We love hearing about success stories from the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, and Paul J. Bartoszewicz of Smyrna, Georgia has a great story to share. After seeing a Winchester shirt adorned with qualification patches and rockers on the back of the program booklet, Paul decided that he wanted one just like it.

Selecting the Handgun qualification as his first discipline, Paul began his qualification process as the Wild West Traders Range in Marietta, Georgia this January. Shooting a Ruger Mark III .22 caliber pistol with CCI Mini-Mag 22 LR HP ammunition, Paul worked his way through the courses of fire and obtained his Distinguished Expert Rating on December 6th.

Paul Bartoszewicz poses with his Distinguished Expert shirt

"Thank You...My Pistol Qualification is NEXT IN 2012!!!", said Paul in an email to Qualification Program Coordinator Sheri Judd.

Congratulations on earning your Distinguished Expert rating, Paul! We look forward to seeing you add to that shirt in 2012!

Do you have a Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification story to share? Send us an email at goblog@nrahq.org. Visit the program website to learn how you can get started on your own qualification journey. With over 15 firearm disciplines to choose from, you can become an expert in just about anything!

For many people, the shootings sports is a lifelong passion that begins in their youth and carries them into adulthood. For Justin Magruder, his love of shooting began at camp when he was introduced to the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. Decades later, Magruder has returned to the self-paced marksmanship program to earn his Expert rating and continue on into other shooting disciplines. But he's also looking to help his daughters (pictured with Magruder) develop the same interest in the shooting sports. Here's a look at what Magruder told NRAblog:

Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Participant Justin Magruder with his daughters NRAblog: How did you get started in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program?

Magruder: When I was a kid in the early 1970’s, I attended Camp Winona in Bridgeton Maine. I really enjoyed both archery and riflery, as well as several outdoor survival and athletic activities.

What ratings have you earned and in what disciplines? Are you looking to add more disciplines?

Over the course of three years at Winona I earned my Marksman, Pro Marksman badges and a Sharpshooter medal with 3 bars in .22 long rifles. I was also qualified as a Maine Woodsman, which is a survival and conservation program run by the Maine Youth Camping Foundation.


We love hearing from our readers and members about their success stories with NRA's shooting programs. Here's a letter received from Kelly Hagman about how he and his fellow club members in Kansas are enjoying climbing the ranks to Distinguished Expert in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program:

Joseph Compton, Kelly Hagman, and Kelly Newboles with their marksmanship awards

Dear NRA Qualification Program Coordinator,

Enclosed are three DE Recognition Reports for Joseph Compton, Kelly Newboles, and myself.

Also enclosed is one photo of the three of us receiving our Expert awards for Handgun. Left to right are Joseph Compton, Kelly Hagman, and Kelly Newboles. Just after this picture was taken, Kelly Newboles shot and qualified for his Distinguished Expert. He really did a superlative job.

As a youth, I was a member of the Defender’s Junior Rifle Club in Hugoton, Kansas. Under my instructor’s watchful eye, (Clayton “Pete” Taylor) I enjoyed many competitions across Kansas, Colorado, and Texas. I was qualified all the way to Expert in Smallbore Rifle at 50ft. Your award medals were impressive and I have cherished them ever since.


Below is part of a letter William Prutz of Kronenwetter, Wisconsin wrote to Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Coordinator Sheri Judd. After becming involved in shotgun shooting, Prutz’s son Ben earned a Distinguished Expert rating in Trap through the program. Below is the story of how Ben went from a BB gun shooting Boy Scout to an accomplished trap shooter, and how his family became involved in the shooting sports as well:

Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Logo This journey began with a NRA BB gun Qualification patch about six years ago while shooting at the Akela’s World Cub Scout Camp, part of the Crystal Lake Scout Reservation in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Then in 2009, my son Ben came home from the Tesomas Boy Scout Camp (also part of the Crystal Lake Scout Reservation) with the shotgun and rifle merit badges earned. Last fall, he was invited with his Boy Scout Troop 451 from Kronenwetter, Wisconsin to shoot trap one night at the Weston Hit and Miss Trap Club near Weston, Wisconsin. He did well and they took his name and asked him to join the AIM team.


Here's a letter that Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Coordinator Sheri Judd received from Mark Montgomery of Ohio about his experience with the program:

Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Logo

You might get thousands of letters like this one, but on the off-chance that you don't get to hear about the fun that some of us are having out here on the fruited plains, I thought a letter was in order.

Your Marksmanship program is fun. Truly, fun. The kind of fun that occupies your mind when you are going to bed, and interrupts your breakfast with thoughts of what might get done next.

Some of it is easy, like the Handgun Action Pistol requirements, which we pounded out in one day. And some of it is ridiculously hard, like the International Air Rifle, which I have been working on for five months and if I ever get Expert, I am going to have it tatooed on my forehead.

But that's probably the way your program was designed. If it was, then well done. If it was an accident, then God must smile on the good-hearted.

Frank Alcorn and I have decided to try to level up as far as we can in every category for which we qualify. We have designed record keeping and scoring sheets that now comprise a very cool three ring binder. We have patch, medal and pin award sections hung on our walls. We make weekly plans to get together for our next rocker run.

We also invite our friends and family members to take part and expect enthusiasm to be our best recruiting tool.

So, just in case it has been a while since you had a thumbs up from the peanut gallery, here's to a job well done.

Mark Montgomery

Thanks for the kind words, Mark, and keep working towards Expert in International Air Rifle! Learn more about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program online, or send an email to marksmanship@nrahq.org.

Thanks to Michael Robinson from California, who shared his story about his journey through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program:

Even though I grew up in a military household, I would strike most people as an unlikely candidate to become an NRA triple distinguished expert.

I’m a San Francisco Bay Area resident who never fired a pistol or a rifle until I was 52 years old. But in less than two years, I had achieved the highest ranking available under the marksmanship program. That’s the power of the Winchester/NRA handbook given to gun-safety students. Typically, they’re youngsters. But the program immediately piqued my interest.

You see, I love following detailed action plans for success. At the end of a handgun safety class in May 2009, an instructor handed me the NRA/Winchester qualification book.

I saw the step-by-step way to rise in the shooting ranks and immediately started going to the range. I was so motivated I made my pistol rating in four months. Then I focused on rifle. I completed that rating with a stock $300 .22 caliber equipped with a $50 rear peep sight and a front blade. I qualified one target with a scope just to prove I could.

Shotgun proved to be the most difficult discipline for me. Ironically, that’s the one shooting sport in which I had experience. My dad, a retired Marine Corps officer and weapons expert, bought me a shotgun as a Christmas gift when I was 17.

In college I had very few opportunities to shoot. Then in my senior year, that shotgun was stolen. Shortly thereafter, I went bird hunting and used a friend’s 12 gauge. I dropped a 10-pound Canadian goose on the first shot. After that I went shooting only one other time in 30 years.

Now you know why I’m a huge fan of the Winchester/NRA program and urge people to get involved. It gives you focus and discipline. Both my teenage daughters shoot as does my wife, who is a native of Berkeley, CA.

And to think, this whole odyssey began simply because I wanted the NRA to teach me gun safety. So, thank you NRA and Winchester for a great program. I’ve learned it’s never too late to become a good shot. And a safe one.

Thanks again for sharing your story, Michael! For more information on the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, visit the program's website or send an email to marksmanship@nrahq.org.  

We frequently cover different stories about programs for youth, but on a recent visit to NRA Headquarters, 10 year-old McKenzie Adamowicz roamed the halls of NRA to find out what kind of things young people can participate in. From air gun competitions to firearms training, our Youth Programs Department, Eddie Eagle®, YHEC, and the National Firearms Museum, McKenzie had quite a few stops to make. She even made a few friends along the way, albeit the furry kind. Check out her visit in the photo slideshow above.

Newark, New Jersey - Ranges and clubs across the United States are reaching out to their respective communities through NRA programs like the Youth Hunter Education Challenge, NRA Day, and the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. One such example exist about three hours north of us at the Gun For Hire's new South Jersey location in Winslow.

"We opened two additional locations less than a year ago," explained Gun For Hire CEO Anthony Colandro. "It can be easy to lose site of the important things, like how we serve the community. That's why when one of our RSOs, ah Chuck Berwick to be specific, that's why when Chuck said he wanted to start using the NRWinchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, I told him to run with it."


The Daily News Journal out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee puts the spotlight on 16-year-old Distinguished Expert Olivia Zocco, who we featured earlier this year:

Teen right on target

We might think high school girls have hobbies that typically include shopping, hanging out at their friends' houses and spending hours on the phone.

But, for 16-year-old Olivia Zocco of Rockvale, her hobbies include outdoor firing ranges, gun safety and the National Rifle Association. In January 2010, Zocco began working to earn a Distinguished Expert rating in the handgun category through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. It took her less than a year to achieve this goal.

"The Distinguished Expert rating is the highest level of achievement in the program that consists of seven levels," explained Zocco. "The first six levels in the course are based on the honor system as to whether or not the shooter met the requirement to move up in the program. However, for the Distinguished Expert rating, the actual shooting and scoring must be witnessed by an NRA instructor with a current ID number."

Zocco had to go through the eight-hour gun safety class that included hands-on instruction at the shooting range. This is the same class required by the state of Tennessee to obtain a permit to carry a weapon. The next six levels have various requirements necessary to jump to the next level, and each level has a different course of fire that must be achieved to obtain the raking for that level.

"Each course of fire has a certain amount of rounds that are to be fired in a certain time, with a certain calculated score using various hand positions," said Zocco.

To obtain the rank of Sharpshooter, Zocco had to fire five rounds with both her left and right hands within a 20-second time frame. After all 10 rounds were on the target, a score had to be calculated. For that course of fire, Zocco had to acquire 10 targets.


Read the rest of the The Daily News Journal article here.

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