Army Marksmanship Unit Badges
The Distinguished Pistol Shot badge (top) is one of the top medals a Soldier can earn in marksmanship, along with the Distinguished International Shooter badge and the Distinguished Rifleman's badge. The U.S. Army Excellence in Competition silver and... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Proficiency in marksmanship is a skill that all Soldiers not only desire to have-it is essential. Participation in military and civilian-sponsored small-arms marksmanship competitions offers Soldiers the opportunity to refine their marksmanship skills, compete against other military and civilian marksmen and earn the highest marksmanship awards eligible for wear on the uniform.

The Distinguished Marksmanship Badge was instituted in 1884 by Gen. Phillip H. Sheridan before being broken down into two categories in 1903-the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge and the Distinguished Rifleman's Badge. These badges, along with the Distinguished International Shooter badge, are the most prestigious marksmanship badges Soldiers can earn in their military career.

Soldiers earn points toward these coveted badges by performing well at Excellence in Competition matches held throughout the country. Soldiers who place in the top ten-percent of all non-distinguished competitors in an EIC match earn points. Gen. Sheridan instituted the regulation as a way to encourage new Soldiers to get involved in competitive marksmanship and not swayed by the fact that highly-skilled marksmen would be in the same match.

Since the inception of the badge, 3,275 Soldiers have earned the distinguished rifleman's badge and 1,740 Soldiers have earned the distinguished pistol shot badge, while 392 Soldiers have been awarded both badges, said Nancy Pool, EIC director. That is less than one percent of all Soldiers in the history of the Army. 15 Soldiers have the rare distinction of having been awarded all three distinguished badges after earning the Distinguished International Shooter badge. Two of those Soldiers are currently on active-duty with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Lt. Col. Rhonda Bright and Sgt. 1st Class Lance Dement.

Soldiers can immediately earn the U.S. Army EIC Marksmanship badge (bronze) when they win their first points. After accumulating 20 points, Soldiers are awarded the U.S. Army EIC Marksmanship badge (silver). Award of the appropriate Distinguished Designation Badge is made when a Soldier has earned 30 EIC credit points in recognized matches. Upon earning this award, the individual loses the non-Distinguished status with that weapon.

The first match of the year where Soldiers can obtain the EIC badge (bronze) and gain points towards obtaining their distinguished badge is at the U.S. Army Small Arms Championships conducted by the USAMU and Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning Feb. 20-27. It is open to all Army-component Soldiers, including cadets from West Point and ROTC.

"Fort Benning is the only post in the Army that holds annual matches," said Mike Behnke, chief of competitions for the USAMU. "Since it's on an Army post there is no cost to the Soldier or the unit to compete. Soldiers can compete in the match, earn a badge right then and there while gaining valuable points towards their distinguished badges, pick the brains of the USAMU Soldiers, and have a great time doing it. It's a no-brainer."

Soldiers are authorized to compete for credit points in not more than four recognized EIC matches with each weapon (service rifle and service pistol) during the calendar year. Besides recognized Army-component EIC matches, Soldiers may also compete in matches registered or approved by the National Rifle Association, or other civilian-sponsored competitions.

In accordance with Army Regulation 670-1, Soldiers are authorized to wear up to three marksmanship badges on their uniforms. All Soldiers earn a marksmanship qualification badge during basic training at skill-level marksman, sharpshooter or expert. The U.S. Army EIC badge takes precedence over the qualification badge. The Distinguished Designation Badges trump them all.