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More than 320 active-duty Soldiers, Reservists, Guardsmen and cadets are registered to compete in the 2012 U.S. Army Small Arms Championship, set to begin Thursday and run through March 10 on Fort Benning, the highest number of competitors in 19 years.
The All-Army, hosted by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, has established attendance records the last three years. Soldiers stationed in Germany, Hawaii, and all across the country have signed up. It is a testament to the quality of the event and the emphasis that Soldiers and units across the Army formation place on marksmanship.
Marksmanship is the paramount Soldier skill, said Lt. Col. Dan Hodne, commander, USAMU. It is the key component to Soldiers, units and Army combat readiness.
The championships begin with a full day of small arms firing schools conducted by USAMU experts before Soldiers toe the firing line. Competitors appear in rifle, pistol and combined arms matches. Within those disciplines are Excellence-in-Competition matches, demanding two-mile run-and-shoot matches, team matches and the opportunity to learn marksmanship techniques and skills from peers and USAMU Soldiers.
Soldiers will compete in separate Cadet, Novice, Open and Pro classes based on their competition experience.
There also are special category awards and trophies for high drill sergeant, high novice and high enlisted Soldier, Guard, and Reserve (E1-E4).
Champions will be awarded All-Army trophies and Soldiers who finish in the top 10 percent will earn EIC Marksmanship Badges, which are permanent-wear Army awards as described in Army Regulation 600-22 and have precedence above the standard qualification badges.
Two coveted Secretary of the Army Trophy M-1 Garand Rifles will also be presented to two champions.