We often feature success stories from the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, but here is the incredible story of the California Musketeers, a group of young shooters who used the program to develop and foster their love of shooting, and the coaches who helped guide them on their journey to Distinguished Experts. Thanks to Musketeers coach Michael Pass for the article and photos.
One day about nine years ago I was helping coach a Boy Scout troop that was firing for their shooting badge. As we finished up, a man I’d never seen before, Jack Weir, asked the coaches for our attention. He announced that he was starting a youth shooting club for kids and grandkids, ages eight to eighteen, of Diablo Rod and Gun Club members, (and later all of United Sportsmen, Inc.’s clubs), and asked for volunteer coaches. A few of us raised our hands, and California Musketeers was born.
For the first year or so it was going great. All the shooting was done prone at the 10-bull A-17 targets; but some of the kids were getting bored. At about that time one Saturday afternoon, I helped with a Basic Pistol class; one of the handouts was the booklet for the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program—and as I looked through it, the proverbial light bulb flickered…
I brought it up at the next officers meeting and was given a unanimous go-ahead. Some of the older teenage boys had been asking to shoot .22 handguns, and after I received the D1 Bianchi targets, we began. And we noticed an immediate improvement in their “interest rate!” More
East Kingston, New Hampshire -
Over the weekend we told you about 16 year-old Olivia Zocco earning her Distinguished Expert rating through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. Now we have news about a club in New Hampshire that runs the program at their facility and recently had a member earn his Distinguished Expert rating as well.
NRAblog recently spoke with Dean Osborne, Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Administrator at the State Line Field and Stream Club in East Kingston. Osborne coordinates club member’s participation in the program and understands its appeal to shooters of all levels.
“First of all, it’s self-paced and you can do it on your own time. Another thing is that you don’t need a specific type of firearm – you can use any type of firearm that you may have,” said Osborne. “It’s a structured course of competitive shooting, easy to follow, and uses qualified targets. It’s also easy to introduce everyone into the program.”
In the beginning of 2010, 16 year-old Olivia Zocco set her sights on earning a Distinguished Expert rating in the Handgun Category through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. Using a semi-automatic .22 caliber pistol, Zocco was able to reach her goal by the end of the year and shared her story and photos with NRAblog.
My name is Olivia Zocco and I am a Junior at Eagleville High School in Eagleville, Tennessee. I currently have a 4.0 GPA and am involved in Student Council, serving as Treasurer.
I was introduced to pistol shooting by my grandparents who both worked in law enforcement. I started shooting with them several years ago just for fun. I started working on my Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification certifications in January of 2010 with the goal to make Distinguished Expert by the end of the year. On November 21, 2010, I achieved this goal.
I may look into competitive pistol shooting in the future, but for now I am just happy to have achieved this goal.
Congratulations on earning Distinguished Expert, the highest rating in program, Olivia! To learn more about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program and view the courses of fire, check out the program's website or send an email to email@example.com.
For Brandy and Sean Blanton, there's nothing like a little sibling rivalry on the range. This brother and sister have made the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program a family affair, with both Brandy and Sean earning multiple Distinguished Expert ratings. The Blanton's wrote about their story in the latest issue of InSights, a magazine for young shooters.
One Family, Multiple Distinguished Experts
So how does a brother-and-sister team earn so many DE titles?
"So what sport do you play?" Sounds like a common question, right? For most people, I would say it comes with some pretty common answers. Some people would consider something like water polo to be a unique answer, but I think I've even got that beat. When I get asked that question, I proudly answer, "I'm a competitive shooter." Over the years, I've gotten all sorts of strange looks, but that hasn't stopped me from doing what I love. I love to shoot, whether I'm outside shooting shotgun or on the range shooting a pistol or a rifle.
The shooting sports have led me to all sorts of interesting places I may not have gone otherwise. I can say that I've stayed at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on three separate occasions, something most aspiring athletes never have the chance to experience. In the spring of 2008, I had the privilege to meet Jason Turner, a member of the U.S. Olympic Pistol Team who went on to win a bronze medal in free pistol. How many people do you know that can say they've met an Olympic medalist? Not many, but I'm more than proud of myself that I've managed to accomplish such a feat. How was it possible? The shooting sports!
Read the full article, including Sean's story, here.
Winchester repeating rifles were often enough among the most important tools a pioneer carried West. The famed firearms are named for Oliver Fisher Winchester, who died on this day 130 years ago. He founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1857. Today, the Winchester name is still alive and well in the firearms and ammunition business, and a familiar sight around the NRA.
In fact, this year, the NRA's Shooting Illustrated magazine presented the 2010 Golden Bullseye Award for "Ammunition Product of the Year" to Winchester Ammunition's Supreme Elite Conded PDX1. Winchester Ammunition is the exclusive sponsor of the The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program
Several famous Winchesters, first introduced to us by Senior Curator Doug Wicklund, are displayed in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum among the highlights of the popular Hollywood Guns collection.
- John Wayne’s Winchester Big-Loop carbine (pictured) from the movie Stagecoach.
- Lorne Greene’s Winchester Model 1873 carbine from the TV series Bonanza.
- Chuck Connors’ Winchester Model 1892 rifle from the TV show The Rifleman.
Want even more Winchesters? Teddy Roosevelt's favorite hunting rifle was a Winchester Model 1895, that Senior Curator Phil Schreier notes Roosevelt called "Big medicine for lions." Also, here's a record-setting Winchester Model 52. Then there's President Dwight Eisenhower's Winchester, and even this rare Winchester rifle-shotgun combo.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel ran an amazing story on 12-year old Fox Pettinotti's Marksmanship achievements:
Felton boy, 12, earns NRA's highest award, eyes possibility of Olympic shooting team
Fox Pettinotti is one of the lucky few who discovered at least one of his natural abilities early in life.
Fox, a 12-year-old Felton resident and seventh-grader at San Lorenzo Valley Nature Academy, spent most of the last year shooting bull's-eyes from 50 feet away -- in upright and kneeling positions, as well as lying down -- as a member of the Santa Clara Valley Rifle Club's junior program.
In July, when he was 11, he used one of the club's .22 bolt-action rifles at the indoor range of the San Jose Municipal Firing Range to complete the requirements for the 4-Position Rifle Qualification.
He now possesses the pinnacle of the NRA's Marksmanship Qualification Program, the Distinguished Expert Marksmanship Award, which shows he's at the same level as a competitively classified sharpshooter. And he had to meet the same requirements as adults at the same rating.
Club members presented him with the award, along with a wooden ammunition box and certificate, during a ceremony last month.
He's the youngest person to receive that rating in the 81-year history of the Santa Clara Valley club, and one of the youngest in the NRA's history.
Read the full story on Pettinotti's marksmanship here.
The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a self-paced recreational shooting program that provides participants with a fun and informal way to test shooting abilities while earning ratings in a variety of shooting disciplines. From Pro-Marksman to Distinguished Expert, shooters can advance through the ranks of marksmanship by completing courses of fire at any range and on their own time.
NRAblog recently interviewed Bob Morrison, President and CEO of Taurus Manufacturing International Inc., a company known for their pistols and revolvers, including the very popular Judge series of revolvers. Bob recently earned ratings in Shotgun qualification and shared his experience with NRAblog.
NRAblog: Why did you decide to participate in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program?
Bob Morrison: I was taking some NRA Certified Instructor courses when I learned of the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Courses. They intrigued me and I decided to attempt to get the Distinguished Rating in Skeet and Sporting Clays – then Trap.
What disciplines have you completed and what rating did you earn?
Distinguished Expert in both Skeet and Sporting Clays.
Are you looking to earn ratings in other disciplines?
Trap, Handgun and Rifle.
In your opinion, what are the benefits to the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program?
Recognition by the NRA for becoming an accomplished shot in a given discipline.
Would you recommend the program to others?
This is a program that builds on itself and renders a real sense of accomplishment to anyone who completes it all the way to the Distinguished award. I would recommend it highly to anyone who is involved in the shooting sports.
The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is open to people of all ages and skill levels. Throughout the process, shooters can earn rockers, patches, medals, and certificates as they move through the ranks. Learn more about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program at www.nrahq.org/education/training/marksmanship or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-267-1505 for more information.
Via the latest issue of SHOT Business Magazine:
Winchester Ammunition's Supreme Elite Conded PDX1 was recently presented with the 2010 Golden Bullseye Award for "Ammunition Product of the Year" by Shooting Illustrated magazine, one of the NRA's premier publications, during the NRA's 139th Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition, Winchester Ammunition pledged $500,000 to permanently endow the NRA's Marksmanship Qualification Program, thus becoming the exclusive sponsor of the offically renamed Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.
The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a self-paced shooting development program. Open to adults and youngsters alike, the program measures an individual's shooting proficiency against established par scores in 13 coureses of fire across three disciplines: pistol, rifle and shotgun.
Dick Hammet, president of Winchester Ammunition, said the company was honored by the award from Shooting Illustrated. "It means a great deal to us for our ammunition to be recognized as an award-winning product. Bonded PDX1 is the best of the best when it comes to personal defense ammunition, and our work with the FBI and this award continue to prove it."
Joe H. Graham, executive director of NRA publications said, "The Golden Bullseye Award honors our winners for bringing to market products remarkable in their utility to shooters and hunters. The award is a symbol of excellence and innovation in firearms, accessories and related equipment. We congratulate the winners."
Silver State Shooting Sports Association (SSSSA) is an NRA-affiliated club offering a variety of NRA programs to members and the public. Club President Dolores McNamara shared the following information on how SSSSA gets new people involved, particularly youth:
Our organization, the Silver State Shooting Sports Association, has trained more than 700 new junior shooters in the past seven years. We work with the Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, Civil Air Patrol cadets, ROTC and JROTC. These organizations have responded very well to our youth shooting programs and are regular participants. The youth are enthusiastically earning their patches, rockers and medals in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. SSSSA is the only shooting organization in our area actively and successfully conducting the rifle, pistol and shotgun programs we offer. We also recruit new youth shooters from all the Southern Nevada gun shows. Our youth programs enjoy the support of parents, too. Some of our young shooters have been with us for years. Many have progressed all the way to the Distinguished Expert awards. One of our shooters was invited to the “Winter Nationals” and has the potential of going to the Olympics in 2012. We are looking at possibly two other shooters for the Olympics and one for the Special Olympics.
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