The True Reward For Shooting Well Is Satisfaction, Medals Are The Cherries
January 22, 2015Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸The True Reward For Shooting Well Is Satisfaction, Medals Are The Cherries
By Charles Fletcher, January 2015
Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge No. 1323
As a civilian shooter competing at Camp Perry for the first time in 1983, it was magical. Standing on hallowed ground competing at Camp Perry is an honor, humbling, and it’s very inspirational for a shooter to strive to shoot above their personal best. At my “debut” that year, I won first place in the Center Fire Timed Fire match with my score of 199-7X, shooting 45 ACP with open iron sights in the Civilian Expert class – earning me a NRA national championships gold medal, to my surprise and great delight. I had also placed three more times in the top 22 award placing that year. Winning the NRA gold medal in Timed Fire was a huge inspiration for me to continue to shoot well. And the irony is, when I arrived at Camp Perry that year, I remember thinking to myself, “This is my first time at Camp Perry, so, no winning for me. I’ll just relax . . . do my best . . . enjoy competing . . . and have fun.” With this mindset, I think it helped contribute to why I did well for someone new to Camp Perry.
Competing in pistol for seven days at Camp Perry gives shooters a good deal of free time to roam the base – visiting Commercial Row, the Mess Hall (still existed in 1983) and other facilities. In my exploration one day, I happened onto the DCM office. It was called DCM for The Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship then, before a name and organizational change came in 1996. I walked into the DCM office and there was only one staff member present. I asked if I could browse around, and I was given permission. The large office had a couple of dark wooden desks, a few pieces of wooden furniture and some shelves on the walls. The office was sparsely furnished and barely decorated. Then, I noticed on a wall for display purpose were three DCM EIC merit medals encased in a shadowbox.
The shadowbox was walnut framed with a dark navy blue felt backing inside. The three DCM medals were the Distinguished Pistol Shot gold medal, the Silver EIC medal and the Bronze EIC medal. The Distinguished medal was placed centered in the shadowbox with the two EIC medals placed side-by-side just under it. Seeing these medals for the first time was mesmerizing. They were very beautiful and had an aura about them, and most of all, they looked very official – military. The shadowbox display further added dignity and elegance to these prestigious medals. Viewing the Crown Jewels of England would not have impressed me more.
For many shooters, their wonderful hard-earned medals end up on the floor in a closet, buried and forgotten, collecting dust. My few earned medals suffered the same fate for 32 years, until now.
I have never forgotten the impression it left on me, seeing the DCM medals displayed in their shadowbox in the DCM’s office at Camp Perry over three decades ago. And when I saw them, I was very envious and dreamed that maybe one day I could earn these three beautiful medals. But I felt this may only be a dream because EIC, especially back then, was very hard to shoot, let alone do well and earn ‘Leg’ points toward becoming Distinguished. I promised myself then that if I do one day “Go Distinguished,” I would have my three medals showcased in a shadowbox exactly as the DCM’s were back then.
After going in and out of bullseye shooting over the last almost four decades, in 2004 I “went Distinguished,” to my great delight. When I received my Distinguished Pistol Shot gold medal on stage at the 2004 Camp Perry awards ceremony, I was happy beyond words. But even so, then I still couldn’t believe I got Distinguished. It took me a while after winning the EIC match in June 2004 at Gibbsboro, NJ, that it finally sunk in – I was Distinguished with medal number 1323.
Finally, the day has come. In my early/semi retirement now, I am very pleased I have finally displayed my medals in shadowboxes, and they are proudly displayed on a wall in my home office. I bought my shadowboxes from Medals of America. They are of beautiful quality and are reasonably priced.
Charles Fletcher has created a Wall of Fame, displaying the many medals and experiences marksmanship has brought him over the years.The Medals of America’s catalog and website show many examples of shadowboxes displaying military medals. That’s how I got my idea of how to arrange and showcase my medals. Their website also has a virtual tool where you can drag-and-drop medals into a shadowbox template, arranging them as you wish when you order. But this drag-and-drop feature is only for medals that you purchase online from them. So, I bought my shadowboxes, along with a name plaque engraved by them, and arranged my medals in my shadowboxes myself.
To sort of try to tell a story supporting my displayed medals, I created a collage of framed personal photos taken at Camp Perry over the years. In particular, note the photo of me standing outside the DCM’s office at Camp Perry in 1983, just before I went in and saw the three DCM EIC medals.
Winning in bullseye comes hard earned and is tremendously gratifying. Receiving nice, prestigious medals in recognition of marksmanship excellence is the cherry on the cake. Earning awards comes from commitment and hard work over time – many years of competing. My few medals earned over the years are an example of this. We don’t shoot and compete to beat other shooters, and we don’t shoot and compete to win medals. We shoot to try to constantly improve and reach our highest potential, whatever that is. From it, in our journey, awards and medals can and do come. The great personal satisfaction that we feel from shooting well is our true reward – it’s the “cake.” Given medals for our excellence is the “cherry” on our cake.
To new shooters just starting out in your shooting careers: You are trying to learn the proper fundamentals, trying to do well and are striving to improve. If you keep the passion for the sport, train smart and shoot matches ongoing, you will do well, and from it you will get a feeling of great personal satisfaction. And then, you too will start getting cherries for your cakes.
Life is good. 🙂
If you have a Distinguished story to share, please forward it to Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer/Editor, at [email protected]