By Danielle Sturgis | April 12 2010 08:50
Justin McDaniel wrote the following article for and was kind enough to share it with us:
First Hunter earns top Marksmanship Rating
Founded by Winchester in 1918 as the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps and transferred to NRA in 1926, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program has been used by thousands of shooting coaches and hunter education instructors as a way to help youngsters develop their shooting skills and grow their interest in the sport.

Many of you reading this article probably even have patches and pins stashed away in closets and drawers from when you participated in marksmanship qualification as a youth.

Although the program is widely popular within the shooting community, many people don’t realize that both adults and kids can take part in the program, or that there is now a hunting marksmanship component. In fact, the new Hunter Marksmanship Qualification discipline, as it is known, recently reached an important milestone in its young history, recording its very first Distinguished Expert, the program’s highest honor, which was attained by a 61-year-old lifelong hunter and shooter.

Bob Plyler of Asheville, N.C., killed a 10-point whitetail on Nov. 20, 2009, in Halifax County, N.C., to achieve his Distinguished Expert rating. Plyler made an off-hand, 170-yard shot on the buck (pictured above) with his Savage .243 while hunting from a treestand on private property.

Plyler is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol and shotgun instructor, as well as an NRA-certified Range Safety Officer and NRA Hunter Clinic Instructor. He originally decided to give marksmanship qualification a try just to increase his knowledge of the program, which he said would give him the credibility to talk about it with his students. However, after participating in the program, he discovered that it actually improved his shooting, and he’s continued working to earn higher and higher ratings in many of the program’s 13 disciplines.

“I think it’s a superb program,” he said. “I’m associated with law enforcement—I have two sons that are police officers—so I shoot with a lot of cops. I’ve always been decent, but now I can shoot a handgun as good as them any day. I’m shooting for a purpose, which has just made me a better overall shooter.

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