By Kerrin Brinkman | April 19 2012 10:38

Each year, tens of thousands of people participate in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program to improve their shooting skills and learn new disciplines. At one club in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is making a difference and helping people reach their shooting goals.

Shooters participate in the Winchester/NRA Pistol qualification at the Cheyenne Rifle & Pistol Club

Eric Dent and Elvin Wrede and I are members of the Cheyenne Rifle and Pistol Club. We are NRA Instructors too. For a number of years, we have been members of the Cheyenne Rifle and Pistol Club and participated both as instructors and line coaches in the Club's NRA Basic Pistol classes. During that time, many students have mentioned how there isn't a place to shoot in Cheyenne unless you are a member of a private gun club. This is true. Our club is private along with the only other gun club in the area. The membership application period for Cheyenne Rifle is unusually long due to the fact we limit the number of members based on the Club's original charter.

This past fall we petitioned the Board of Directors to sponsor a Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Pistol program so both members and nonmembers would have an opportunity to shoot. The response was tremendous! Dubbing the program "Practice with a Purpose", we told potential attendees that if they're getting better at shooting then they might as well earn some recognition for their efforts. In addition, we stressed the fact that they were NOT in competition with anyone but themselves and their ability to improve their skills each week.

Members of the Cheyenne Rifle & Pistol Club show off their Women On Target Distinguished Expert Awards through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program

The program officially started in the middle of November 2011 and will run through the last Sunday of April 2012. We signed up a total of 33 participants including nine women and one junior. So far, 27 shooters have reached the "Distinguished Expert" level. That is an 82% success rate. Before the end of the month, I am sure our remaining shooters will make it there too.

We plan on asking the Board's permission to run the program again for the 2012-1013 winter season. If it is approved, we expect even a larger turn out. After all, everyone had an absolute ball with the program and some to return next winter just to keep up their skills and FOR FUN!

Thanks for sharing your story and photos, Eric and Elvin! Keep up the good work! To learn more about the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program, click here or send an email to

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