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MARKSMANSHIP UNIT

 

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   Champions have the ability to make it to the top and stay there, but they also need something else -- support personnel.

          Stock car drivers, for instance, have their pit crew. The drivers win the races and the pit crew, well; do you know the names of every man on Dale Earnhart Jr.’s crew? Most people don’t. The crew usually remains unseen by the public eye.

          At Ft. Benning’s U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), where top shooters compete in national and international matches on a regular basis, support is essential.

          Expert gunsmiths are needed, because, next to shooting ability, the objective is to have the best possible equipment available to compete with.

          "When a shooter wins in national or international competition, the only people interested in who built the gun used are the other competitors. In fact, they may be more interested in who built the gun rather than in who won the match.

          Even the best shooter in the world can not compete successfully if he or she is competing against people who have better arms and ammunition than he or she does. The standards are so high and the achievement levels among the top ten shooters are so close together, that significantly large variations in equipment offset match results." Quoted Mr. Robert Alyward, USAMU’s Deputy Commander.

          For this reason, accuracy in firearms and ammunition has to be close to perfect

          The USAMU has its own "pit crew" to work behind the scene, perfecting the weapons its shooters use in competition. The "shop", as it is called, is made up of several sections including service rifle, custom rifle, pistol, machinist, ammunition hand loading, parts supply, and range and target maintenance, including quality control and testing.

          All of this is manned by military and civilian personnel who were chosen to work with the unit. The gunsmiths were selected "because they have the knowledge, and showed their ability in GUNSMITHING," according to Sergeant First Class Steven C. Young, NCOIC for the USAMU shop.

          Gunsmiths are recruited from the major gunsmithing colleges and have at least an associate’s degree in GUNSMITHING.

          The shop could be called the backbone of the Marksmanship Unit. It was one of the first sections formed when the unit began in 1956 because "you can’t consistently stay on top without the most accurate weapons," said Young.

          Chief of the Custom Firearms Shop at USAMU, Mr. W.O. Harden, relates that the Army’s prestige in winning competitive shooting depends upon the accuracy and reliability of its equipment.

          "We have a continuing need for improving our competitive shooting equipment to maintain the advantage, while passing on this knowledge to the Force to help fight the Global War on Terrorism." he said.

 

 

 

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Page created on: October 15, 2001