The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and Fort Benning is gearing up to once again host the Army Strong Collegiate Shooting Championships March 8-17, bringing more than 300 junior and collegiate shooters to the post.

The dynamic format, introduced a year ago, pits the nation’s best against in each other in six distinct championships: the National Rifle Association Intercollegiate Pistol Championships; the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship; the Scholastic Steel Challenge (SSC) Collegiate Championship; the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Challenge; the Scholastic Pistol Program (SPP) Collegiate Championship; and Association of College Unions International (ACUI) East Coast Clay Target Championship.

Building upon the success and enthusiasm of last year’s inaugural event, the SPP and ACUI were added to this year’s program. The USAMU connects to America’s youth through teaching, coaching, and mentoring junior shooters throughout the year, and Soldiers make ideal mentors and role models for our nation’s youth.  In these respects, the Army’s hosting of this event is a perfect fit.

“The USAMU is the ideal location to hold a shooting competition of this magnitude,” said Lt. Col. Don King Jr., USAMU commander. “These collegiate and junior championships are on par with the numerous World Cups, Olympic Trials and National Championships we have hosted throughout the years. We have some of the best shooters, instructors and gunsmiths in the world right here and I can’t think of a better place for our nation’s next generation of shooters to test their skills against their peers and see who has what it takes to be the best.”

The ASCSC aligns directly with the youth and collegiate shooting programs of the five organizations bringing their championships to Fort Benning, which all foster participation in prestigious competitions while using shooting sports programs to teach teamwork, sportsmanship, responsibility, integrity and other positive life skills to the athletes.

More than 200 colleges and universities have rifle and pistol programs affiliated with the NRA. Those earning sports at this year’s championships include Clemson, Ohio State, Univ. of Michigan, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, Penn State and the Virginia Military Institute.

Junior shooters from Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas, Massachusetts, and other states will compete in the SCTP Challenge. USAMU Soldier and 2012 Olympian Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond is an alum of the SCTP and credits his success in shotgun shooting to the skills he developed early on in his career as a member of the SCTP. The SCTP, along with the SPP, both fall under the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation.

The ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships program provides a quality experience for students that teaches them fair play, concentration, logic skills, and enhances interpersonal relationships. The 2012 program featured 535 students representing 57 schools from across the United States. The top teams from this match will advance to the prestigious national championship held in San Antonio every year.

The SSC provides the opportunity for junior and collegiate shooters to participate in the exciting and challenging family sport of “speed steel.” The competitive format is based on the Steel Challenge, the nation’s most successful handgun competition. The adapted program provides a safe-yet-action packed competition. West Point will be among the favorites at this year’s match.

Hosting the most prestigious of matches has become as synonymous to the “Home of Champions” as winning national and world championships. A number of world-class championships have been held on the ranges of the USAMU in the past few years, including International Shooting Sports Federation World Cups, an International Paralympic Committee World Cup, USA Shooting National Rifle and Pistol Championships, the annual U.S. Army Small Arms Championships, and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Smallbore Team Trials. In May, the unit will once again host another ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup.

“Last month we hosted more than 200 of the country’s best Soldiers in a shooting competition, in May we play host to hundreds of the world’s top rifle and pistol shooters, so it’s only fitting that in between we get a chance to see hundreds of the top college and junior shooters here at the ‘Home of Champions,’” King said.

For a complete schedule of events, go to www.usamu.com.

Logo courtesy US Army Marksmanship Unit

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