FORT BENNING, Ga. - Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit picked up where they left off their successful 2009 competitive shooting season with wins all over the globe the past two weeks.
At the China World Cup, Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski led the American contingent of shooters by winning not one but two gold medals at the games. He started things off Apr. 19 when he won gold in the 50-meter Free Pistol match with a strong performance, then on the following day had to start from sixth place in the final round of the Men's 10m Air Pistol and climb to the top to win gold.
"I figured it was one of the other guys' matches to win so I just stayed calm and focused," Szarenski, a three-time Olympian, said. "I've been working hard and the training is paying off."
Fellow USAMU Soldier Spc. Joe Hein visited the podium as a first-time gold medal winner Apr. 20 after conquering the field in the Men's 50m Rifle Prone match. Fellow USAMU Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft stood next to Hein on the podium after finishing in third place to win the bronze medal.
"You can't ask for anything more, unless it's three of us," Hein said. "It's great to stand up there with (Sgt. 1st Class) Uptagrafft."
Staff Sgt. Ryan Hadden wrapped things up for the U.S. team, claiming a bronze medal in Men's Trap during the event's last day.
While USAMU Soldiers were winning medals in Asia, the service teams competed in their first competitive matches of the season.
At the Florida Regional Pistol Championships in Jacksonville, Fla., the members of the service pistol team continued their recent domination in service pistol competition. Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson, the reigning National Pistol Champion, blitzed the field to win the overall individual aggregate championship, fending off teammate Staff Sgt. Robert Park, the second-ranked service pistol shooter in the country.
USAMU swept the field in the team matches. USAMU Blue won the .22-caliber, center fire and .45-cal. matches, while USAMU Gray won the service team match.
In Donaldsville, La., the service rifle team competed in the Bayou State Regional Rifle championships. Sgt. Tyrel Cooper won the 800 point individual aggregate championship with a score of 788-35x. He was followed by teammates Sgt. 1st Class Lance Dement in second with a 787-30x and Staff Sgt. Brandon Green in third with a 783-29x. Sgt. 1st Class David Steinbach won the Excellence in Competition match and USAMU Craig won the four-man team match.
The teams continue to train in preparation for the National Championships slated for later this summer. The USAMU continues preparations to host the 2010 World Cup USA, when more than 400 competitors from more than 40 countries will descend on Fort Benning for the International Rifle and Pistol competition at the end of May.