Tomorrow morning officially kicks off the 2013 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships on Forth Benning, just outside Columbus, Georgia.

The championships are a part of the 2nd Annual Army Strong Collegiate Shooting Championships. Hosted by the United States Marksmanship Unit, the event is the largest multi-discipline, shoulder to shoulder, collegiate shooting sports championship event in the United States.

The USAMU’s headquarters is home to a collection of top of the line ranges that will easily accommodate the pistol shooters, who have been attending the championships here for years.

Over the next three days over 100 collegiate shooters, representing 16 colleges from all over the United States, will determine this year’s National Collegiate Individual and Team champions in Intercollegiate Free Pistol, Standard Pistol, Open Air Pistol, Women’s Air Pistol and Women’s Sport Pistol.

Championships invitations are extended to the top teams and shooters after the annual NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Sectionals, where overall ability is assessed.

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.

Of note this year is the absence of both individual champions from 2012, Nick Mowrer of Pikes Peak Community College and Emily Meyer of the United States Naval Academy. Both graduated last year and leave a power vacuum at the top – especially in Mowrer’s case.

A four-time Open Aggregate winner, Mowrer’s skill often eclipsed his competitors as he won the individual aggregates by leads of roughly 100 points. For example, behind Mowrer’s winning 1700 last year the next four scores were 1603, 1601, 1595 and 1591.

An unparalleled shooter during his time at the championships, the competition for this year’s title will be much closer. Three of last year’s top five shooters return and I’m sure they are hungry for the chance at a title.

And while the 2012 Women’s Aggregate champion Emily Meyer is gone, the 2011 and 2010 champions are still here.

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With no defending individual champions the titles are wide open. No shooter will have the weight of defending a title hanging over their head. We’re guaranteed to see new faces on stage during Thursday’s award ceremony.

On the team side of things, ten-time Open champion United States Military Academy has not gone anywhere, neither has three-time Women’s champion U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

There will be a great deal of bustling here at the USAMU’s range over the next week as the Army championships play host to five other events including the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships this weekend. The Army will also perform a show of capabilities during the Army Strong Experience that will demonstrate their latest vehicles, firearms, ordnance, airborne and more.

Shots for record begin bright, but not too early, at 9:00 AM tomorrow.

Images courtesy NRA Blog

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