and that is just reinforced by coming down here," he said. "Going to see some of the wounded warriors, with their spirit and drive to continue on, is humbling.

"In talking to these guys from the USAMU, they showed us what they are teaching those headed over to combat, and it's awesome. It's a statement of America --we're in good shape."

While training the war fighter, researching and developing new weapons initiatives, and competing at the highest levels are the foundations that distinguish the USAMU from other units in the military, Soldiers understand how important their reach into communities across the country is to Army accessions.

"It's really simple -- recruiting and accessions enhance the combat readiness of our Army," Webb said. "Who knows when we may help recruit the next great leader, Olympian, or war fighter and ensure that our future Army is as strong as it is today?"

Page last updated Thu January 12th, 2012 at 00:00