By Gary Anderson, DCME
Eight American rifle and shotgun athletes earned prestigious U. S. Distinguished International Shooter Badges in 2019 with international championship performances that gave them the 30 or more International-Excellence-in-Competition (IEIC) credit points required to receive the Badge. 2019 honorees included a U. S. Army Sergeant and seven civilians. Five of the eight are women. The youngest is 18 years of age, the oldest is 31 and their average age is 23. Five are shotgun athletes, three are rifle competitors and one is a Paralympic athlete. Several are in contention for places on the USA’s 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Shooting Teams.
The Distinguished Badge Program, which traces its history to the first gold Distinguished Marksman Badges issued by the U. S. Army in 1884, now offers competitors opportunities to earn eight different gold Distinguished Badges. Of the eight different badges, the one that is arguably the most difficult to earn is the U. S. Distinguished International Shooters Badge. This is because to earn this badge a rifle, pistol or shotgun athlete must first qualify for a U. S. National Team that represents the USA in International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) or World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) Championships. ISSF Championships include the Olympic Games, World Shooting Championship, World Cups and Continental Championships. WSPS Championships for athletes with disabilities include the Paralympic Games and WSPS World Championships and World Cups.
But making a U. S. National Team is only the first step. To earn the badge, a National Team member must then earn 30 IEIC credit points in ISSF or WSPS Championships. IEIC credit points vary from 30 points that are awarded for Olympic and World Championship gold, silver or bronze medals or Paralympic Games gold medals to five points that that are awarded for third place finishes in Continental and Junior World Championships or Junior World Cups as well as for some first, second or third place team finishes. Regulations for awarding the International Distinguished Badge are found in current CMP Highpower Rifle and Pistol Rulebooks (http://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-competitions-rulebooks/).
The CMP administers the Distinguished Badge Program in accordance with authority granted to it by federal law (36 USC §40722 (3). USA Shooting (https://www.usashooting.org/) is the National Governing Body for Olympic Shooting and is responsible for the selection and training of U. S. National Teams that represent this country in ISSF or WSPS Championships.
2019 U. S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge winners listed in the order of their badge numbers are:
SGT Christian Elliott, U. S. Army, Age 22, Badge #523. Elliott is a shotgun athlete who competes for the U. S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia. Elliott emerged as an international skeet star in 2019 when he won a silver medal in the Changwon, Korea World Cup and a second international silver at the 2019 World Shotgun Championship in Lonato, Italy where he teamed with the legendary Kim Rhode in the Skeet Mixed Team event. Elliott capped his 2019 accomplishments by winning a gold medal in the 2019 Pan American Games Skeet Men event. The 2019 Pan Am Games were in Lima, Peru.
Samantha Simonton, Gainesville Ga, Age 20, Badge #524. Ms. Simonton is a shotgun athlete who earned 20 of her IEIC credit Points in international junior events. She qualified for the USA Senior Women’s Skeet Team that competed in the 2019 Shotgun World Championship where she teamed with Kim Rhode and Dana Vizzi to establish a World Team Record and earn the last IEIC points for her badge.
Austen Smith, Kellar TX, Age 18, Badge #525. Ms. Smith is another of the outstanding junior skeet athletes in the USA. She first qualified for a U. S. National Junior Team in 2017 when she won her first international medal, a silver. She headlined her 2019 performances in the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany where she won the gold medal in the Skeet Junior Women event and joined teammates Samantha Simonton and Monika Jacob to win the Skeet Junior Women Team event and set a new Junior World Record.
Brian Burrows, Fallbrook CA, Age 31, Badge #526. Burrows is a trap athlete who won his first international medal, a silver, in the 2013 Acapulco, Mexico World Cup Trap Men event. His 2019 accomplishments included another Acapulco World Cup silver in the Trap Mixed Team event and a gold medal in the Pan American Games Trap Men event. His Pan Am Games gold also earned a coveted 2020 Olympic Games Participation Quota for the USA, an accomplishment that earns extra IEIC credit points.
Alison Weisz, Belgrade MT, Age 24, Badge #527. Ms. Weisz is a rifle athlete whose international wins included a silver medal in the 2018 Championship of the Americas and a gold medal in the 2019 Pan American Games, both in the 10m Air Rifle Women event. Weisz’s Pan Am Games gold also earned an Olympic Participation Quota for the USA
Lucas Kozeniesky, Colorado Springs CO, Age 24, Badge #528. Kozeniesky is a rifle athlete who was a rifle team member at North Carolina State University, qualified for the U. S. Olympic Team that competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and won a 10m Air Rifle Men silver medal in the 2018 Championship of the Americas. He now trains at the U. S. Olympic Shooting Center at Colorado Springs. His biggest 2019 accomplishment came in the Pan American Games where he won the Air Rifle Men gold medal and a 2020 Olympic Games Participation Quota.
Aeriel Skinner, Jackson CA, Age 25, Badge #530. Ms. Skinner is a shotgun athlete whose international championship accomplishments include winning one gold medal and two bronze medals in international Trap Women events. Her crowning achievement came at the 2019 World Cup Final in Al Ain, UAE where she won the gold medal in the Trap Women event. She finished 2019 ranked 4th in the world in this event.
McKenna Dahl, Arlington WA, Age 23, Badge #531. McKenna Dahl is a Paralympic athlete who also trained at the Olympic Training Center. She first gained international recognition when she won a bronze medal in the 2016 Paralympic Games in the 10m Mixed Air Rifle Prone SH2 event. That gave her 15 IEIC credit points. In 2019 she capped that off with a gold medal in the Pan American Games Mixed 10m Air Rifle Stand SH2 event. She is classified as an SH2 athlete who competes by shooting with her rifle supported on a special stand designed for this purpose.
The U. S. Government’s decision to establish the U. S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge was initiated by the CMP’s predecessor agency, the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, during the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Union (USSR) was dominating international shooting competitions in the Olympics and World Championships at that time and leaders of the NBPRP and Army Marksmanship Unit were seeking ways to encourage the development of U. S. marksmen who could “beat the Russians” and win in these international championships. A detailed history of this Distinguished Badge is posted on the CMP website at http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/USDISBHistory.pdf. After the first International Distinguished Badges were presented in 1963 to U. S. shooters who won medals in the 1962 World Championship, the awarding of the Badge was made retroactive to recognize U. S. international medal winners going back to the end of the 19th century. The most recent badge awarded in 2019 bears serial number 531. This roster of badge winners covers over 120 years of history involving some truly remarkable American rifle, pistol and shotgun competitors.
To find a list of current International Distinguished Badge winners, visit https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=reportDistinguishedShootersByCriteria&filter=distinguished_type&filter_value=INTERNATIONAL.
Help us locate the most recent Badge winners. If you have contact information for the following individuals, please forward it onto Vera Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Wilfred Blanchard III – #489 – Shotgun – 2010
· Rachael Heiden – #491 – Shotgun – 2012
· Katharina Monika Jacob – #512 – Shotgun – 2016
· Brain Burrows 522 – Shotgun – 2019
· Austen Jewell Smith – #525 – Shotgun – 2019
· Aeriel Skinner – #530 – Shotgun – 2019
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.