A SOF Major takes aim at the target
A range officer holds an audible timing device for the competitor who was one of Stuttgart’s top marksmen proving their worth on the range July 7, as they competed for the coveted Bronze Excellence in Competition (EIC) Pistol badge. (Photo Credit: Paul Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

STUTTGART, Germany -- Fifty of Stuttgart’s top marksmen proved their worth on the range July 7, as they competed for the coveted Bronze Excellence in Competition (EIC) Pistol badge.

Wednesday’s competition was part of the Army-wide EIC program that began way back in 1884 to help cultivate the Army’s lethality and tactical proficiency. With multiple awards, this competition is a stepping stone for competitors to go on to gain the Army’s silver and distinguished marksman badges, which require competitors to attend multiple competitions and continue placing highly as they potentially move up the ranks as skilled marksmen.

Stuttgart’s Green Berets aim to make this inaugural EIC match at the Panzer range complex an annual event.

“This is a formal program, run by the Army Marksmanship Unit, and it’s a great opportunity for soldiers to get a chance to earn a real award that goes into their military records,” said SOF Maj., 1-10’s operations officer and event organizer.

On the first day of the three-day event, competitors familiarize themselves on the range with either the M9 or M17 pistol.

On day two, where the official scoring begins, competitors raise their pistols to the target before firing 40 rounds at distances of up to 30 yards. Two range supervisors scrutinize their every move as they move between standing, kneeling and prone positions. On the last day though, it’s all about bragging rights as the fifty competitors are invited to a barbeque, where the winners will be announced.

A SOF Soldier takes aim during a Bronze Excellence in Competition (EIC) Pistol match.
STUTTGART, Germany -- Fifty of Stuttgart’s top marksmen competed at the Panzer range complex, July 7, as they shot for the coveted Bronze Excellence in Competition (EIC) Pistol badge. (Photo Credit: Paul Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

Unlike earning the traditional Army marksmanship badges, which every Soldier must qualify for, shooters are directly pitted against each other in EIC matches. Only the top 10% of competitors receive the bronze award. This means that today, just five will walk away with a badge. One soldier, who shot 166 out of a possible 200, is hopeful, but realistic.

“It’s too early to tell if I made the top 10%” the Special Forces Soldier said as he watched over the official scoring of his targets.

He added, “shooting in a competition provides a benchmark for where people are. It removes any of the self-deception involved when you’re just out at the range.”

While there will be more than one disappointed marksman after the competition is complete, a fellow competitor, a SOF Captain, said the competition was more than just a day at the range.

“It’s good to get people around the garrison together for these kinds of professional events,” the Captain said. “It’s an opportunity to meet somebody that works in a staff position at headquarters that you’ve only interacted with virtually and now you’re on the range and you build a relationship.”

The final scores will be sent to the Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning for adjudication before the winners will receive their Bronze EIC pistol badges.