'Best Nation' dueling pistols
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

BODEN, Sweden (Army News Service, Sept. 26, 2008) - Soldiers of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit won four medals last week and the coveted title of "Best Nation in the World" at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire - called CISM - at the Rodberget Shooting Centre in northern Sweden.

"We were down by as many as 40 points," said USAMU Commander Lt. Col. Frank Muggeo of Fort Benning, Ga., who also served USA CISM Team chief of mission. "The work that these Soldiers did to come back was really something.

"Ultimately we pulled it out by 10 points and have won the title of Best Nation," Muggeo said. We have not won this event in eight years. We beat Scandinavian militaries that actually have a CISM Team in the military and the Germans who had their Olympic Team shooting. Our Soldiers were shooting in events that are only shot at CISM and they are not events that we practice throughout the year; this just goes to show how important the fundamentals of marksmanship are."

The first CISM Gold Medal was awarded to USA's Women's Rifle Team Sept. 16. With 17 teams competing in the Women's 50-Meter Sport Rifle Prone Team Match, the Gold Medal went to Sgt. Kelly A. Dove and Spc. Nicole M. Cooper of the Army Marksmanship Unit and Army Reservist Lt. Col. Rhonda L. Bright, formerly of the USAMU. Bright scored 596 points, Dove shot 593 points and Cooper got a 586; a perfect score is 600; top scores are 590 to 595. In this match, the women fired 60 shots in 1A,A1/2 hours at a target with a bull's eye smaller than a dime. Germany took the Silver Medal and Norway the Bronze.

In the Men's 300-Meter Three Position Standard Rifle Team Match Sept. 16, Austria set a new military world record and won the Gold Medal. The Silver Medal went to Norway and Switzerland got the Bronze. The USA Team of Parker, 1996 Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Eric A. Uptagrafft, and Staff Sgts. Armando R. Ayala and Shane M. Barnhart, all of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit; took fifth place out of 29 teams.

In the Women's 25-Meter .22-Caliber Center Fire Pistol (Precision Course) Team Match Sept. 16, the USA just missed the medal stand and finished in fourth place out of 12 teams behind China with the Gold, Germany the Silver and Belarus the Bronze. USA Team members were Marine Corps Capt. Janine Mills, four-time Olympian Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Elizabeth A. Callahan and Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Sandra Uptagrafft.

The Men's Pistol Team ended up in seventh place out of 29 teams in the 25-Meter .32-Caliber Center Fire Pistol (Precision Course) Team Match. Pistol Team members were Sgt. 1st Class Thomas A. Rose and Staff Sgts. Robert S. Park II and John C. Ennis and Sgt. Michael S. Gasser of the Army Marksmanship Unit. China won the match followed by Ukraine in second and India in third.

Three-time Olympian and former CISM Champion Sgt. 1st Class Jason A. Parker took the Silver Medal in the Men's 300-Meter Three Position Standard Rifle Slow Fire Individual Match Sept. 17. This match consisted of 20 shots in each position (standing, kneeling and prone) over 2 hours and 15 minutes at a target whose bull's eye is 10 centimeters wide shot from more than three football fields away. With a score of 587, Parker finished just 2 points behind Sgt. Marcel Burge of Switzerland who took the Gold with a 589. Warrant Officer Robert Markoja of Slovenia received the Bronze with a 585; 54 shooters competed. A perfect score is 600 points; top scores are in the mid-580s.

In the Women's 50-Meter Sport Rifle Prone Individual Match, Cooper took fifth place only 5 points behind the winner Cpl. Anzela Vornova of Estonia Sept. 17. Staff Sgt. Eva Friedel of Germany took second and Sgt. Kristina Vestveit of Norway was third; Bright placed 10th and Dove finished 15th.

Rose won the Silver Medal in the Men's 25-Meter .32-Caliber Center Fire Pistol Individual Match Sept. 18. Rose, five points behind Gold Medalist 2nd Lt. Zheng Gao of China, was tied with two other shooters for second place. After the shoot-off, Rose emerged victorious and took the Silver Medal two points ahead of Bronze Medalist Lt. Col. Oleg Khvatsovas of Belarus.

In the Women's 25-Meter .22-Caliber Center Fire Pistol Individual Match Uptagrafft finished in eighth place, Callahan was 12th and Mills finished 13th. Senior Col. Ying Cao and Cadet Yan Zhu of China took the Gold and Silver Medals and Lt. Zhanna Shapialevich of Belarus got the Bronze.

Sept. 19, the USA just missed medaling in the Men's 300-Meter Military Rapid Fire Rifle Team Match. Team USA finished in fourth place behind Norway, Switzerland and Austria. In the Women's 50-Meter Sport Rifle Three Position Team Match, Team USA placed 9th; Norway won the Gold Medal, Sweden received the Silver and Germany got the Bronze.

On the last day of the competition Sept. 20, USAMU's Uptagrafft won the Bronze Medal in the Men's 300-Meter Military Rapid Fire Rifle Individual Match; Olympic Medalist Warrant Officer Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia took the Gold Medal and Sgt. Vebjorn Berg of Norway the Silver.

In the Women's 25-Meter Military Rapid Fire .22-Caliber Individual Pistol Team Match, Naval Reservist Uptagrafft, the wife of the USAMU rifle shooter, placed 5th; Callahan was 16th and Mills finished in 19th place. Shapialevich won the Gold Medal, followed by Warrant Officer Stefanie Thurman of Germany with the Silver and Cao with the Bronze.

In the Women's 50-Meter Sport Rifle Three Position Individual Match, Dove ended up in 6th place. The Gold Medal went to Sgt. Linda Olofsson of Sweden, the Silver to Capt. Gyda E. Olssen of Norway and the Bronze to Pfc. Sylwia Bogacka of Poland.

Ennis placed 12th in the Men's 25-Meter Military Rapid Fire .32-Caliber Pistol Match, in which Rose was 17th. China took all the medals; Maj. Yadong Liu the Gold, Gao the Silver and Maj. Yongde Jin the Bronze.

CISM ended Sept. 20 with the Closing Ceremony. The team left Sweden Sept. 21 and returned to Fort Benning Sept. 22.

(Paula J. Randall serves as public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Accessions Support Brigade.)