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July 10, 2008

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An Inside Look At The Army Marksmanship Unit

2008usamuolympians005 The Army Marksmanship Unit has a fascinating history. It was started in 1956 as a way to counter Soviet dominance in elite shooting events during the Cold War. Today, as then, its mission is to train Olympic-level shooters.

A feature in today’s New York Times (of all places) offers an inside look at some of the AMU members and their day-to-day duties.

One of the most important missions of the AMU is to instruct their fellow soldiers:

During the Vietnam War, the unit’s shooters traveled to Southeast Asia to set up sniper schools and sometimes fought on the front lines. Gunsmiths at the unit’s firearms shop used their expertise to help develop the M-21 sniper rifle during that time.

More recently, shooters have left the unit to serve overseas, including in Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea. In 2005, a group traveled to Iraq to train soldiers, although now they do most of the coaching before deployment.

Training 3,000 soldiers a year is the work that gives many of the unit’s members the most satisfaction, they say. What better skill can a deploying soldier learn, after all, than to be a good shot?

“You can see it on their faces, some of these guys,” said Sgt. First Class Tom Tamas, a rifle shooter who competed in two Olympics but did not qualify this year. “They’re not getting it. And we can pick that up, help them out.”

Even though one of the AMU’s primary jobs is to bring home medals in international competition—and here’s to hoping the AMU does just that in Beijing—it is good to know that the Army has created a system where the skills of the country’s best shooters are harnessed and passed along to other soldiers going into harms way.

—John Snow


Tom Sorenson

That great - no one needs that knowledge more than those going into battle for our country.


And then the soldiers just trained can and do pass it on to others in their units.

I learned high-precision shooting as a younster at Ft. Myers (right across from the Pentagon) and trained vigorously right through college (captain of NROTC pistol and rifle teams) and then used that training to defend myself and others in Southeast Asia on TDY.

Now, 35+ years later, I teach youngsters every Friday night at our gun club. And they are so enthusiastic and dedicated to doing it right, and they bring their good, and responsible, friends - and we keep passing on the good and proper information and skills.

I'm Navy, but three cheers for the AMU!


Being an Unit Markmanship Coordinator with an Combat Engineer Company with the Kentucky Army National Guard Unit now serving in Afghanistan, I know the importance in training a marksman, instilling a sense of pride in accomplishing the techniqe of proper firearm handling. I still keep up with the winnings of the Kentucky State Rifle teams, being madeup of both Army and Air Force personel... This team under the training of SFC.Reed has won many matches lately. instilling pride to both, the individuals and the State of Kentucky. It still makes me proud to read of the progress of this and other units throughout the U.S.A., and love to pass on the things I've learned.. Now being Retired doesn't change my desire to shoot. or learn more myself.