In 1965, The National Rifle Association established a series of Distinguished Rifleman awards modeled after those awarded to service rifle and pistol shooters.  In many respects it is one of the best-kept secrets in smallbore competition.  The details are listed in the final pages of the NRA Smallbore Rule Book.  Earning this award brings to the shooter self-satisfaction as well as a number of more intrinsic awards.  Upon earning the title Distinguished the NRA issues a medallion, brassard, and a lapel pin.  In addition, the shooter’s name is added to a trophy plaque that is displayed in the NRA Awards Room, located in the arcade at Camp Perry.  Several Rhode Island shooters have their names engraved on those plaques.  It is worth taking a few moments in your hectic Perry schedule to visit the trophy room.

A shooter must earn four ‘steps’ to be eligible for distinguished.  No more than two ‘steps’ may be earned in any one-year.  A ‘step’ certificate is awarded when a shooter places in the top ten percent of the competitors in an open regional, The National Indoor Rifle Championship, and the National Outdoor Rifle Championship.  An additional requirement is that at least one ‘step’ must be earned at the National Outdoor Championships.

There are Distinguished awards for both prone and position shooting.  While both awards are not easy to earn, the prone award appears to be harder.  The plaque for prone shooters is not yet full, while the position shooters have filled one plaque, and started on another.  There are fewer than 200 shooters total who have earned the honor of Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman.  Of that number some have earned both.  There are not a lot of “Double Distinguished” in the Smallbore ranks, but “Spike” Hadley of Rhode Island is one of that select few.

Goals are important to shooters.  They help them develop and improve.  Earning one of these awards is a lofty and worthwhile goal for any serious competitor.  If you want the thrill of seeing your name on a trophy, with the likes of Olympians and other shooting greats such as Art Cook, Walt Tomsen, Lones Wigger, Jack Foster, Lanny Bassham, and Margaret Murdock, then you can.

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,
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