Bryan Scott, 55, of Clyde, Ohio, has reached an accomplishment many set out to achieve but often never attain—earning a Distinguished Rifleman Badge. It came unexpectedly through a hobby that started as a mere suggestion and blossomed into a persistent passion.
Distinguished Badges are the highest individual awards authorized by the United States government for excellence in marksmanship competition. Badges, offered in several disciplines, are presented by the CMP after an individual receives at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points at qualifying matches. It’s a symbol of consistent skill on the range and is a merit that is looked upon with great reverence in the marksmanship world.
Bryan first became involved in marksmanship as an adult through shotgun trap and skeet while serving in the Air Force at the Tyndall Air Force Base range in Florida. He had always liked firearms and shooting, so he decided to give it a try, just to pass the time.
“I became hooked and within a year was shooting some good scores,” he said. “My best scores were a pair of 98 out of 100 clays in registered matches in both trap and skeet.”
He soon moved on to Germany and a new base for three years where, unfortunately, they were without a recreational shooting range. As quickly as it began, his shotgun career had ended.
It wasn’t until 2012 when a coworker told him about the Small Arms Firing School held at Camp Perry that he got back into the sport.
“I did [Small Arms Firing School] for a couple years but didn't really get involved in competitive shooting other than that,” Bryan said.
The Small Arms Firing School courses for rifle and pistol have been staple events at the National Matches since 1918, educating over 1,000 pistol and rifle participants each year. Formulated for those of any age, especially those new to marksmanship, the school is led by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and other qualified civilian and military professionals. The Small Arms Firing School includes both classroom and live-fire training that covers basic instruction as well as competition skills, with an EIC match held at the conclusion of the course.
Knowing the benefits of the Small Arms Firing School, Bryan decided to introduce his oldest son to the course after he had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2015, in the hopes of preparing him for basic training. The positive experience during that trip motivated Bryan to sign up for other competitions, such as the popular .22-cal. Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I wanted to shoot more matches, so I purchased a Rock River NM rifle at Camp Perry in 2017.”
Though now equipped with a service rifle suitable for the many events of the CMP National Matches, Bryan found himself stuck.
“I still knew nothing about the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and really didn’t even know where to go to shoot matches,” he said.
He decided to dive into the unknown and became a member of the nearby Sandusky County Sportsman’s Club, where member Jesse Bragg held a monthly service rifle match. It was there that Bryan met other local marksmen who told him about the Toledo Area High Power Rifle League that got together twice a month for competition, from September to March. Bryan became a regular in the League and started to build his comfort and abilities with service rifle.
The next summer at Camp Perry, he showcased his hard work by earning his first four leg points in the Small Arms Firing School EIC match, and followed them up by earning 10 more a few days later in the National Trophy Individual match.
Despite reaching 14 points so quickly, it took two years to earn his next points. The following year, in June 2023, his final three points to finish the journey to his Distinguished Rifleman Badge came from the place where it all started, Camp Perry.
Just because he was finally Distinguished didn’t mean his marksmanship adventures ended. Bryan continues to compete in 30 to 35 matches a year through the Toledo League and competes in monthly matches at the Lima SABRES range. He even makes the hour drive to the Ashland Lake Gun Club’s High Power Rifle matches as often as possible, along with the two-hour drive to the Alliance Rifle Club in Malvern, Ohio, to take part in its fall match. If that wasn’t enough, he goes even farther to the Miami Rifle and Pistol Club near Batavia in Southern Ohio—a three-and-a-half-hour excursion.
Clearly, competitive shooting can be a big commitment. Whether driving for hours in the car to spend hours on the range or the years of dedication to reach the highest honors the sport can give, Bryan doesn’t mind. For him, it’s not the accolades that keep him coming back for more—it’s the people.
“The best part of shooting is the camaraderie of the other shooters,” he said. “And, of course, I just like competing.”
ABOUT THE DISTINGUISHED BADGE PROGRAM
To earn a Distinguished Badge, a competitor must earn 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) points or more in a qualifying competition. Individuals earn the six, eight or 10 “leg” points based on score and a percentage of match participation, with at least one “hard” leg, worth eight or 10 points.
Currently, there are CMP-administered Distinguished Badges for the following competitive shooting disciplines.
- Service Rifle
- Service Pistol
- .22 Rimfire Pistol
- Junior Air Rifle
- International Shooter
- Smallbore Rifle
- Distinguished Marksman Badge
- Distinguished Air Rifle and Air Pistol
- Distinguished Service Revolver
Learn more about Distinguished Badges at thecmp.org.