Gunnery Sergeant Brian Zins retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in May 2008 and now works as National Manager of NRA Pistol Programs in the Competitive Shooting division. He has a total of nine National Match wins under his belt after a win at this past year’s Camp Perry.
Zins’ decorated career of shooting began when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in April 1988. Upon completion of the Recruit Training program at Paris Island, South Carolina, he attended the Military Police School at Lakeland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. At the school Zins received the “Top Gun” Award for having the highest qualification score with the 1911 Service Pistol.
After arriving at his first assignment as an MP, he was immediately sent to the rifle range for re-qualification. His skill was recognized and he was asked to compete in an upcoming match. With an impressive showing Zins was assigned to be a Primary Marksmanship Instructor for a year before competing in various competitions and adding many medals to his count, bringing his total leg points to 24.
Zins next found himself assigned to the Weapons Training Battalion (WTBn) in Quantico, Virginia, as a permanent member of the Marine Corps Pistol Team. The teams were then tasked with running a Mobile Training Team at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to assist in training thousands of Marines to be deployed to Southwest Asia.
In 1991, Zins became the first Lance Corporal to become Pistol Distinguished and went on the place second overall in 1992 at the NRA National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. On the Pistol Team, Zins won the Inter-service Pistol Championship in 1993 and 1994. He was then ordered to Iwakuni, Japan in 1994 as a Military Police Patrol Supervisor, Watch Commander, and Hostage Rescue Team’s designated marksman. In 1996, Zins won his first NRA National Pistol Championship and was meritoriously promoted to Staff Sergeant.
For the next three and a half years, Zins was a recruiter in the Detroit area, but was still able to find time to compete, and win, in the 1998 National Matches. Zins returned to WTBn in July of 2001 after completing his recruiting duty. He once again entered in the NRA’s National Matches. Despite his short hiatus from competitive shooting, Zins won the National Title and went on to win it for four more consecutive years.
In September 2004, Zins was reassigned within WTBn to the Marksmanship Program Management Section (MPMS) as a doctrine developer, where he helped in the implementation of a new qualification course for the entire Marine Corps. After his work with MPMS, he was reassigned to the Pistol Team in 2006 as the Staff Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge. That same year Zins set two National records, the Center Fire 900 and Center Fire Timed Fire, and tied the .45 National Match Course record. He finished second in the 2006 Nationals by a two-point deficit, postponing his eighth win until the following year, where he also set a new National Matches Record Score for the Military Police Corps Trophy.
In addition to his impressive nine National Championship wins, Zins has also won a multitude of State and Regional competitions all across the United States. His personal military decorations from his career in the Marine Corps include a Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, six Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, and Meritorious Service Medal.