Selfridge Airman Earns National Marksmanship Award

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
A Selfridge Airmen earned gold in his very first ever marksmanship competition.

Master Sgt. Craig Shepard, a member of the 127th Communications Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., won the 2012 National Trophy Pistol Match held this summer at Camp Perry, Ohio. The match was part of the Civilian Marksmanship Program and comprised of 400 competitors, including both military and civilian participants. Shepard won the M-9 pistol match.

"To come out and take first place in your first match, that's pretty remarkable," said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Suwinski, a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron and a long-time participant in a variety of high-level marksmanship events. "To beat 400 people your first time out, that needs to be hyped."

Beyond his basic Air Force qualifications, Shepard said he only began shooting about one and a half years ago, working with a retired member of the Michigan Air National Guard, Brent Brown, as a mentor. He began by completing a National Rifle Association Handgun Qualification Course and is close to completing a second, similar course. Shepard said he generally shoots about 3-5 times a month, but increased frequency in the days running up to the competition.

He said he enjoys many aspects about shooting sports, but an elusive goal of perfection is high on the list of motivators.

"I was hooked from the beginning because of the skills required to shoot well," he said. "To date there has never been a perfect Bullseye match shot and some serious competitors have devoted substantial time, resources, and effort trying to do just that."

While he said he, like many others, are hoping for a Bullseye match someday, Shepard said he never really expected to do so well in his first match.

"It was crazy. I have to be honest, I was giddy, he said. "Shooters go to the Nationals year after year for a life time and don't win a match. Shooting sports competitors are all genuinely happy for you as a winner because they understand how rare it is to actually win a match at the nationals. My prayers were answered and I was blessed the day I won at Camp Perry."

Shepard said a benefit of participating in shooting sports is that it takes relatively little time away from being with his family.

"Much of your preparation is done at home and actual range time is brief, an hour or two at most," he said. " My wife Kim and daughter Abby have been very supportive of my shooting endeavors. Without their support I would not be as good a shooter as I am today."

Shepard said he is continuing to participate in competitions and plans to shoot in an upcoming competition with members of the 127th Security Forces Squadron.