by Hap Rocketto
The ultimate achievement for a service rifle or pistol shooter is to earn Distinguished designation. The Distinguished Rifleman, Distinguished Marksman, and Distinguished Pistol Shot Badges are awarded to members of the Armed Forces, or civilians, in recognition of “a preeminent degree of achievement in target practice with the service rifle or pistol.”1 The United States Distinguished International Shooter Badge awarded for excellence in international competition with the rifle, pistol, and shotgun is the ultimate recognition of success for the shooter who toils in the world wide arena.
In order to boost marksmanship training, and give extra prestige to those who excelled at musketry, War Department General Orders Number 12 was promulgated on February 20, 1884 directing that “…whenever any marksman has been three times a member of a department team or has won any of the three authorized prize medals, he will be announced in general orders from these headquarters as belonging to a distinguished class…”. Since then an untold number have started out on a path that only a relative few have completed. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Philip Sheridan, feared that the Army’s crack shots would enjoy a long and successful career, to the detriment of upcoming marksman. He directed that any soldier who had been three times a member of a department team or won any of three of the Army‟s major marksmanship awards would be no longer eligible to compete for those awards.
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