In Memoriam: Bill Krilling

Fellow Black Hawk William E. (“Bill”) Krilling passed away on February 22, 2014, after a life that was long and well lived in service to his nation and the sport of shooting.

The man most of us knew as a constant presence as competitor and coach on the firing line at Camp Perry and numerous other ranges home and abroad was a soldier first.

As a noncommissioned officer he “distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Satae-ri, Korea, on 13 February 1953.” Wounded, Bill assumed command of his patrol after its commander was wounded, attacked an enemy position across a minefield, and rescued three of his injured companions, guided his men back to safety and only then allowed himself to be treated for his wounds. For this act of bravery Bill was awarded the second highest award for courage under fire, the Distinguished Service Cross.

Bill was also distinguished in several other ways, more familiar to his firing line friends. He won six national championship titles. He was the first person to shoot a perfect 3200 on the NRA outdoor prone course of fire and that was back in the day of the three pound trigger pull. He won four gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in international competitions. Along the way Bill was awarded the Distinguished Marksman Badge in 1955, United States International Distinguished Shooters Badge #35 in 1963, and NRA Smallbore Rifle Position and Prone Award in 1968 and 1968 respectively. He was also a Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) Champion and team member of a winning National Trophy Team Match

Following his service in his second war, Vietnam, Bill was assigned to the United States Army Marksmanship Training Unit (USAMU) where he served as a shooter, instructor, and coach until he retired in 1971 at the rank of Master Sergeant. Like an old fire horse responding the bell Bill was back at the USAMU in May 1974 as the coach of the International Rifle Team.

He also served as the U.S. National Team coach from 1981 to 1986 and has served in several different capacities for both the U.S. Team and the International Sport Shooting Federation. Bill was named the U.S. Olympic Committee 1998 National Shooting coach of the Year. Bill has served on numerous ISSF juries for world-level competitions include the juries for five Olympic Games. Bill was inducted into the AMU Hall of Fame in 1998.

Between May of 1973 and March of 2001 he coached his team to 105 CISM medals, 172 CAT medals, 84 Pan Am medals, 185 World Cup Medals, and 4 Olympic Medals; a grand total of 550 medals won in international competition.

At the opening ceremony for the 2011 International Shooting Sports Federation World Cup at Fort Benning he was awarded the highest ISSF honor, the “President Button” by the ISSF President, Mr. Olegario Vazquez Raña, whom Bill had coached when Raña was competing.

The William E. Krilling Trophy was donated to the NRA by the US Army Marksmanship Unit in honor of Krilling. The silver plated cup with a large black metal base, and three standing shooters on the base, was placed in competition in 2001 and is presented to the Three Position Metallic Sight Champion.

Bill Krilling dedicated nearly 53 of his 86 years to his nation and in return his nation dedicated a firing range at Fort Benning in his honor. The Krilling Range is an action and combat shooting range that is now the home of the USAMU Action Shooting Team.

We Are Diminshed.

About Hap Rocketto

Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. He was the 2002 Intermediate Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion, the 2012 Senior Three Position National Smallbore Rifle Champion a member of the 2007 and 2012 National Four Position Indoor Championship team, coach and captain of the US Drew Cup Team, and adjutant of the United States 2009 Roberts and 2013 Pershing Teams. Rocketto is very active in coaching juniors. He is, along with his brother Steve, a cofounder of the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s website, and most recently, the apogee of his literary career, pronematch.com.
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10 Responses to In Memoriam: Bill Krilling

  1. David Cooney says:

    There are many shooters here in Ireland that are saddened by the news of Bill’s passing. I have had the pleasure of meeting him several times in Camp Perry since 1971.What an Ambassador for shooting and the USA. They broke the mould after he was born. May he rest in peace

  2. Thank you for the notice of Mr. Krilling’s passing. Have shared on our facebook page. Puzzled that neither USA Shooting or NRA has any mention of him. RIP Bill.

  3. Richard Williams says:

    I was lucky enough to get to know Krilling in
    early 80s because Wigger allowed inept civilians
    to shoot at Benning when space available. One day Krilling saw my struggle w/kneeling and said
    “Open your belt”. Coachless and hapless (not a
    Rocketto pun) took me a while to understand a pithy lesson on effect of abdominal pressure
    points on pulse bounce. Krilling had an oft
    noted uncanny ability to take one look and see
    what was wrong with a position.

  4. Danny Wigger says:

    I have known Bill Krilling my entire life. He was a good friend a good coach and a mentor. One quick story- When I was in high school he had forgotten a piece of equipment at his home and I rode with him on the Columbus bypass in his old car. to date it was the fastest speed I have ever been he made me promise not to tell my dad!! It was great.I was lucky to have him as a coach We would be shooting 50 meters and with a blind eye he would see the shot and give me sight agustments amazed me. Bill woll definitely be missed by me
    Danny Wigger

  5. Laura Nickerson says:

    I am Krilling’s granddaughter Laura Nickerson. I just wanted to thank you all for your kind words and great stories. I can see grandpa doing all of that. We have set a memorial date for him for the end of March. His memorial will be at Parks Range after The World Cup on Saturday March 29th, 2014.

  6. Elizabeth Valentin Napieralski says:

    Mr. Krilling was an outstanding individual, an exemplary coach and wonderful mentor. I am truly blessed to have him as one of my first coaches.

  7. Kathy Krilling Nickerson says:

    I would like to thank everyone who is posting on this site. My dad touched alot of people with his uncany ability to see what a person was doing wrong with a position and correct the problem. He was a wonderful dad and grandfather.He was a great friend to alot of people and once you were my dads friend you were his friend for life.I will miss his wonderful smile and his blue eyes, but I know he is in a better place now.

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