The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is saddened to announce the passing of Maj. Larry Pendergrass, U. S. Army, Ret., on Sunday, May 14, 2023. Larry Pendergrass was one of the most significant contributors to the development of junior and competition shooting in the United States over the last three decades. His countless deeds as a marksmanship instructor, mentor of youth, range officer and counselor made the shooting sports better.
Larry was born in 1929 in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. He went on to build an incredible legacy filled with remarkable experiences in his personal life, a distinguished military career and as a national and international shooting sports official. He attended Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University), earned a degree in mathematics, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Artillery in 1961. His career as an Army officer carried him around the world and included a tour in Vietnam (1967-68) as well as posts in Germany, Okinawa and Korea. He retired from active duty in 1982 after 20 years of service. His military honors included two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals and four Army Commendation Medals.
After retiring from the Army, Larry moved to the Atlanta, Georgia, area where he became a JROTC Instructor at nearby Creekside High School. There, he coached the Creekside High School Rifle Teams to five consecutive Georgia State High School Championships and was named Georgia’s High School Rifle Coach of the Year eight times. After retiring as a JROTC Instructor, Larry became the Georgia High School Association’s Rifle Coordinator and State Championship Match Director, a position where he served for a decade. The Georgia high school rifle program is the largest of its kind in the country.
In 1996, Larry was invited to join the staff for the sport of shooting at the Atlanta Olympic Games. During the subsequent years, Larry served as a match official and international judge in national and international championships that included several ISSF World Cups. Larry’s competition officiating included service as the Chief Range Officer for the NCAA rifle championships from 2011 to 2019, as well as for several national junior championships.
In 2003, when the CMP developed a new air rifle marksmanship training program, Larry was selected to be a member of the team of marksmanship experts who aided in the design of the JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course (JMIC), which is now used to train and certify all JROTC rifle marksmanship instructors.
CMP Smallbore Manager Brad Donoho, who frequently worked with Larry, wrote this tribute to him:
“Larry will always be the greatest Chief Range Officer this sport has ever known. The GOAT. Asking Larry to be the Chief Range Officer at our competitions was a way of guaranteeing the match would run “by the book”—and I mean, by the book. Larry would meticulously read match programs and send them back to us because we made a mistake. He would read the rulebook before each competition and highlight important rules to remember. He even had cheat sheets for other range officers to use on the firing range. Larry would always hold a range officer meeting prior to the day’s competition and simply remind the other ROs of their responsibilities. He taught us never to cite a rule from memory and to always show the competitor the rules and let them see for themselves. He greeted everyone around him with a smile. The impact Larry made on the CMP is immeasurable. We pride ourselves in running the best competitions in the country and in being good stewards of the shooting sports. We do this because Larry showed us how. He was loved by all who were blessed to know him. He will be dearly missed.”
See Larry Pendergrass’s full obituary.