Marksmanship Badges (United States)

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Above are examples of three U.S. marksmanship competition badges on a U.S. Marine Corps service uniform, from left to right: the Marine Corps's version of the Distinguished Marksman Badge, the Marine Corps's version of the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge, and the Marine Corps Inter-Division Pistol Competition Badge.

In the United States (U.S. or US), a marksmanship badge is a U.S. military badge or a civilian badge which is presented to personnel upon successful completion of a weapons qualification course (known as marksmanship qualification badges) or high achievement in an official marksmanship competition (known as marksmanship competition badges). Today, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps are the only military services that issue marksmanship qualification badges. However, marksmanship medals and/or marksmanship ribbons are issued by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Force for weapons qualifications. For non-military personnel, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) issue marksmanship qualification badges to civilians and Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) members. Additionally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) also issue marksmanship qualification badges to civilians as well as those involved in U.S. law enforcement. All of these organizations and the U.S. National Guard awarded marksmanship competition badges to the people they support who succeed in official competitions.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

The U.S. Army issues their marksmanship qualification badges for a variety of weapons while the U.S. Marine Corps only issues theirs for the service rifle and service pistol. For civilians, the CMP issues the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges for rifle, small bore rifle, pistol, and small bore pistol as well as its own air rifle badges. The NRA issues marksmanship qualification badges for air rifles, rifles, pistols, and shotguns; however the NRA focuses on different rifles and pistols than the CMP. For marksmanship competition badges, the U.S. military award rifle and pistol competition badges; however, the U.S. National Guard also award marksmanship competition badges for machine gun and sniper rifle. The CMP awards marksmanship competition badges for air rifle, rifle, pistol, and .22 rimfire pistol while the NRA awards them for air rifle, small bore rifle, revolver, and semi-automatic pistol.[1][2][3][4][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

The U.S. military and CMP marksmanship qualification badges are awarded in three grades (highest to lowest): expert, sharpshooter, and marksman while their marksmanship competition badges are awarded in two to three grades (highest to lowest): silver, and bronze for the U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. civilians; bold, silver, and bronze for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps; and silver with wreath, bronze with wreath, and bronze for the U.S. Air Force. The NRA marksmanship qualification badges are awarded in five to six grades (highest to lowest): distinguished expert, expert, sharpshooter, marksman first-class (Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program only), marksman, and pro-marksman. The NRA and the U.S. National Guard marksmanship competition badges are only awarded at one grade with the exception of the NRA's Law Enforcement Distinguished Program, which awards a Law Enforcement Excellence-in-Competition Badge for those officers who earn their first points towards one of the law enforcement distinguished badges.[1][2][3][4][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][15]

Marksmanship Qualification Badges[edit]

Starting in the late 19th century, the U.S. Army began awarding marksmanship qualification badges to those soldiers that met specific weapon qualification standards. In the early 20th century, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy began awarding marksmanship qualification badges as well. The Marine Corps began by awarding Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges but eventually developed its own badge design, based on the original Army designs from the early 1900s. The Navy developed its own marksmanship qualification badge but retired it after only ten years in lieu of awarding marksmanship ribbons and dedals.[16][17][18]

For U.S. civilians, the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, now known as the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety (CPRPFS), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) began promoting civilian marksmanship in 1903. The CPRPFS's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) awards Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges to civilians who meet Army weapon qualification standards as well as its own badges to youth for air rifle marksmanship. The NRA began awarding its own marksmanship qualification badges to civilians in 1918 and today has two primary marksmanship proficiency programs, the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program and the Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Program. Additionally, the NRA supports numerous other firearm proficiency programs throughout the United States, such as those found within various law enforcement agencies.[1][8][19][20][21][22][23]

United States Army[edit]

U.S. Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges

The United States Army award Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges to soldiers and foreign military personnel while the CMP awards these same badges to civilians who qualify at three different qualification levels (highest to lowest): expert, sharpshooter, and marksman. Suspended from the badge are Army Weapon Qualification Clasps that indicate the type of weapon the individual has qualified to use. The following Army Weapon Qualification Clasps are currently authorized under Army Pamphlet 670-1; however, only rifle, small bore rifle, pistol, and small bore pistol are awarded to civilians by the CMP (listed with exact inscription):[1][24][25]

RIFLE PISTOL AA ARTILLERY AUTO RIFLE
MACHINEGUN FIELD ARTILLERY TANK WEAPONS FLAMETHROWER
SUBMACHINE GUN ROCKET LAUNCHER GRENADE CARBINE
RECOILLESS RIFLE MORTAR BAYONET SMALL BORE RIFLE
SMALL BORE PISTOL MISSILE AEROWEAPONS

The level at which one qualifies is dependent on the weapon, firing range, and the course of fire. For example, to earn an Army Marksmanship Qualification Badge for Pistol at the Combat Pistol Qualification Course, one must have a combined hit count of 26 out of 30 for expert, 21 out of 30 for sharpshooter, and 16 out of 30 for marksman on firing tables one through five. Regardless of the soldier's overall score, everyone must have a minimum hit count of three out of seven while wearing a gas mask for the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) firing table and two out of five while shooting at night for the night firing table. To earn the same qualification with the same weapon at the Alternate Pistol Qualification Course, one must have a hit count of 36 out of 40 for expert, 29 out of 40 for sharpshooter, and 24 out of 40 for marksman on firing tables one through four and get a perfect hit count on the CBRN and night firing tables regardless of the soldier's scores on the other firing tables. Each of these firing tables test the shooter on different aspects of combat pistol shooting (shooting from a concealed position, speed loading, shooting on the move, etc.) while engaging human silhouettes at varying distances within an allotted time.[26]

Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges are not permanent awards. When a soldier re-qualifies with their weapon at a different level, the soldier replaces their qualification badge with a new badge that reflects their current level. Only three Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges are authorized for wear on Army service uniforms and each may have no more than three Army Weapon Qualification Clasps. Although these badges are awarded to both officers and enlisted soldiers alike, as a matter of Army tradition, only non-commissioned officers and enlisted soldiers are expected to wear these badges on their service uniforms.[1][27]

Former U.S. Army & U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Marksmanship Badges. The Army replaced these badges with the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges with Rifle Qualification Clasp 1921. The Marine Corps changed their design in 1958.
Former U.S. Army Pistol Marksmanship Badges which were replaced by the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges with Pistol Qualification Clasp in 1921.

The Army began using marksmanship qualification badges in 1881 starting with the Marksman Button. That led to a variety of different Army branch specific marksmanship badges until 1897 when the Rifle Marksmanship Badges were implemented Army wide. The Army's Pistol Marksmanship Badges were implemented ten years later in 1907. Clasps were added to the Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge and Expert Marksmanship Badge to indicate the year(s) a soldier requalified as a sharpshooter or expert. Up to three years were denoted on a single clasp. Upon earning the badge a fourth time, another clasp was added and that new clasp was used to denote up to three additional years of requalification; there was no limit to the number of clasps that could be hung from these badges. In 1915, the Army changed the design of the Expert Pistol Qualification Badge's pendant by replacing the revolvers with M1911s; this pendant lives on in today's Marine Corps Expert Pistol Qualification Badge. Additionally, the Army had a short-lived series of Artillery Qualification Badges from 1891 through 1913. In 1921, the pistol and artillery badges were combined into today's Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges through the addition of the Pistol Weapon Qualification Clasp and Field Artillery Weapon Qualification Clasp. Prior to 1951, the names of the qualification levels for the current Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges were known as (highest to lowest) expert, sharpshooter or first-class gunner, and marksman or second-class gunner. Also, prior to 1972, the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges had many different types of weapon qualification clasps. According to The Institute of Heraldry, the following is a list of previously awarded Army Weapon Qualification Clasps (listed with exact inscription):[16][25][28][29][30]

RIFLE-A RIFLE-B RIFLE-C RIFLE-D
MINE GUNNER C.A. GUNNER INF HOWITZER F.A. GUNNER
SWORD PISTOL-M PISTOL-D MACHINE RIFLE
C.W.S. WEAPONS AERIAL GUNNER AERIAL BOMBER SMALL BORE MG
ANTITANK 81MM MORTAR 60MM MORTAR TD 75MM
TD 57MM TD 3INCH MINES SUBMARINE MINES

United States Marine Corps[edit]

U.S. Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification Badges

The United States Marine Corps award two types of Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification Badges, one for the service rifle and one for the service pistol, to all marines who qualify at three different qualification levels (highest to lowest): expert, sharpshooter, and marksman. These qualification badges are suspended beneath a brooch which bears the name of the type of weapon (rifle or pistol) and the qualification level earned. Some of these badges are different in appearance, depending on the type of weapon and qualification level.[2]

For a marine to earn a marksmanship qualification badge, they must obtain a passing score at an annual weapons qualification event. To earn a Marine Corps Rifle Qualification Badge, a marine must successfully complete multiple tables of fire to include the Fundamental Rifle Marksmanship Table, the Basic Combat Rifle Marksmanship Table, the Intermediate Combat Rifle Marksmanship Table, and the Advanced Combat Rifle Marksmanship Table. These tables require a marine to engage human silhouettes at varying distances, positions, and scenarios within an allotted time. To earn a Marine Corps Pistol Qualification Badge, a marine must successfully complete three phases of fire which include weapons handling, stationary target engagement, and scenario based target engagements. Similar to the rifle tables, the pistol phases require a marine to engage human silhouettes at varying distances and scenarios within an allotted time. After qualifying, a marine will receive a marksmanship badge commensurate with the score they obtained. For annual qualification with the service rifle, scores range from 305–350 for expert, 280–304 for sharpshooter, and 250–279 for marksman. For annual qualification with the service pistol, the scores range from 345–400 for expert, 305–344 for sharpshooter, and 245–304 for marksman.[31]

Marine Corps Marksmanship Qualification Badges may be worn on Marine Corps dress and service uniforms for the remainder of a marine's military career, or until a different level of qualification (higher or lower) is achieved. Typically, all marines qualify with the rifle on an annual basis. The most recent qualification score determines the badge that is worn. If a marine achieves the qualification of expert multiple times, a clasp is hung between the brooch and the pendant of the appropriate badge denoting the number of subsequent awards.[31]

Former U.S. Marine Corps Basic Badge w/ Expert Bayonet Clasp

According to the Marine Corps History Division, the Marine Corps used to award three different styles/types of marksmanship qualification badges. Starting in 1912, the Marine Corps began awarding the Army Rifle Marksmanship Badges to marines who qualified with the service rifle. As with the Army, the Marine Corps awarded these rifle badges at three qualification levels (highest to lowest): expert, sharpshooter, and marksman. Just like the Army, year clasps were added to the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge and Sharpshooter Rifle Marksmanship Badge to indicate the year(s) a marine requalified at that level. The former Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge is almost identical to the current version of the Marine Corps Expert Rifle Qualification Badge, but uses crossed M1903 Springfield Rifles vs. M1 Garands with slings. In 1924, the Marine Corps replaced these badges with the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges, which are still in use by the U.S. Army. However, the Marine Corps decided to bring back the older Army Rifle Marksmanship Badges in 1937. That same year, the Marine Corps introduced the Marine Corps Basic Badge for marksmanship qualifications with other weapon systems. Clasps were hung from the Marine Corps Basic Badge's brooch indicating the type of weapon and level of qualification. The clasps indicated the degree of proficiency by using the letters "SS" for sharpshooter or "EX" for expert, followed by the name of the weapon. The exception to this rule was a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve clasps for the .30 Caliber Rifle Course D ("RIFLE-D") which included "MM" for marksman. Much like the Army Weapon Qualification Clasps, the clasps of the Marine Corps Basic Badge fluctuated with additions and deletions in 1949 and again in 1954. The following clasps were authorized for wear on the Marine Corps Basic Badge under the 1937 Marine Corps Uniform Regulation (listed with exact inscription):[16][17][32][33]

Expert Clasps Sharpshooter Clasps Marksman Clasp
EX-RIFLE-D SS-RIFLE-D MM-RIFLE-D
EX-SMALL BORE SS-SMALL BORE
EX-PISTOL SS-PISTOL
EX-AUTO-RIFLE SS-AUTO RIFLE
EX-MACH. GUN SS-MACH. GUN
EX-HOWITZER SS-HOWITZER
EX-T.S.M.G. SS-T.S.M.G.
EX-BAYONET

The Army Rifle Marksmanship Badges were replaced by the current Marine Corps Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badges in 1958. That same year, the Marine Corps adopted the Army's 1915 design of the Army Expert Pistol Qualification Badge and created it own Marine Corps Pistol Qualification Badges, which is still in use today. The Marine Corps Basic Badge remained in use until 1968 when it was declared obsolete.[17][32]

United States Navy (Historical)[edit]

Former U.S. Navy Sharpshooter's Badge with Qualification Year Clasp & 1911 Year Disk

For a decade, from 1910 to 1920, the United States Navy awarded a marksmanship badge called the Navy Sharpshooter's Badge to sailors and naval officers who qualified with the service rifle and/or service pistol. Today, sailors and naval officers are awarded marksmanship ribbons and medals to denote service weapon qualification.[3][18]

The Navy Sharpshooter's Badge was awarded at two qualification levels, expert (highest qualification level) and sharpshooter. Despite this, the 1913 Uniform Regulations for the United States Navy stated that the Navy Sharpshooter's Badge outranked all other marksmanship badges on the Navy uniform, including marksmanship competition badges.[34][35]

The Navy Sharpshooter's Badge was made of antique bronze with a rectangular brooch that had the word "SHARPSHOOTER" embossed in its center with circling serpent bookends. Below the brooch hung two types of clasps, an Expert Qualification Clasp and a Qualification Year Clasp. From those clasps hung the badge's pendant. The Expert Qualification Clasp is identical in design to the brooch but with the word(s) "EXPERT," for the service rifle, or "EXPERT PISTOL SHOT," for the service pistol. Each time a shooter requalified as expert, another Expert Qualification Clasp was hung from the badge. If no Expert Qualification Clasp was suspended from the badge, then the shooter qualified as a sharpshooter with the service rifle and/or service pistol. The Qualification Year Clasp is different in design from the brooch which incorporated three ovals along its access for the placement of Year Disks. The Year Disk was made of silver and embossed with the year the shooter qualified/requalified. On the fourth requalification year, another Qualification Year Clasp was hung from the badge with a fourth Year Disk embossed with the year of requalification. There was no limit to the number of clasps that could be hung from the badge. Hanging from the clasp(s) was the badge's pendant, which was the design basis for today's Navy marksmanship medals. The only difference between the pendant of the Navy Sharpshooter's Badge and the Navy Expert Rifleman Medal or Expert Pistol Shot Medal is the metal color (from antique bronze to gold), the deletion of the crossed rifles from behind a replica of a rifle target, and the addition of the words "EXPERT RIFLEMAN" or "EXPERT PISTOL SHOT" embossed above the rifle target.[18][34][35]

Starting in 1920, Navy marksmanship ribbons replaced the Navy Sharpshooter's Badge. There are two types of Navy marksmanship ribbons, one for the service rifle ( U.S. Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon ) and one for the service pistol ( U.S. Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon ). Each can be embellished with a marksmanship device to denote the shooter's qualification level. A silver "E" Device ( U.S. Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with "E" Device ) is awarded to those who qualify as an expert (the highest qualification level) while a bronze "S" Device ( U.S. Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with "S" Device ) is awarded to those who qualify as a sharpshooter (second highest qualification). If no marksmanship device is displayed, the shooter qualified as a marksman (lowest qualification level). For an unknown period of time, a bronze "E" Device was awarded to those who initially qualified as expert; after three consecutive expert qualifications, the device turned to silver with a permanent award status. Starting in 1969, the Expert Rifleman Medal and Expert Pistol Shot Medal were introduced and are awarded to sailors and naval officers who qualify as expert along with the appropriate Navy marksmanship ribbon with silver "E" Device.[3][18][36][37]

Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps[edit]

Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Rifle Qualification Badges

The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) and the CMP have established a JROTC Rifle Marksmanship Training and Award Program to increase a cadet's knowledge and skill in handling rifles safely and proficiently. JROTC cadets who participate in rifle marksmanship instruction are eligible to earn a JROTC Rifle Qualification Badge. The badges designate three qualification levels (highest to lowest): expert, sharpshooter, and marksman. These badges signify that the cadets who earn them have demonstrated the knowledge and skill necessary to handle rifles safety and have mastered basic rifle marksmanship skills needed to achieve required scores in qualification firing tests.[7][38][39]

The CMP have set standards that apply to the conduct of weapon qualification events. All qualification events must be done with sporter-class air rifles, such as the Daisy M853/9753/953 pneumatic rifles or Daisy M887/888 CO2 rifles, that were issued through the military supply system. Qualification tests must be conducted at a distance of ten meters (33 feet). Qualification tests may be done on either the basic marksmanship course (BMC) targets or AR-1 competition targets. During qualification tests, a sling, glove, and kneeling roll may be used. To receive a qualification badge, cadets must attain the following scores that is supervised or observed by a qualified instructor:[7][38]

  • Expert: 220-300 (AR-1 Target), 290-300 (BMC Target)
    • 10 shots standing, 10 shots prone, and 10 shots kneeling
  • Sharpshooter: 130-200 (AR-1 Target), 188-200 (BMC Target)
    • 10 shots standing, 10 shots prone
  • Marksman: 110-129 (AR-1 Target), 175-187 (BMC Target)
    • 10 shots standing, 10 shots prone

JROTC cadets are authorized to wear the JROTC Air Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge, as well as other CMP or NRA awarded badges, on their service uniforms. Cadets may earn more than one badge, but may only wear the highest-ranking badge earned for a given weapon.[7][38]

National Rifle Association[edit]

NRA's Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Badges

The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is designed to encourage firearms safety and develop civilian marksmanship through the awarding of marksmanship qualification badges. The program is also designed to help marksmanship instructors and coaches train their shooters through a published set of guidelines that apply to both juniors and adults. Despite its similarities, the NRA's marksmanship program does not compete with the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The NRA issues marksmanship qualification badges for air rifle, light rifle, rifle, high-power rifle, air pistol, pistol, and shotgun. Performance is measured against established par scores and any shooters who meet or exceed those scores are entitled to a corresponding marksmanship qualification badge. The courses of fire in the qualification program are designed to take shooters from beginning skill levels (pro-marksman and marksman) through intermediate levels (marksman first-class, sharpshooter, and expert) up to a nationally recognized skill level (distinguished expert). Qualification tests can be conducted anywhere and is based on the honor system. However, to earn the NRA Distinguished Expert Badge, a NRA instructor or certified coach must witness and officially record the course of fire. Those who participate in formal competition can use the tournament results bulletin as validation for the NRA Distinguished Expert Badge. Each skill level requires that a shooter achieve a score more than once to earn a specific marksmanship qualification badge. However, they do not have to be fired consecutively or in the same session.[8][21]

When the shooter reaches sharpshooter, depending on the weapon and course of fire, the shooter will earn thin gold rectangular clasps that represent different shooting positions or courses of fire. Small black vertical rectangles are etched onto the gold clasps and the number of black rectangles represents a specific course of fire successfully completed by the shooter. Likewise, the NRA Distinguished Expert Badge uses thin gold rectangular weapon clasps which are suspended in the same manner as the sharpshooter clasps to identify the type of weapon for which the badge has been earned. Each weapon clasp is black with raised gold trim; in the center of the clasps are raised gold capital letters spelling rifle, shotgun, or pistol. If the shooter has earned the NRA Distinguished Expert Badge for more than one type of weapon, multiple clasps denoting the weapons are suspended from the badge.[8][40]

The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program was established in 1926 when the Winchester Junior Rifle Corps and the NRA Junior Marksmanship Program were combined. American youth remained the target audience focusing on firearm safety and marksmanship. The newly combined program used the original Winchester Junior Rifle Corps qualification levels until 2002 when the NRA added the marksman first-class qualification, increasing the number of qualification levels to six. In the early 21st century, the pendant of the original NRA marksmanship qualification badges changed from a circular wreathed pendant to a unique shield design with the words "Junior Division" removed from the pendant; the same was done with the original design of the NRA Distinguished Expert Badge but both the brooch and pendant were completely redesigned. These changes likely occurred when the NRA revamped the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program to be more inclusive; the program now includes 11 different courses of fire for both youths and adults.[41]

NRA's Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Badge

The NRA's Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Program is designed exclusively for the Law Enforcement Exploring program and is used as a development tool to help potential law enforcement officers (called Explorers) establish safe shooting habits and increase their shooting proficiency with a handgun. Performance is measured against established par scores and any Explorer who meets or exceeds those scores can be awarded the appropriate badge by the law enforcement post to which the Explorer belongs. These Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Badge is awarded in five levels (lowest to highest): pro-marksman, marksman, sharpshooter, expert, and distinguished expert.[22]

Prior to participating in NRA's Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Program, Explorer's are required to complete an eight-hour firearm safety course. Only a law enforcement service handgun, authorized by the sponsoring law enforcement agency, is to be used against standard NRA B-8 targets. The courses of fire are conducted from either a benchrest or standing position, from ranges of 5 to 20 yards, with 20 to 30 shots, and has 2 or 3 phases of fire (slow fire, timed fire, and rapid fire). A course of fire must be completed in the same session and must be witnessed by the range supervisor or the officer-in-charge of the law enforcement explorer post in order to qualify. The following courses of fire must be achieved to be awarded the corresponding Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Badge:[22]

  • Pro-Marksman: From a benchrest, achieve a 50% hit count in slow fire against five and seven yard targets
  • Marksman: From a standing position, achieve a 60% hit count in slow fire and 50% hit count in timed fire against a seven yard target
  • Sharpshooter: From a standing position, achieve a 75% hit count in slow fire, 65% hit count in timed fire, and 50% hit count in rapid fire against a 15 yard target
  • Expert: From a standing position, achieve a 85% hit count in slow fire, 75% hit count in timed fire, and 65% hit count in rapid fire against a 20 yard target
  • Distinguished Expert: Aggregate course of fire shot five times with a score of 201/300 or better in each aggregate.

These Explorer Service Handgun Qualification Badges are authorized for wear on the Law Enforcement Explorer uniform.[22]

NRA's Law Enforcement Marksmanship Qualification Badges

The NRA also has their Law Enforcement Marksmanship Qualification Badges that are to be used by law enforcement agencies to denote an officer’s level of marksmanship competency on any recognized law enforcement qualification course for pistol, shotgun, or rifle. These badges are offered to law enforcement at four levels (from lowest to highest): marksman, sharpshooter, expert, and distinguished expert. These badges feature blue enamel with either gold or antique silver highlights (agency's choice). Although it is up to each law enforcement agency to determine its scoring criteria, the NRA recommends that officers achieve scores reflective of 75% to 84% of the maximum allotted to be awarded one of the marksman badges, 85% to 94% for one of the sharpshooter badges, and 95% to 100% for one of the expert badges. The Police Marksmanship Distinguished Badge, is usually awarded to those who have qualified as expert numerous times, demonstrating their ability to consistently achieve a high-level of marksmanship excellence.[23][42]

Marksmanship Competition Badges[edit]

The 1996 U.S. federal law established the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety (CPRPFS) with the authority to promote practice and safety in the use of firearms through the conduct of competitions and the awarding of prizes, trophies, badges, and other insignia to high performing competitors, which it carries out through its Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). This authorization carries with it the responsibility to administer the CPRPFS's distinguished marksmanship programs. The CMP maintains records of points earned by shooters and presents appropriate prizes to those who earn them while the U.S. armed forces award service specific competition marksmanship badges to serviceman based on the CMP's records for points earned.[43][44]

The CMP has a point system that competitors use to work their way towards "distinguished status." Starting in 2015, the CMP began awarding achievement pins based on the score one earns at a given match. For example, to earn a bronze, silver, or gold CMP .22 Rimfire Pistol Achievement Pin, one must achieve a score of 235-249, 250-264, or 265+ respectively in the authorized excellence category of competition. Also in 2015, the CMP established minimum cut scores that must be achieved for a given weapon in the authorized excellence category of competition before one can earn credit points (also referred to as "leg points") towards a distinguished marksmanship badge. Once the minimum cut score has been achieved or exceeded (260-300 for .22 rimfire pistol, 250-300 for service pistol, and 455-500 for service rifle), the shooter becomes eligible to earn leg points. The number of leg points that can be earned are based on the number of competitors, one's score, one's ranking, and you must fall within the top 10% of all match shooters regardless of your minimum cut score. Typically, the highest one-sixth of the top 10% earn ten leg points, the next highest two-sixths earn eight, and the remaining three-sixths earn six. Depending on the awarding organization, competitors must earn between one and six leg points to be awarded their first excellence-in-competition badge. Everyone must earn at least 30 leg points to reach "distinguished status" and be awarded one of the distinguished marksmanship badges. Leg points accumulate throughout a competitor's lifetime until "distinguished status" is attained. Thus, leg points earned as a member of the U.S. armed forces will transfer toward "distinguished status" as a civilian, and vice versa.[10][14][44][45][46][47][48][49][50]

Similarly, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has an almost identical set of programs which use similar ranking systems as the CPRPFS's distinguished marksmanship programs where a shooter must work they way up to "distinguished status" by demonstrating repeated excellence in marksmanship. The NRA's distinguished marksmanship programs focus on areas not covered by the CPRPFS; however their newest program, the NRA Distinguished Air Gun Program, appears to be in competition with the CPRPFS's Junior Distinguished Program. Both programs focus on air gun proficiency among American youth.[11][12]

In addition to the CMP's leg point driven system of marksmanship awards, the U.S. military and certain states award marksmanship tabs, brassards, and badges for high placement in official marksmanship competitions, such as the President's Pistol and Rifle Matches, the National Guard Small Arms Championships, the U.S. Army Interservice Competition Badges, the U.S. Marine Corps's trophy matches, and some state marksmanship competitions, just to name a few.[2][13][51][52][53][54]

Distinguished Marksmanship Programs[edit]

Excellence-in-Competition Badges[edit]

Above are some examples of the U.S. armed force's Excellence-in-Competition Badges for the service rifle.

The U.S. armed forces awarded excellence-in-competition (EIC) badges to their members based on the CMP's records of leg points earned at a rifle and/or pistol match and in accordance with that member's service regulation(s). For example, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps awards their Bronze EIC Badges when a sailor/marine earns six leg points when competing in an authorized excellence category of competition, their Silver EIC Badges when eight leg points have been earned, and their Gold EIC Badges when ten leg points are earned. The U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard award their Bronze EIC Badges when a soldier/coast guardsman earns their first leg points when competing in an authorized excellence category of competition. However, the Army Silver EIC Badges and Coast Guard Silver EIC Badges are awarded differently; the Army will award their Silver EIC Badges when 20 leg points have been earned and the Coast Guard will award their Silver EIC Badges when a coast guardsman has earned their second set of leg points regardless of the number of points earned. The U.S. Air Force awards Bronze EIC Badges (without wreath) to airman who rank in the top 10% of competitors at an Air Force approved competition; these competitions do not have to be CMP sanctioned. The Air Force's Bronze EIC Badges with Wreath is awarded when six leg points have been earned in an authorized excellence category of competition and their Silver EIC Badges with Wreath when 20 leg points have been earned.[10][14][46][47][48][49][50]

Within the armed forces, there are three levels of EIC competition, installation or unit level competitions (level 1), region or command level competitions (level 2), and service, interservice, or national competitions (level 3). All five of the military services have uniquely designed EIC badges that are awarded to their members. EIC badges awarded at these different levels of competition are the same with a few exceptions. For EIC badges awarded at national competitions, the Navy and Coast Guard emboss the word "NATIONAL" at the top or bottom of their EIC badges respectively to distinguish them from other Navy and Coast Guard EIC badges. Also, the Navy and Marine Corps award slightly modified EIC badges at Navy Fleet or Marine Corps Division level (level 1) EIC matches. For example, Navy emboss the word "FLEET" at the top of their Navy EIC badges while the eagle, globe, and anchor on the Marine Corps EIC badges are replaced with the word "DIVISION" to distinguished these EIC badges from those earned and higher level competitions.[1][2][3][4][9][47][48][49][50]

National Rifle Association's (NRA) Law Enforcement Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Badge
NRA's Law Enforcement EIC Badge
Civilian Marksmanship Program's (CMP) Civilian Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Rifle Badge (bronze)
CMP's Civilian EIC Rifle Badge (bronze)
Civilian Marksmanship Program's (CMP) Junior Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Air Rifle Badge (silver
CMP's Junior EIC Air Rifle Badge (silver)

Just like the U.S. armed forces, the NRA has an EIC badge which is awarded to law enforcement officers that have earned their first leg point(s) toward NRA's "distinguished status" with the revolver or semi-automatic pistol. Law enforcement officers can only earn these leg points during NRA police pistol combat tournaments or during the NRA National Police Shooting Championship. Since the NRA Law Enforcement EIC Badge is awarded at only one level (silver), letters are presented to competitors indicating the total number of leg points they have earned as they work towards "distinguished status."[15]

The CMP's civilian EIC badges are awarded to adult civilian competitors who achieve sufficient points in a CMP authorized excellence category of rifle and/or pistol competition. The CMP's bronze EIC badges are awarded with six leg points have been earned and the CMP's silver EIC badges are awarded when 20 leg points have been achieved. The CPRPFS's Junior Air Rifle Program leg point system is identical to its rifle and pistol program; however the CMP will award their bronze Junior EIC Air Rifle Badge when junior competitors earn three leg points when competing in an authorized excellence category of competition and their silver Junior EIC Air Rifle Badge when 15 leg points have been earned.[10][14][55]

The following is a list of current EIC badges that are awarded by the CMP and the U.S. armed forces to their members; these EIC badges are listed in order of precedence by organization:[1][2][3][4][9][10][48][49][50][55]

US Excellence in Competition Badges.png
  • Civilian EIC Badges
  • U.S. Army EIC Badges
    • Army Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Silver)
    • Army Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Shot Badge (Silver)
    • Army Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Bronze)
    • Army Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Shot Badge (Bronze)
  • U.S. Marine Corps EIC Badges
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Rifle Competition Badge (Gold)
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Pistol Competition Badge (Gold)
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Rifle Competition Badge (Silver)
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Pistol Competition Badge (Silver)
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Rifle Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • National/Interservice/Marine Corps Pistol Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • Division Rifle Competition Badge (Gold)
    • Division Pistol Competition Badge (Gold)
    • Division Rifle Competition Badge (Silver)
    • Division Pistol Competition Badge (Silver)
    • Division Rifle Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • Division Pistol Competition Badge (Bronze)
  • U.S. Air Force EIC Badges
    • Air Force Silver Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge with Wreath
    • Air Force Silver Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge with Wreath
    • Air Force Bronze Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge with Wreath
    • Air Force Bronze Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge with Wreath
    • Air Force Bronze Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge
    • Air Force Bronze Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge
  • U.S. Coast Guard EIC Badges
    • National Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Silver)
    • National Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Silver)
    • National Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • National Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • Coast Guard Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Silver)
    • Coast Guard Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Silver)
    • Coast Guard Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Bronze)
    • Coast Guard Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Badge (Bronze)
  • U.S. Navy EIC Badges
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Gold)
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Gold)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Gold)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Gold)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Gold)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Gold)
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Silver)
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Silver)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Silver)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Silver)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Silver)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Silver)
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Bronze)
    • National Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Bronze)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Bronze)
    • Interservice/Navy Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Bronze)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Rifle Badge (Bronze)
    • Fleet Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Badge (Bronze)

These badges are onetime decorations and the military EIC badges may be worn on U.S. armed forces' service uniforms for the remainder of an individual’s career. These badges may be worn simultaneously with the U.S. Army's and U.S. Marine Corps's Marksmanship qualification badges and other authorized Marksmanship competition badges on service uniforms not to exceed a total of three badges. The Navy and Marine Corps authorize the wearing of up to two EIC badges for a given weapon while the other military services authorize the wearing of only the highest ranking EIC badge for a given weapon on their service uniforms. Subdued versions of these badges are not authorized. With the exception of the U.S. Coast Guard, miniature versions of these badges are also not authorized. The Coast Guard has authorized the wear of special marksmanship devices on top of their marksmanship ribbons ( U.S. Coast Guard Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with Silver Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Device U.S. Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Silver Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Device U.S. Coast Guard Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with Bronze Rifleman Excellence-in-Competition Device U.S. Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Bronze Pistol Shot Excellence-in-Competition Device ) to denote the awarding of an EIC badge and is used when wearing the badge is not desired.[1][2][3][4][5]

Changes in EIC Badge Design[edit]
The Army's Team Marksmanship Badges were replaced by the Army Excellence-in-Competition Badges in 1958

From 1903-1958, the U.S. Army EIC badges were known as Team Marksmanship Badges. Prior to that, the Army awarded a variety of large unique marksmanship prize badges that went by a variety of names from 1880-1903. The original Team Marksmanship Badges were awarded in gold, silver, and bronze consisting of oval pendants with enameled targets in the center that were superimposed over crossed rifles with bayonets, crossed carbines with slings, a heavy machine gun, or placed between two revolvers. Above the enameled target was the letters "U.S."; but for a short time, the word "INFANTRY" or "CAVALRY" (unit dependent) appeared above the target while the letters U.S. were embossed beneath the target. The pendant hung from two different brooch designs. From 1903-1906 the brooch had rounded arrowhead ends (sean today in the U.S. Marine Corps's EIC badges) bearing the name "ARMY," "DEPARTMENT," or “DIVISION” reflecting the level of competition for which the badge was earned. In 1906 the brooch was redesigned with swallow-tail ends bearing the name of the Army corps marksmanship team flanked by the words “ARMY,” on the left, and “TEAM,” on the right. In 1923, the Army updated the Team Marksmanship Badges with a new three piece design which was awarded in three grades; gold, silver, and bronze for pistol, rifle, and automatic rifle. There were four components to this new badge; the brooch, clasp, Team Disk, and pendant. A plain brooch with a circular center device was used to identify an Army corps or department level award. A wreath laden brooch was used to identify a national or Army level award. A gold, silver, or bronze (score dependent) replica of either crossed Flintlock Pistols, Muskets, or M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles (BARs) hung from the brooch which supported the badge's bronze pendant. The pendant had a bow with two crossed arrows at its center surrounded by a ring of 13 stars which was encircled by an oak wreath. For national and Army level awards, an enameled ring, known as the Team Disk, was placed behind the pendant's ring of 13 stars and was colored to match the branch of service color of the awarded team. Today's Army EIC badges, which began in 1958, are almost identical to the Team Marksmanship Badges with the following exceptions: only one version of the brooch exists and bears the name "U.S. ARMY;" the crossed BARs, Team Disks, and gold version of the crossed weapons have been deleted. Also, the entire EIC badge is now cast in either bronze or silver, vise having just the crossed weapons being cast in the medal earned by the shooter.[28][44][56][57][58][59]

Former U.S. Marine Corps Gold Rifle Marksmanship Competition Badge
Former U.S. Marine Corps Gold Rifle Marksmanship Competition Badge
Former U.S. Air Force National Gold Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Pistol Badge
Former U.S. Air Force Gold National EIC Pistol Badge

When the U.S. Marine Corps authorized their first Marine Corps marksmanship competition badges in 1908, they used the pendant of the U.S. Army’s 1907 designed Team Marksmanship Badges; however, the marines used a unique brooch that had the name "MARINE CORPS" etch within it to help set it apart from the Army's 1907 version. Slowly, the Marine Corps's marksmanship competition badges took on their own distinctive characteristics. Between 1910 and 1930, the pendants started to be modified with the word "DIVISION" or the eagle, globe, and anchor replacing the letters "U.S." to signify winners of unit or service/national level competitions respectively. These marksmanship competition badges live on as the Marine Corps's excellence-in-competition badges.[60]

The U.S. Air Force use to award Silver and Gold Elementary EIC Rifle and Pistol Badges and Gold National EIC Rifle and Pistol Badges to its competition shooters. The EIC badges without wreaths were originally known as non-national EIC badges while those with wreaths were known as national EIC badges. With changes in Air Force instructions (AFI), the term non-national was replaced with elementary. In today's AFI, the elementary EIC badges are formally known as Bronze EIC Badges while the national EIC badges are formally known as either Bronze or Silver EIC Badges with Wreath. However, Air Force competitors still refer to these badges using there old designations (elementary and national).[9][61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68][69]

Distinguished Marksmanship Badges[edit]

The CMP's Distinguished International Shooter Badge (left) is awarded to civilians and military personnel, as is the Distinguished Rifleman Badge (left of center) and the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge (right of center); however, these two badges are hung from unique brooches (civilian brooch pictured) and the sea services use the name, "Distinguished Marksman Badge" for the rifle badge. The CMP's Junior Distinguished Badge (right) is awarded to junior shooters for repeated excellence with the air rifle.
The CMP authorized the design of the new .22 Rimfire Pistol Distinguished Badge in early 2015. This badge has yet to be awarded.

In 1884, the United States Secretary of War authorized the establishment of the "distinguished class" of marksman. In 1887, the Secretary authorized the first Distinguished Marksman Badge to recognize the shooters who achieved this distinguished class of marksman with the rifle, carbine, revolver, or any combination of the three. This continued until the establishment of the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge in 1903 and the Distinguished Rifleman Badge in 1959. However, the Distinguished Marksman Badge is still awarded to distinguished rifle shooters of the sea services (U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard). These two badges were the U.S. armed forces' highest awards for rifle and pistol marksmanship until 1962 when the CMP established the Distinguished International Shooter Badge. In 2001, the Junior Distinguished Badge was established for junior air rifle competitors while the CMP's newest distinguished program, the .22 Rimfire Pistol Distinguished Badge (authorized in 2015), has been established for adult and junior shooters alike. Today, the Distinguished International Shooter Badge is the highest award for marksmanship within the U.S. followed by the Distinguished Rifleman/Marksman Badge, the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge, the .22 Rimfire Pistol Distinguished Badge, and the Junior Distinguished Badge.[10][12][44][45][70][71]

As with all distinguished badges, a shooter must earn 30 leg points to be awarded the Distinguished International Shooter Badge. However the means by which one earns these leg points is very different. International leg points are awarded based on a shooter's placement at international marksmanship competitions; specifically the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the World Clay Target Championships, the World Cup Finals, the World Cup, the Pan American Games, the Championship of the Americas, the World Junior Championships, and the Americas Junior Championships. Depending on where a shooter places in these games, individually or as a team, will dictate the number of international leg points earned.[70]

The Distinguished International Shooter Badge consists of a gold brooch that is 1.8 inches in length inscribed with the words "United States;" perched above the words is a small modified shield from the Great Seal of the United States flanked by oak leaves. The pendant that hangs from this brooch is a gold disk 1.5 inches in diameter with a relief of the Earth, centered on the Western Hemisphere. Laurel leaves inscribed with the words “Distinguished International Shooter” surround the globe.[70]

Each of the U.S. armed force's and CMP's distinguished marksmanship badges hangs from a service specific brooch. As with the Distinguished International Shooter Badge, the civilian brooch incorporates a modified shield from the Great Seal of the United States but has the letters "US" embossed on its face. The U.S. Army's brooch also incorporates this modified shield but has it perched above the words "U.S. ARMY" in the same manner as the Distinguished International Shooter Badge. The other military services have a plain rectangular brooch embossed with the name of their service. The rifle badge pendant of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and civilians is a gold shield 1 1/2 inches in height and 1 13/32 inches in width, in the center of which is an enameled replica of a rifle target. Around the target are the words "DISTINGUISHED" and "RIFLEMAN," which is arched above and stretched below the target respectively. The sea service's pendant displays the word “MARKSMAN” vs. RIFLEMAN underneath the target. The pistol badge pendant is similar in design to the rifle pendant but is 1 1/4 inches in height and 1 3/64 inches in width and has the words "PISTOL SHOT" stretched below an enameled replica of a pistol target. The exception to this rule is the Air Force Distinguished Pistol Shot pendant, which is identical to the rifle badge pendant but with the words "PISTOL SHOT" stretched under the enameled replica of a rifle target. This larger pistol pendant was also awarded to U.S. Coast Guard shooters between 1993 and 1996, but was rescinded in favor of the more traditional pistol pendant.[25][44][45][70]

These badges are onetime decorations and may be worn on U.S. Armed Forces' service uniforms for the remainder of an individual’s career. These badges may be worn simultaneously with the U.S. Army's and U.S. Marine Corps's marksmanship qualification badges as well as other authorized marksmanship competition badges not to exceed a total of three badges. However once a distinguished marksmanship badge for a given weapon has been awarded, the EIC badge for that weapon can no longer be worn on military service uniforms. Subdued versions of these badges are not authorized. With the exception of the U.S. Coast Guard, miniature versions of these badges are also not authorized. The Coast Guard has authorized the wear of special marksmanship devices on top of their marksmanship ribbons ( U.S. Coast Guard Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with Distinguished Marksman Device U.S. Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with Distinguished Pistol Shot Device ) to denote the awarding of a distinguished marksmanship badge and is used when wearing the badge is not desired.[1][2][3][4][5]

The NRA's Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman Badges
The NRA's Distinguished Pistol Badges

The NRA's Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman Badge (Prone) and Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman Badge (Position) were established in 1965 while the Double Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman Badge was established in 2009. The distinguished smallbore awards are considered more difficult to earn than the CMP's equivalent badge because shooters who have already achieved NRA's "distinguished status" are allowed to compete agents those that have not yet achieve the award, thus raising the bar for the would-be smallbore distinguished rifleman. Four step certificates must be earned in order to be awarded one of these badges. A step certificate is earned by placing in the top ten percent at an Open Regional or National Championship, and only two step certificates per year will count towards "distinguished status." At least one step must be earned at the National Outdoor Championship. Therefore it takes a minimum of two years to earn one of the distinguished smallbore rifleman badges.[11][72]

The NRA established the Law Enforcement Distinguished Marksmanship Program in 1973 with the introduction of the Law Enforcement Distinguished Revolver Badge. In 1990, the NRA amended the program by introducing the Law Enforcement Distinguished Semi-Automatic Pistol Badge. The Distinguished Action Pistol Badge and Conventional Pistol Distinguished Badge were established for U.S. civilian competitors in 1985 and 2005 respectively. Just like the CPRPFS programs, a 30 leg point system is used to earn these NRA distinguished badges and similar rules apply for how leg points are earned.[11][15][73][74]

NRA's newest distinguished program is their Distinguished Air Gun Program which was established in 2010. This program mirrors the NRA Distinguished Smallbore Rifle Program where four step certificates must be earned in order to be awarded the Distinguished Air Gun Badge (Precision) or the Distinguished Air Gun Badge (Sporter). The Double Distinguished Air Gun Badge is awarded when a shooter has earned four step certificates in both precision and sporter matches.[11][75][76][77]

Former Distinguished Badges[edit]
Former US Army Distinguished Aerial Badges.png

Starting in 1926, the U.S. Army Air Corps began awarding distinguished aerial badges. The Air Corps held three gunnery matches; one for pursuit pilots, one for observation and attack pilots, and one for observers. They also held two bombing matches, one for heavier than air craft and one for balloons. Winners of these matches received either the Distinguished Aerial Gunner Badge or the Distinguished Aerial Bomber Badge. These matches were suspended in 1932; thus, it's assumed these badges were retired sometime after that date.[78]

Former United States Navy Expert Team Rifleman Badge
Former U.S. Navy Expert Team Rifleman Badge
Former United States Army Distinguished Automatic Rifleman Badge
Former U.S. Army Distinguished Automatic Rifleman Badge

According to articles from American Rifleman Magazine and the U.S. Navy's Firing Regulations for Small Arms from the early 1900s, the U.S. Navy use to award an Expert Team Rifleman Badge to Navy and Marine Corps personnel who qualified as expert rifleman numerous times and excelled in official rifle marksmanship competitions. The badge was designed "to encourage team competitions and to distinguish a class of officers and men who have shown superior skill in team competitions." To earn the Expert Team Rifleman Badge, a shooter must have qualified as expert with the service rifle four times and have high placement at three official rifle marksmanship competitions. In the U.S. Marine Corps's uniform regulation of 1922, the Navy's Expert Team Rifleman Badge ranked between the Distinguished Marksman Badge and the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge in precedence. It is not know when this badge was retired, but the badge did appear in the October 1943 edition of National Geographic Magazine, suggesting it was still an authorized decoration during World War II.[34][79][80][81]

From 1930 through the late 1940s, the U.S. Army awarded the Distinguished Automatic Rifleman Badge to those who had earned the Army's Team Marksmanship Badge for BAR with sufficient points to qualify for "distinguished status." When marksmanship competitions resumed after World War II, the Army limited competitions to the rifle and pistol. Thus, the Distinguished Automatic Rifleman Badge was retired, along with the Army's Automatic Rifle Team Marksmanship Badge.[28]

Competition Ranking Badges[edit]

President's Hundred Tabs and Brassard[edit]

United States Army's miniature metal version of the President's 100 Tab for wear on the Army service uniform
U.S. Army's service uniform version of the President's Hundred Tab
United States Coast Guard's President's 100 Tab for wear on Coast Guard uniforms
U.S. Coast Guard's version of the President's Hundred Tab
President's 100 Brassard awarded authorized for wear on United States Navy enlisted service uniforms
U.S. Navy's and U.S. civilian's President's Hundred Brassard
Video: Earning the President's Hundred Tab

The President's Hundred Tab and/or Brassard are presented to the 100 top-scoring U.S. military and U.S. civilian shooters at the President's Pistol Match and President's Rifle Match. The President's hundred award started in 1878 at the American Military Rifle Championship Match, which was patterned after an event for British Volunteers called The Queen's Match. All U.S. military and U.S. civilian personnel who earn this award are presented with a bronze metallic President's Hundred Brassard. However, only the U.S. Navy has authorized the wear of the metallic brassard, on the upper-left sleeve of enlisted service uniforms, as a permanent award. A cloth tab, with the words "President's Hundred," is worn by soldiers and enlisted coast guardsman who have earned the brassard. An olive-drab version of the tab is worn on the upper-left sleeve of the Army Combat Uniform while a black and white version of the tab is worn on the upper-left sleeve of Coast Guard enlisted uniforms as a permanent award. A smaller gold metal replica of the Army tab, with green lettering, is worn on the left breast of the Army service uniforms above or below ribbons and above medals.[1][3][4][24][52][82][83][84][85]

Marine Corps Specific Competition Badges[edit]

USMC Unique Marksmanship Competition Badges.png

When the U.S. Marine Corps began its marksmanship qualification program in the early 20th Century, it also establish a marksmanship competition program to help further advance the skills of its expert shooters. In the summer of 1908, the Marine Corps instituted the Distinguished Marksman Badge to recognition winners at the national marksmanship matches. That same year, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the first real Marine Corps wide match by providing for four division matches. As a result of these early matches, the Marine Corps began to award numerous different marksmanship competition badges. Today, these badges are awarded alongside trophies and other prizes that are presented to the top performing marines at Marine Corps competitions. The following are Marine Corps competition badges not associated with the CMP:[2][49][60][86][87]

  • Lauchheimer Trophy Badges (Gold, Silver, and Bronze)
  • Marine Corps Rifle Championship Badge (McDougal Trophy)
  • Marine Corps Pistol Championship Badge (Walsh Trophy)
  • Inter-Division Rifle Competition Badge
  • Inter-Division Pistol Competition Badge
  • Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Combat Infantry Trophy Match Badge
  • Annual Rifle Squad Combat Practice Competition Badges (Gold, Silver, and Bronze)
  • Rifle Team Match Badges (San Diego, Wharton, Elliott, Wirgman, Lloyd, and Smith Trophies)
  • Pistol Team Match Badges (Holcomb, Edson, Shively, and Pacific Trophies)

Of the 24 Marine Corps competition badges (not counting metal color/level), seven are part of the CMP while the 17 listed above are awarded for high placement at Marine Corps specific competitions. Of those 17 badges, one is truly unique as it is not solely focused on marksmanship but on a Marine rifle squad's proficiency by demonstrating their capability for employment in combat. The Annual Rifle Squad Combat Practice Competition Badge is awarded to the top performing rifle squads within each Marine infantry regiment or division. Each rifle squad is evaluated on their offensive tactics, defensive tactics, patrolling, marksmanship, and physical fitness. Each rifle squad can be accompanied by a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, making this badge awardable to Navy personnel.[2][3][50][88]

These badges are onetime decorations and may be worn on service uniforms for the remainder of a marine's military career. These badges may be worn simultaneously with Marine Corps marksmanship qualification badges as well as other authorized marksmanship competition badges not to exceed a total of three badges. Subdued and miniature versions are not authorized.[2]

Army Interservice Competition Badges[edit]

U.S. Army Interservice Competition Badge, awarded at the Interservice Pistol Matches for 3rd place at the .22 Caliber Team Match

Unlike the other marksmanship competition badges, unique U.S. Army Interservice Competition Badges are awarded to soldiers and Army marksmanship teams that place in the top three positions of an interservice match. These badges are separate awards from the CPRPFS's distinguished marksmanship programs, where a competitor earns leg points towards "distinguished status." The pentagon shaped multicolored pendant of the Army Interservice Competition Badge incorporates the emblems of the five military services which surround a modified shield from the Great Seal of the United States. The pendant hangs from an elaborate brooch which bears the name of the event, the name of the match, and the competitor's or team's ranking at that match.[1][51][89]

The Army Interservice Competition Badges are onetime decorations and may be worn on U.S. Army service uniforms for the remainder of a soldier’s military career. These badges may be worn simultaneously with the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges as well as other authorized marksmanship competition badges not to exceed a total of three badges. However, only one Army Interservice Competition Badge can be worn at a time. Subdued and miniature versions are not authorized.[1][89][citation needed]

National Guard/State Competition Badges[edit]

The National Guard Bureau's Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge

Once a year, thousands of Army and Air National Guard shooters (champion marksmanship teams from each state) compete against each other at the Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championships (a.k.a. the National Guard Small Arms Championships or the WPW Matches), held at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas. Guardsman compete as teams and/or individuals with combat rifles, combat pistols, machine guns, and sniper rifles for top honors within the National Guard. At the conclusion of the WPW Matches, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau awards the Chief's Fifty Marksmanship Badge to the top thirty-five combat rifle, top ten combat pistol, top three machine gunners, and top two snipers.[13][54][90][91]

The Chief's Fifty Marksmanship Badge is a gold-plated circular medal, 1 1/8th inches in diameter suspended from a gold-plated multi-tiered rectangular brooch embossed with the words "NATIONAL GUARD." The medal is embossed with the words "Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championships," the National Guard Bureau Branch Insignia, and the Minuteman on its face. At the base of the medal is a gold scroll embossed with the words "CHIEF"S 50." The Chief's Fifty Marksmanship Badge was made official in 1978 and made retroactive to 1971.[54]

Guardsmen are authorized to wear the Chief's Fifty Marksmanship Badge as a permanent decoration on service uniforms, to the left of federal marksmanship badges and awards, when operating under Title 32 (state control) status. When federalized (Title 10), guardsman cannot wear the badge on Army or Air Force uniforms until they return to Title 32 status.[1][54]

Maryland's Law Enforcement Governor's Twenty Badge
U.S. National Guard's Governor's Twenty Tab

The National Rifle Association sponsors a Law Enforcement Governor's Twenty Badge which is designed to recognize the top Twenty law enforcement officers from each state for excellence in police combat pistol competition. Each state's program is administered by their respective league or association. Typically, the top three scores of each officer is averaged and the top twenty officers are recognized with the Governor's Twenty Badge. Although sponsored by the NRA, each state's badge has it own unique design.[53][73][92]

The Governor's Twenty Tab is a state-level National Guard award, created in 1968, that is awarded to the top twenty shooters in a state. However, award criteria vary from state-to-state. For example, within the Texas Military Forces, only eight guardsmen are presented this award for rifle, eight for pistol, two for sniper, and two for machine gun each year. Texas guardsmen compete against other National Guard soldiers and airmen who have already received the award; thus, there may be one or two new recipients of this award each year. As of July 2014, 14 states have authorized the awarding of the Governor's Twenty Tab. Because this award is a state-level award, soldiers and airman in the National Guard operating under state status (Title 32) are authorized to wear this tab.[1][93][94][95][96]

Missouri National Guard's Governor's Twelve Tab

In the Missouri National Guard, a Governor's Twelve Tab is awarded to the top twelve shooters that are selected to represent the Missouri National Guard at the Winston P. Wilson matches. These tabs are worn on the upper-left sleeve of the Army Combat Uniform below individual tabs and above unit and Honor Guard Tabs. The Missouri National Guard also award a Governor's Twelve Ribbon that accompanies the tab which is worn on dress uniforms; any guardsman who earns the award more than once wear Hawthorn Cluster Device(s) on top of the ribbon ( Missouri National Guard Governor's Twelve Ribbon with three Hawthorn Cluster Devices signifying a fourth award ). Because this award is a state-level award, soldiers and airman in the National Guard operating under federal status (Title 10) are not authorized to wear this award.[1][13][97][98]

In the Iowa National Guard, the top ten rifle and/or pistol shooters from the state's guard units, as well as local U.S. Army Reserve units, that compete at the Iowa Governor’s 10 Shooting Competition are awarded the Governor's Ten Tab. Prior to 2008, the Governor’s Ten Tab was awarded to the top five pistol and top five rifle shooters. Today, the rifle and pistol scores are combined so only the best 10 overall shooters earn the tab. As with other state awards, soldiers and airman in the National Guard operating under state authority (Title 32) are authorized to wear this award.[1][99]

Missouri National Guard's Adjutant General's Twenty Combat Badge

Some states have marksmanship badges that are awarded by their State Adjutant General, such as the Missouri National Guard Adjutant General's Twenty Combat Badge. This circular badge is awarded to those guardsmen who place in the top twenty competitors at the state's annual combat matches for the rifle/pistol championships. Some 100 shooters compete in the annual state matches and participants compete against other guardsman who have already received the award; thus there might only be one or two new recipients of the badge each year.[13]

The Missouri Adjutant General's Twenty Combat Badge was created in the 1980s to recognize the top eight rifle, eight pistol, two machine gun, and two sniper shooters at the state's annual combat matches. As those matches changed, the award shifted to the top twenty competitors at the state's rifle/pistol championships.[13]

The badge is worn centered on the right breast pocket of the Army Combat Uniform and Airman Battle Uniform. Also, recipients of this badge are awarded the Missouri Adjutant General's Twenty Ribbon ( Missouri National Guard Adjutant General's Twenty Ribbon ) for wear on Army and Air Force Service Dress Uniforms. Just like the Chief's Fifty and Governor's Twenty awards, the Adjutant General's Twenty Combat Badge and Ribbon are state-level awards and can only be worn on Army and Air Force uniforms when operating under Title 32 of the U.S. Code.[1][13][100][101][102]

National Match Team Badge (Historical)[edit]

Former U.S. National Match Team Badge

In 1903, the 57th U.S. Congress created the National Marksmanship Competition Matches which provided for the creation of the National Match Team (Dogs of War) Trophy. Winners of the National Match Team (Dogs of War) Trophy were also awarded an antique bronze National Match Team (Dogs of War) Badge along with the top 15% of the teams that competed in these matches.[28][103][104]

The pendant of the National Match Team (Dogs of War) Badge replicated the bronze shield of the national trophy which had the names of the four military services, at that time, (the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and National Guard) embossed on small rectangles below a small replica of the Great Seal of the United States on the left side of the badge's pendant. To the right of this was a prominent design of an ancient warrior with four dogs on leashes (the dogs of war). To the right of the warrior was the following embossed phrase: "National Trophy Presented by the Congress of the United States for Excellence in Team Marksmanship." Below the leashed dogs, at the base of the pendant, is a short embossed statement reflecting why the badge was awarded. This pendant hung from a plain rectangular brooch embossed with the words "THE NATIONAL MATCH TEAM."[28]

As with today's U.S. Army Interservice Competition Badges, the awarding of the National Match Team (Dogs of War) Badge was separate from the leg points used towered "distinguished status," but did count towards a now defunct requirement whereby an individual must earn a certain number of marksmanship awards, in addition to the required 30 leg points, to achieve "distinguished status." In 1919, this badge gave way to National Match Team (Dogs of War) Medals. Today, teams that win this prestigious trophy are presented with a National Match Team (Dogs of War) Plaque.[28][103][104]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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