Jan. 12, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Recently, Ohio State student Sam Ohlinger (So., Lockbourne, Ohio) had a unique opportunity to serve his country at Fort Benning, Georgia. Over winter break, from December 12th-16th, Sam worked in cooperation with the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) to teach advanced marksmanship principles to select army personnel as part of an initiative called the Squad Designated Marksman program (SDM). The SDM program is the brainchild of the Army Marksmanship Unit's commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel David Liwanag. The goal of the program is to increase marksmanship proficiency throughout the Army by eventually having a squad designated marksman, meaning someone with this advanced training, in every squad of the Army.
With the scope of the project being so vast, the AMU quickly realized that it was understaffed. This being the case, they petitioned the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) for help with the program. The CMP organizes the National Matches every year at Camp Perry, Ohio. Since the National Matches were initiated by President Teddy Roosevelt as a way to improve civilian preparedness in case of military crisis, the CMP found this to be an excellent opportunity to fulfill its primary purpose. The CMP alerted competitors of the army's dilemma and invited about 50 highly qualified and accomplished civilian shooters to a training program in June, 2005. From this group, the AMU then selected a little over half of these men to become military rifle instructors.
Sam Ohlinger, at 19, was by far the youngest shooter to apply and be granted this honor. He is the only college student, with most of the new instructors being middle-aged and possessing many more years of experience. Sam is in his second year as a member of the OSU Varsity Rifle Team, but has competed in the military style shooting, called high-power service rifle competition, for the last six years, winning various awards and small honors, including representing America in Bisley, England, as part of a national under 25 year old team in the summer of 2003, and winning a national trophy for being the best civilian service rifle shooter from the state of Ohio at the 2005 National Matches. While in Georgia, he worked directly with members of the army's 82nd Airborne, the most frequently deployed unit in the army. These men had been selected for this advanced training by their expert scores on the army marksmanship qualification course. Sam and the other instructors worked on the principles of sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control as well as introducing the use of the sling supported position and advanced workings of iron sights. Finally, they worked with the soldiers using scopes and bipods, by this time teaching them to make shots at a range of 600 yards, doubling these soldiers effective range in the field from the standard army training that does not exceed 300 yards. All the soldiers were very enthusiastic about the program and appreciative of the time and effort put in by the AMU and the civilian volunteers. Sam is honored and privileged to be a part of this vast initiative with such important implications for improving our soldier's effectiveness and safety in the field.
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