By Kerrin Brinkman | May 22 2011 10:25

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  

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