In 2018, Adam Fitzpatrick watched U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Green become the first American servicemember to win the Her Excellency, The Governor-General’s Prize, a prestigious rifle match at the Canadian Fullbore Championships. Then in 2023, the roles were reversed when Fitzpatrick, now a specialist in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, became the second American servicemember to win that same elite match as Green watched nearby.
The Mount Holly, North Carolina native said this role reversal is the highlight of his journey into the U.S. Army.
“Green was a role model when I first began shooting competitively as a teenager, so to compete as a civilian, then join Sgt. 1st Class Green here at the USAMU as a fellow Service Rifle Team shooter, attend this match and win against him five years later has been an amazing journey,” said Fitzpatrick.
Joining the Army in October 2021 was not the beginning of Fitzpatrick’s marksmanship skills though. That passion began while he was a teenager—and he was good at it. In fact, his distinguished performance at national mid- and long-range Palma matches, as well as international fullbore matches, earned the young marksman his letter of acceptance to the Home of Champions.
As a marksmanship instructor/competitive shooter on the USAMU Service Rifle Team, Fitzpatrick has been able to work side by side with Green since April 2022, making him not just a role model, but a mentor as well, said Fitzpatrick.
“I will always be grateful to him for everything he’s taught me on, and off, the range.”
Of course, as a senior member of the USAMU, Green wasn’t just watching Fitzpatrick win the Governor-General’s Prize Match, he was competing as well. In fact, all four USAMU Soldiers competing at the Canadian Fullbore Championships, which was held at the Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario August 14-19, had earned spots in the Governor-General’s shoot-off.
To earn those spots in the shoot-off, the USAMU Soldiers first had to complete three qualifying matches, along with 112 other competitors from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Jamaica. The qualifying matches were shot at 300, 500, and 600 yards with a Palma rifle, but with additional rules than we have in the United States, explained Fitzpatrick.
“The .308 caliber projectiles cannot exceed 156 grains in weight and the minimum trigger pull weight is half a kilogram.”
Using 155.5 grain bullets, the USAMU Soldiers completed the three qualifying matches side by side with the other international marksmen in a ‘three to a mound’ style course of fire, said Fitzpatrick.
“This means there are three shooters per target who must shoot within 45 seconds of recording the previous shot’s score. This is far more difficult than the slow-fire stages typically shot in the USA, as it forces you to make a new wind call for each shot.”
With those three qualifying match scores combined, the top 20 competitors were selected to move on to the shoot-off. Those top 20 marksmen then fire 15 shots at 800 meters and another at 900 meters, for a total of possible score of 300 points.
Fitzpatrick completed the shoot-off with a 298-29v to claim the impressive win. USAMU teammate, Staff Sgt. Verne Conant followed right behind him in a 2nd with a 298-28v. Green placed 7th with a 295-27v and Spc. Zevin Linse was 13th with a 294-29v.
Though the course of fire for the elite match is more difficult, the training preparation for it is ultimately the same, said Fitzpatrick.
“The training we do for long range prone shooting is based on fundamentals; so there’s not really a tangible difference for me for this match over my other long range matches. It’s just differences in the rules and pace of the match in general.”
Winning one of the most prestigious fullbore matches in the world with our standard training is a critical achievement in terms of our marksmanship credibility, said Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Deal, the USAMU Service Rifle Team Chief.
“It illustrates how adaptable and skilled our shooters are by applying the fundamentals of marksmanship to different platforms against a wide variety of competition, while doing so on an international stage.”
The team’s overall performance at the six-day championship proved Deal’s statement as well. Linse claimed 1st in the Under 25 Grand Aggregate with a score of 747-89v. Conant seized 1st in the Col. John C. Brick Match with a 100-19v and finished the Patron’s Match in a three-way tie with a score of 149-14v, which included Fitzpatrick as well. Meanwhile, Green won the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Grand Aggregate with the impressive score of 751-100v out of a possible 755-151v.
The USAMU Soldiers also teamed up with four other civilian riflemen from the United States for The Canada Match, an 8-man team match. This team dominantly beat teams from Great Britain and Canada with a score of 1193-145v, making the spread between 2nd and 3rd place a solid 6 points and 8 Vs and 10 points and 29 Vs, respectively.
With 2023 being the fourth year Fitzpatrick has competed in the Canadian Fullbore Championships, it was the second time he competed as a Soldier. And by winning the most prestigious fullbore match in the world, with his mentor on the same range, it’s a huge highlight in his Army journey.
“Winning this match is one of the greatest accomplishments any international fullbore shooter can attain and being the second American serviceman to accomplish this goal, made for a day I’ll never forget.”