CMP Mourns the Passing of Devoted Competitor Mike Miller
March 14, 2022Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸CMP Mourns the Passing of Devoted Competitor Mike Miller
Written in collaboration by Ashley Brugnone, Mike Barranco and Darita Miller
The CMP is disheartened to announce the passing of long-time competitor, volunteer and friend, Mike Miller of Peoria, Arizona, on Jan. 26, 2022. He was 75.
Mike had a magnetic personality and was a generous man – always willing to help those around him, including fellow competitors and juniors. He often volunteered to assist CMP staff members with coordinating supply deliveries and other tasks during the annual Western Games event at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, and was a warm presence each year.
“The CMP lost a great friend and competitor,” said Christie Sewell, CMP programs chief. “Mike Miller was one of a kind and someone we will never forget.”
Sewell recalls Mike’s many stories and jokes – remarking how fun he was to be around along with being a supportive colleague on the range.
“He was always willing to help when he saw one of us struggling and was there to greet us when we arrived,” she said. “Mike Miller was one of our special competitors who liked to get together with the CMP gang. He was a great competitor, but an even better friend. Mike will be deeply missed by all of us.”
CMP’s Christina Roguski, who became acquainted with Mike at events over the years, was grateful for his caring ways on both a professional and personal level.
“He was always smiling and having a great time, even if he wasn’t shooting all that well, and he would help out new competitors on the line if he could,” she said.
“When we would see each other, he always made a point to ask me about my family and kids, checking up on my grandbabies or ask how my daughter was doing at her competitions. He thought it was great she’s an air rifle shooter,” Roguski added with a grin. “He just always made you and everyone around you feel welcome – made you smile. I am really going to miss him.”
Stemming from time spent in the Army Reserves, Mike was proficient with the service rifle. On a whim and without knowing anyone there, he drove his motorhome across the country to attend the annual Camp Perry National Rifle Matches in Ohio for the first time in 2003. He went on to earn the coveted Distinguished Rifleman Badge in 2005 and eventually connected with California’s Coalinga Rifle Club, returning to Camp Perry as a member of the Coalinga team for several years. He also helped coach many of the juniors on the California Grizzlies service rifle team and served as an encouraging mentor at the National Matches.
To Mike, Camp Perry became a treasured place where he enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow shooting enthusiasts. It was also a site where he his talent was on display as he placed twice among the prestigious President’s 100 – a sought-after feat only attainable during the President’s Rifle event at the National Matches.
Though he was a force with the service rifle, it was the vintage wood guns that he truly enjoyed. He won many awards at Western Games with the Garand and ’03 Springfield and won the inaugural National Vintage Sniper Match at Camp Perry in 2011 with his Weaver 330-equipped ’03 beside his partner and best friend, Mike Barranco.
Part of the thrill each National Matches season was making the long journey to Ohio with his wife, Darita, in their fifth wheel camper. The trips home allowed the Millers to explore the vastness and beauty of the United States and was one of the couple’s greatest joys.
Over his lifetime, Mike worked a variety of jobs, including within his father’s furniture business and as a delivery driver. After a 41-year career as a captain with the Downey, California, Police Department, Mike retired in 2010. Five years later, he moved to a new home in Arizona, close to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. He spent his last few years coaching both the Arizona seniors and Arizona Scorpions junior service rifle teams, especially sharing his skills on the National Matches Infantry Trophy Team match.
To the many people who experienced Mike’s kindness, mentoring and assistance, it would be no surprise to know that his last good deed was to donate his corneas. Now, a part of Mike that was essential to the sport he loved will live on in another.
Miller is survived by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and his loving wife, Darita.