"...The important thing about my being at Perry is not so much the win, or the new record, or the achievement. The important thing is just being back among good friends, and good shooters, and all 'round good folks. I didn't realize how much I had missed that aspect of these championships. Doing well is just icing on the cake." —National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky in Shooting Sports USA, November, 1992
The shooting game is perhaps unique among sports in that championship-level practitioners often remain at the top of their form for years, if not decades. An obvious case-in-point is, of course, Lones Wigger Jr., who before his untimely passing in 2017 was winning for over 40 years. All that said, there is no one who has combined longevity with versatility better than Carl Bernosky of Ashland, PA.
In the first 28 years of its contention, no civilian had won the National Smallbore Position Championship. Then, in 1985, 4-time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky broke the military spell to become the first civilian winner, beating the normally unconquerable Lones Wigger Jr. by 10 points.
Bernosky's first Open National Championship came in 1977 when he squeaked by Californian Bill Stratman by a margin of one point to win that year's High Power rifle title, and in the process defended his Collegiate title won the year before. And that began a streak of four consecutive Open National High Power Championships; he added a fifth Match Rifle title in 1981 but was denied the Open award (by a single point) by D.I. Boyd's outstanding performance with the Service Rifle. During this period he was tapped to be an instructor at the NRA's High Power Match Rifle Clinic at Camp Perry in 1980. His fellow instructors were Gary Anderson, Creighton Audette and Middleton Tompkins.
Carl Bernosky then concentrated on smallbore position shooting and did rather well at that, too. His success came as no surprise as he finished second nationally (with a 798x800) in the 1980 National Indoor Rifle Championships. In 1985 he became the first civilian to win the National Smallbore Position Championship, bringing to an end the 9-year consecutive run of Position Championships accumulated by Lt. Col. Lones Wigger Jr., USA. Bernosky's efforts in position shooting were oriented toward the international game and he's been a member of several international teams since the 1980s.
Bernosky in 1979 at Camp Perry. He is considered one of the best standing shooters the rifle game has ever seen.
Bernosky returned to the National High Power scene in 1992 when he picked up another National Championship and, in the mid-1990s, after a quick foray into Sporting Clays and the Sportsman's Team Challenge, took up Action Pistol shooting. He is a regular and successful competitor at the NRA Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championship.
Once again, in 2000, Bernosky won the National High Power Championship, his seventh. As of 2018, he is a 10-time NRA National High Power Champion, winning most recently in 2012. And, don't forget that Mr. Bernosky is a 2-time NRA National Smallbore Rifle Champion. This gentleman can shoot.
Does this variegated menu of competition help? Obviously, it doesn't hurt Carl Bernosky. He asserts that while the principles of marksmanship apply across the board, each discipline has its unique features that demand special attention.
One is tempted to wonder what he will take up next; whatever it is he will no doubt enjoy continued success.
Today Carl Bernosky builds custom rifles and gunstocks. He competes at the NRA World Shooting Championship every year, still ranking high on the event leaderboard.