AMU Team Breaks Records At 56th Interservice Rifle Championships

by
at U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit posted on August 23, 2017
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The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) won first place in all five team and 10 of 13 individual matches during the 56th Interservice Rifle Championships in Quantico, VA. The championships were hosted by the U.S. Marine Corps Weapons Training Battalion from July 26 to August 2. The match fosters competition and information sharing among Department of Defense armed services.

Sgt. 1st Class Shane Barnhart, AMU Service Rifle Team coach since 2015, said the team’s goal was to represent the Army well, and he couldn’t be happier with team’s performance.

“We came into this match with high expectations; everyone performed well,” said Barnhart who is an Ashley, OH, native. “It is our mission to dominate this event. We accomplished our goals, and that feels real good.”

The AMU won the prestigious 10-Man Interservice Rifle Team Championship title, setting a new record of 4942-231X along the way. They bested the old record, which was set by another AMU team in 1999by nine shots. Sgt. 1st Class Evan Hess (Mount Pleasant, TX) and Sgt. 1st Class Walter Craig (Cleveland, TN) coached the winning team for the match.

“Our expectations are always to break records, especially in a championship like this with all the best military shooting teams here competing,” said Craig. “Our team performed phenomenally. They executed the game plan to perfection and did everything I asked them to.”

In the other team events, the AMU swept the competition by taking first place in every event including the Infantry Team Match, the Commanding General Team Match, and the 1000-yard team match with both Open and Service Rifle Divisions. In addition to winning both divisions of the 1000-yard team match, the two competing AMU teamsTeam Barnhart and Team Craigcreated new records by toppling two former AMU team records set in 2012.

Continuing the Army’s legacy of excellence is something these expert marksmen train for. And Craig attributes the Service Rifle Team’s continued success to the structure and leadership of the unique Army unit. “Being in the AMU, we are provided with the best equipment, best gunsmiths, and best ammunition. We are also provided the time, resources and environment to train and hone our marksmanship skills. We have no option but to be the best marksmanship team in the world.”

In the individual matches, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Green (Covington, LA) displayed his marksmanship expertise by winning the overall Interservice Individual Championship title and setting a new record of 998-52X. Green’s score beat out the long-standing record of 995-50X that was set 23 years ago by retired Marine Master Sgt. Don Hueman. Hueman, who later became the civilian AMU Service Rifle Team coach, presented Green his trophy during the awards ceremony. Green also took second place in three other matches, just trailing behind first place by one X in two matches and three Xs in another. Furthermore, he was a member of four of the five first place teams.

Green wasn’t the only one with impressive scores though. Staff Sgt. Amanda Elsenboss (Woodbury, CT) won the 1000-yard match (Open Division) as well as the Long Range match (Open Division), where she just missed breaking the previous records (which were set or met by Green in 2008) by two and four Xs respectively. On top of those achievements, she set a new Interservice standard in the High Service Woman Category with the record score of 987-46X.

Sgt. Ben Cleland (Sylvania, OH) finished first in the Coast Guard Match (Sitting/Rapid Fire) as well as the 600-yard match (Open Division). Cleland didn’t just win both of those matches. He set two new records, surpassing the top scores set by former AMU soldiers.

Staff Sgt. David Bahten (Sonora, CA) came away with first place wins in both the Long Range match (Service Rifle Division) and the 600-yard match (Service Rifle Division), in which he also set a new record. Bahten also earned two solid third place titles in the Coast Guard Match (Sitting/Rapid Fire) and the 1000-yard match.

Spc. Lane Ichord (Modesto, CA) won the Marine Corps Match (300-yard/Prone/Rapid Fire) by defeating the 1989 record with a score of 200-14X.

International Rifle Olympian Spc. Daniel Lowe (Olympia, WA) took home the Navy Match (Standing). Lowe, who is a new addition to the Service Rifle Team, also broke a record in the match by scoring a 200-12X, which beat the 1982 record of 200-9X. With his impressive scores, he earned third place in the overall Individual Rifle Championship with a score of 995-51X, which surpassed the 1994 record of 995-50X. In addition to beating the previous record, Green seized the overall champion title with his score of 998-52X. 

As titles were being claimed and old records were falling, the AMU was also implementing new training. To keep up with changes in their sport, such as the addition of optics, Barnhart, an 18-year veteran, said he changed the training plan for the team to help everyone prepare.

“I was trying to get more experience for the younger soldiers, so they can succeed,” he said. “This is the first time at the Interservice Championships for many of them, and it’s a little different from some of the other matches. So throughout the season, I tried to help them recognize what was going to happen when they got here.”

One of those new soldiers was Pvt. Forrest Greenwood (Modesto, CA) who just joined the AMU eight months ago. 

“I first saw the AMU at Camp Perry Nationals a few years back while I was competing as a junior,” said Greenwood. “I just loved how professional they were. And they were the best marksmen out there. I thought to myself, ‘that would be a pretty great place to be one day.’”

Now, as a soldier on the AMU Service Rifle Team, Greenwood was competing in his first Interservice Rifle Championships, and said he had high hopes for it.

“There are a lot of knowledgeable people in this unit who’ve helped me learn to become a good competitive shooter and soldier,” said Greenwood. His skill, mentorship and preparation certainly paid off at his first Interservice Championships, said several teammates.

Even with less than a year on the AMU, Greenwood finished second in the 1000-yard match (Open Division), third in the Long Range match and competed on two of the three AMU teams winning championship titles. Besides winning, Greenwood said he is thrilled to be a part of team and compete in his first Interservice Championships.

“It is a pretty awesome feeling being in the AMU. I love it. It’s the best job I could ever have.”

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