By Kyle Jillson | March 15 2013 07:58

Team Aggregate goes to the U.S. Military Academy and Cadet Stephen Bowden of The Citadel wins Individual

2013 Intercollegiate Pistol Team Aggregate champions United States Military Academy
Members of the United States Military Academy's Pistol Team, the 2013 NRA Intercollegiate National Champions.

Columbus, Georgia - After three grueling days of battling back-and-forth with service academy rival Navy, the Black Knights of West Point pulled ahead to capture this year's aggregate to become the National NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Champions of 2013.

The aggregate is comprised of scores from three separate matches; the Free Pistol, Standard Pistol and Open Air Pistol championships. Scoring 2004, 2114 and 2208 respectively, the Army cadets tallied a final total of 6326 pointsout of a possible 7200.

The United States Military Academy's win was no easy accomplishment. Not only was the Naval Academy constantly nipping at their heels (narrowly missed the title themselves), but teams from MIT, the University of Utah and The Citadel were coming strong too. In the end, Army finished with more ups than downs to emerge victorious after the final match.

How did they pull it off? By focusing on the basics.

"Eye alignment, trigger control, and encouraging each shooter to execute their shot plan while avoiding distractions," said coach LTC Duston Saunders (RET). "If a cadet has a bad shot they can't dwell on it and, most importantly, they should focus on the shot ahead.

"The shot you're shooting right now, that's the important one. You do that and you'll do well."

2013 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Individual Aggregate champion Stephen Bowden of The Citadel
Cadet Stephen Bowden (center) congratulated on winning NRA's National Intercollegiate Pistol title.

This is West Point's 11th National Team title since the championship's started back in 1986 as well as their fourth title in five years.

Army's team included the year's top female shooter, Heather Deppe, who took the title after a razor thin finish in Wednesday's Women's Sport Pistol match.

What West Point didn't have was the competition's top overall shooter. Neither did that Naval Academy. That honor fell to the military college of South Carolina.

Cadet Stephen Bowden of The Citadel earned that distinction and the title of National Champion. Although he didn't place in a single match, his totals in Free, Standard and Open Air pistol matches gave him an overall total of 1609 out of 1800.

It was Bowden's steady shooting that prevailed in the end. He wasn't expecting to win. In fact, when the senior's name was called during the awards ceremony, it came as a complete surprise.

"I didn't think I had a shot at the aggregate. I honestly had no idea I'd won," Bowden said. "I was really excited and proud. Both the team and I didn't do very well last year and I made a personal challenge to come back and do as well as I could."

Just like last year, the two top individual shooters will graduate at the end of the year — leaving a vacuum for 2014's solo hopefuls. But it's too soon to start talking about next year. Instead, we'll let the new champions bask in the bright Georgia sun.

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