FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 13, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and Fort Benning are set to host the inaugural Army Strong Collegiate Shooting Championships Tuesday through Sunday, bringing more than 300 collegiate shooters to Fort Benning.

The dynamic format will draw top college and junior shooters from the entire country competing in four distinct championships: the National Rifle Association Intercollegiate Pistol Championships; the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship; the Scholastic Steel Challenge Collegiate Championship; and the Scholastic Clay Target Program Challenge.

The USAMU connects to America's youth through teaching, coaching, and mentoring junior shooters throughout the year. USAMU Commander Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne said his Soldiers are role models for the nation's youth. With Soldiers as shooter mentors, he said the Army's hosting of the collegiate championships is a perfect fit.

"The USAMU, home to the absolute best marksmen, marksmanship instructors, and gunsmiths in the world, is the ideal location to hold this ground-breaking Army Strong Collegiate Shooting Championships," Hodne said. "Our newest generation of collegiate champions across multiple shooting disciplines will earn their titles at the 'Home of Champions.'"

The ASCSC aligns directly with the youth and collegiate shooting programs of the NRA Competitive Shooting Division, SSC, and SCTP, which all foster junior and collegiate participation in prestigious competitions while promoting firearms safety.

More than 200 colleges and universities have rifle and pistol programs affiliated with the NRA. Those earning spots at the championships include Ohio State, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, Penn State and New Mexico State. The Coast Guard Academy is set to defend its crown in the SSC Collegiate Championship, and more than 60 competitors will engage clay targets to claim this year's SCTP title.

Hosting the most prestigious of matches has become as synonymous to the "Home of Champions" as winning national and world championships, Hodne said.

A number of world-class championships have been held on the ranges of the USAMU in the past few years, including two International Shooting Sports Federation World Cups, an International Paralympic Committee World Cup, USA Shooting National Rifle and Pistol Championships, the annual U.S. Army Small Arms Championships, and the upcoming U.S. Olympic Smallbore Team Trials.

The USAMU aims to make the ASCSC an annual event, Hodne said.