CAMP PERRY, Ohio -- Soldiers of a Army Marksmanship Unit have won the Civilian Marksmanship Program National Trophy Pistol Team Match and Gold Cup Trophy in the National Trophy Pistol Matches.
It was the 10th year in a row the unti had won. Sgt. 1st Class Adam Sokolowski, the USAMU's team chief and competitor, said the National Trophy Pistol Matches, which took place this year from July 11 to 17, are the World Series for pistol shooting. They have have been conducted since 1903.
"The National Matches are the largest championship we shoot in," Sokolowski said. "We train all year and compete in state, regional and interstate matches in preparation for the National Matches."
In addition to Sokolowski, members of the winning team included Pfc. Christopher Hudock, Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Cleveland, Sgt. Ryan Franks, Staff Sgt. Greg Markowski and Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson.
Hudock, the newest member of the USAMU Service Pistol Team, won the CMP National Trophy Individual Pistol Match General Custer Trophy in his debut with the Army.
Hudock has shot in the National Pistol Matches since 2003 when he was a junior marksman, but he said winning this award was like nothing else he has experienced.
"It was surreal and amazing," he said. "I have been training the entire year for it."
Additionally, the CMP honored Hudock by asking him to co-present distinguished shooting badges to this year's distinguished shooters, including two of his teammates: Cleveland and Ryan Franks.
Hudock, who attended The Citadel in South Carolina and shot on the military college's shooting team, had planned on becoming an Army officer, but his plans changed. He enlisted in the Army and joined the unit in 2015.
"I always thought of myself as a career Soldier, and there's no place better than (the Army Marksmanship Unit) where you shoot with the best in the world," he said.
Hudock said the Army and his unit provide everything he needs to be successful, including ammunition, training and Custom Firearms Shop gunsmith expertise.
"I can concentrate on training, and (the Custom Firearms Shop) gives us the competitive advantage over anyone else," he said.
Four Service Pistol Team members -- Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Franks, Sokolowski, Henderson, and Markowski -- were named to the 2016 Mayleigh Challenge Cup team to compete in the international team event.
"It's an honor to shoot in that prestigious match and represent the United States at the international level," Sokolowski said. "The scores from the .22 caliber slow fire match are used to pick the top shooters who compete in the Mayleigh Cup."
The Mayleigh Challenge Cup Trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the .22 caliber Mayleigh Challenge Cup, and the winners of the match will be notified later in the year.
Mayleigh Cup teams from each participating country mail their scores to the event organizer in what is known as a postal competition, a match where marksmen can compete locally without traveling great distances.
Members of the USAMU Service Pistol Team, competing in a team called USAMU Blue -- composed of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Gasser, Henderson, brothers Patrick and Ryan Franks, Markowski, and Cleveland -- also won the NRA's Center Fire Team Championship.
Additionally, USAMU Soldiers amassed numerous individual awards.
Sokolowski won second overall in the NRA National Pistol Championship and was the NRA High (Military) Service Champion; Markowski was the NRA Preliminary Pistol Champion; and Henderson was the NRA .45 Caliber Champion.
In the CMP Excellence in Competition (EIC) match, the champion was Markowski, and the next five places were won by Cleveland, Henderson, Patrick and Ryan Franks, and Sokolowski, respectively.
Gasser was the CMP .22 Rimfire EIC champion, and Ryan Franks won the CMP National Trophy Individual General Patton Trophy for active Army service members.
"Everything we learn and all the skills we hone while competing in the Nationals is returned to all Soldiers through marksmanship courses like the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course," Gasser said.
The Marksmanship Master Trainer Course was developed by USAMU to provide commanders with select noncommissioned officer Marksmanship Master Trainers who understand how to train marksmanship and train and develop primary and assistant instructors.
Editor's Note: The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's mission is winning national and international shooting competitions and advancing small-arms lethality to demonstrate Army marksmanship capability and enhance marksmanship effectiveness in combat. USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade and Army Marketing and Research Group.