Ohio National Guard News

First Shot Ceremony opens 2016 National Trophy Matches
at Camp Perry; competition runs through mid-August

By Ashley Brugnone, Civilian Marksmanship Program
Photos courtesy of Civilian Marksmanship Program

World War II veteran Lloyd Boyer salutes during the First Shot Ceremony to officially open the National Matches, July 11, 2016, at Camp Perry Joint Training Center, near Port Clinton, Ohio. Boyer led the presentation of the colors. READ STORY

Oscar Mahlon Love, Civilian Marksmanship Program Board member, fires the ceremonial first shot downrange to officially open the National Matches. View a video highlighting the First Shot Ceremony at https://youtu.be/CtUXH9WQpWU

Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Cleveland of the Army Marksmanship Unit fires his during the Service Pistol Excellence-In-Competition Match, July 12, 2016. Cleveland earned second place, finishing behind fellow AMU shooter Staff Sgt. Greg Markowski.

The number of .22 Rimfire Pistol Excellence-In-Competition Distinguished Badge recipients continues to grow since the badge was introduced in 2015. To date, nearly 30 have been awarded.

Junior Sam Kwon was the overall winner of the M9 Excellence-In-Competition Match during the Small Arms Firing School. During the course, students learn firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills through classwork, demonstrations and hands-on range firing.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (07/11/16) — The 2016 National Trophy Pistol Matches officially kicked off July 11 with an incredible show of historic tributes and the rise of today’s marksmanship talent on the ranges of Camp Perry Joint Training Center.

It all began with the traditional First Shot Ceremony, held this year at the Shooters’ Memorial Plaza in front of the Rodriguez Range. The Ohio National Guard’s 122nd Army Band played to the crowd as a World War II Navy TBM Avenger, B-25 bomber and B-17 bomber soared overhead, with bomb bay doors open. Pyrotechnic “bombs” exploded on the range in front of the stands — producing a cloud of smoke and resonating applause.

Colors were elegantly presented by WWII veteran Lloyd Boyer, who was dressed in his military uniform. The guest speaker for the ceremony was Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Board member Oscar Mahlon Love, who also had the honor of firing the ceremonial first bullet downrange to begin this year’s National Matches.

Among his many accomplishments, Love has been a Civilian Marksmanship Program Board member for the last 20 years. He is a retired executive vice president and director of the largest bank in New Mexico as well as a former commissioner of both the New Mexico State Police (and a graduate of their academy) and the New Mexico State Fair. Love is also a graduate and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Regional Graduate School of Banking and former chairman of the Albuquerque Public Safety Commission. A Civilian Aide Senior to the Secretary of the Army, Love has assisted on many governmental and private boards, and he is also very involved with youth-oriented activities.

“It is my great pleasure and distinct honor to have been asked to visit with you as we kick off the First Shot Ceremonies to begin the National Matches,” Love said to the crowd. “I’m in awe as I stand on this hallowed piece of ground.”

After the ceremony, the first official pistol match of the 2016 season unfolded during the Small Arms Firing School (SAFS). The school is led by the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) and military shooting team members, along with qualified CMP instructors. During the course, students learn firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills through classwork, demonstrations and hands-on range firing.

Following classroom instruction and practice on the range, each SAFS participant fires a true M9 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Match to gain a first-hand look at real competitive shooting and the opportunity to earn his or her first EIC points towards a prestigious Distinguished Badge.

Winning this year’s M9 EIC Match was junior Sam Kwon, 16, of New York, with a score of 269-2x. At the 2015 National Trophy Pistol Matches, Kwon was the overall winner of the Junior Individual Pistol Match, placed second in the Junior President’s Match and was third in the Overall Junior Pistol rankings.

With his success at last year’s event, he returned to the ranges of Camp Perry with the mindset of staying focused on achieving that same level of accomplishment.

“I was really excited for this year because I really didn’t expect to win anything last year, so coming back in, it kind of set a bar, in a way, that I had to do really well this year too,” Kwon said.

Though the two-handed grip on the M9 was quite a bit different from the one-handed stance Kwon was used to, his instructor, decorated AMU member Staff Sgt. Greg Markowski, helped him through the challenge.

“I had never really shot centerfire before or properly for any competition, and to have my own instructor teach me, it was a really, really cool experience,” Kwon said. “Centerfire can be sort of intimidating to some people. People think the kick is really high, but with the people that will teach you and the open classroom, I think it’s a really good experience for anyone.”

Following Kwon in second place in the match was Steve Turner, 49, of Elmhurst, Illinois, who fired a score of 265-4x, while Brandon Edwards, 38, of Alexandria, Kentucky, recorded a score of 263-2x for third.

As proof of the quality of instruction within the SAFS course, Markowski, 43, was the overall winner of the Service Pistol EIC Match, fired on July 12, with a score of 293-11x. Fellow AMU team members Sgts. 1st Class Lawrence Cleveland, 31, and James Henderson, 49, followed Markowski in second and third places, respectively — Cleveland with a score of 286-5x and Henderson with 284-9x.

In the .22 Rimfire EIC Pistol Match, fired at Nationals for only the second year, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Gasser, 33, of the AMU, recorded a score of 293-5x to become the overall winner. Jonathan Shue, 34, of Stafford, Virginia, and Sgt. Ryan Franks, 28, both fired a score of 292-11x, while Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Franks, 38, fell behind the two only by x-count, with a score of 292-6x.

Last June, just a few months after the badge was introduced, Gasser earned .22 Rimfire Pistol Badge No. 2 and Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Franks was the recipient of Distinguished Badge No. 3. The men were awarded their badges on stage during the 2015 National Pistol Matches at Camp Perry. Sgt. Ryan Franks went on to earn his badge in 2016, as did Shue.

More than 25 badges have been presented since the installation of the .22 Rimfire EIC Match in 2015. So far, no women have been awarded the new badge, leaving that history-making role open for some female competitor in the future.

2016 National Matches Links
(may not be accessible on ONG computer network)

For a complete list of updated National Pistol Matches results, visit

Photos of each event can be viewed and downloaded for free at http://cmp1.zenfolio.com/f352326966

Video highlighting the First Shot Ceremony at https://youtu.be/CtUXH9WQpWU

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.

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