FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 17, 2010) Aca,!" Sgt. Sherri Jo Gallagher set high goals for 2010. To say she met them is an understatement.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Soldier recently won the National High Power Rifle Championship, is on the brink of competing to be the Army Soldier of the Year and relishes every moment serving her country.

Aca,!A"I wanted to be in the military since I was very young Aca,!" I was drawn to the challenge and excitement of it,Aca,!A? said Gallagher. Aca,!A"I wanted to learn how to be a leader and make a difference in life. Then I had the opportunity to join the USAMU and turn my favorite hobby into my daily life. Nothing could be more fun than that.Aca,!A?

Gallagher became the first servicemember since 1987 to win the high-power competition at the National Championships held annually at Camp Perry, Ohio. She set a new national record in the match with a 2396-161x, dropping only four shots during the entire competition.

Gallagher shot 21 more bulls eyes than anyone else in the field, which included legends of the sport and past champions. She also became the second woman ever to win the championship Aca,!" her mother, Nancy Tompkins, being the first.

Aca,!A"Mom won in 1998,Aca,!A? Gallagher said. Aca,!A"We were both competing that year so I didnAca,!a,,ct get to watch her that muchAca,!A|but she wasnAca,!a,,ct shooting high-power this year, so she was able to watch me shoot. She brought me coffee every day. It was very nice.Aca,!A?

Gallagher grew up around the sport of shooting. Her stepfather managed a U.S. national rifle team, her mother is a living legend in the sport, and her sister is a three-time national high-power long-range rifle champion and finished third overall in the long-range event this year.

Aca,!A"I started shooting when I was five,Aca,!A? Gallagher said. Aca,!A"My stepdad had us pulling targets by about seven and the best way to get out of the pits is if we volunteered to shoot. So it was good motivation.Aca,!A?

Gallagher currently holds 21 national records in rifle. In 2009, she won the national high-power long-range rifle championship for the first time and credits her success on the firing line to some very simple advice she received at a young age.

Aca,!A"The biggest thing we learned growing up was to have fun and if youAca,!a,,cre not having fun something is wrong,Aca,!A? she continued. Aca,!A"There is no point getting worked up over what you do because all you can do is your best.Aca,!A?

Gallagher took that advice to heart in training for the nationals this year because besides winning the coveted title at Camp Perry, she was named TRADOC Soldier of the Year just a few weeks prior. A process that started at the unit level back in the spring now has her set to go head-to-head against the best the Army has to offer at the 2010 Best Warrior Competition with the title of Army Soldier of the Year on the line.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs been an awesome experience,Aca,!A? said Gallagher, who was promoted to the rank of sergeant since competing at TRADOC. Aca,!A"I have learned so much through doing it. The last competition at TRADOC was amazing. The very first day we started at four in the morning and they had us going until nine oAca,!a,,cclock at night. Then we were up the next morning at five in the morning to do a (physical training) test. You would show up and have no idea whatAca,!a,,cs going on. At any given point you didnAca,!a,,ct know whether youAca,!a,,cre doing a PT test, a board, or doing Soldier skills.Aca,!A?

One of the reasons Soldiers in her unit believe Gallagher is thriving is the approach she takes to every task she is given, said Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Ward, noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the service rifle team. No one else envies her position due to the amount of sacrifices she has made in order to be so successful.

Aca,!A"Competing at the level she does, being as successful as she is in competition, all while simultaneously preparing for numerous Soldier of the Year competitions is not something that just anyone could do,Aca,!A? Ward said. Aca,!A"That is just the kind of person she is Aca,!" she has a Aca,!Eoecan doAca,!a,,c attitude about everything she does.Aca,!A?

Gallagher keeps a level head about her recent accomplishments, saying thereAca,!a,,cs always room for improvement. She said she hasnAca,!a,,ct lost focus on the mission at hand for the USAMU.

Aca,!A"The most important thing is training Soldiers, assisting with research and development, and helping the warfighter,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"My goal for next year is to learn how to be a better instructor. I like to use everything I learn through competition to help train others. I get to use a skill I grew up using and help people with their marksmanship. It is fun to be part of that.Aca,!A?