CAMP PERRY, Ohio (July 16, 2014) -- It was a historic performance for U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooters at the National Rifle Association National Pistol Championship as Service Pistol Team members took the top three positions out of 656 competitors.
Staff. Sgt. Patrick Franks claimed the coveted national title with a total score of 2649 with 147x (out of 2700). The runner-up was Sgt.1st Class James Henderson with a total score of 2649-131 and third place went to Sgt. Greg Markowski with a total score of 2640-127. To top it off, the the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit won the overall team championship to complete the sweep.
"I don't think there has been team domination like this at nationals, ever," Henderson said.
The competition, held at Camp Perry, Ohio, July 8-12, brings civilian and military shooters from around the country for competitive pistol shooting with .22 and .45 caliber pistol matches, as well as revolvers.
"You don't have to win an individual category; I didn't win any individual category, but my total score was good enough, and it just goes to show that you're never down and out," Franks said. "You're always hanging on by a point, and you got to fight for every single one on the firing line, mentally and physically."
The USAMU took first place in all overall pistol categories, and came back from a six-point deficit on the final day, to win the overall team competition with a total score of 3495-152. The team's elation, as they came off the firing line at the end of the team match, was palpable, and was confirmed with the final results.
"We handle ourselves well under pressure," Franks said. "A lot of that comes from our training, and the other team matches that we do. We usually get together and we push ourselves. We know exactly what we're getting into when it comes to a team match, so most of the time we're able to come back."
Part of the team's success, Henderson said, is imparting to the newer guys that it's a marathon, not a sprint.
"It's not about winning the one day. If you win the one gun [event], it's great, but what we want to win is the overall aggregate," he said.
For veteran shooters like Franks and Henderson, seeing their teammates improve and win is "awesome."
"I was telling Sgt. Markowski, this is his third or fourth time up here, and he's already got a podium slot," Henderson said. "When I started out, it took me 10 years to get a podium slot. They're coming up amazingly fast."
The annual competition began in 1907, and has been a tradition for more than 100 years. This history resounds strongly with Franks, who completed a personal sweep after winning the Interservice Pistol Championship in June.
"It's very nostalgic for me," Franks said. "I remember my first year, and I just thought this thing has been going on for decades, and [I thought] about all of the former national champions firing on the points, and [who] drove through those gates to the range; [it's] just phenomenal."
It's not only winning and the history that makes this a memorable event. It's also the people, Henderson said.
"It's a major sporting event, but it's also getting together with friends and seeing people you haven't seen since the last time you were up here. It's like you never even left. You just pick up the conversation that you had on the range last year," he said.
The final results for all matches can be found at http://competitions.nra.org/championship-results/nra-national-outdoor-rifle-pistol-championships-results.aspx.
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group, and is tasked with enhancing the Army's recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship, and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army's overall combat readiness.