By Gary Anderson, DCM Emeritus
With all of the 2023 ISSF and WSPS international shooting competitions that count towards the awarding of the U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge now completed, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) and USA Shooting (USAS) are pleased to announce that nine USA Shooting rifle, pistol, shotgun and paralympic athletes earned this prestigious award during the 2023 competition year. These nine shooting athletes earned their International Distinguished Badges through high ranking performances in International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)
Championships or in World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) and Parapan American Championships. The 2023 honorees range in age from 18 to 56. Five are classified as international juniors (two are 18-year-olds), four are para-athletes, two in rifle and two in pistol, one is a member of the Texas Christian University Rifle Team and one shotgun athlete is from the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Moore, Georgia. Three of the nine are women.
America’s Marksmanship Distinguished Badge Program traces its history back to the first gold Distinguished Marksman Badges awarded by the U.S. Army in 1887. This program, which has been administered by the CMP since 1996, offers competitors opportunities to earn 11 different Distinguished Badges. Of those 11 badges, the one that is the most difficult to earn is the U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge. This is because to earn this badge, a rifle, pistol, or shotgun athlete must first qualify for a USA Shooting National Team that represents the USA in ISSF or WSPS Championships. ISSF Championships include the Olympic Games, World Shooting Championships, World Cups, Pan American Games and Championship of the Americas (CAT). WSPS Championships for athletes with disabilities include the Paralympic Games, WSPS World Championships, and the Parapan American Games. Junior athletes are eligible to earn International Distinguished credit points in Junior World Championships. Two of the 2023 honorees earned their badges solely with points earned in Junior World Championships.
Making a USA Shooting National Team is only the first step in earning this badge. To be awarded the badge, a National Team member must then earn 30 International Distinguished credit points with medal-winning or high place finishes in ISSF or WSPS Championships where they compete against the best athletes from countries all over the world. Credit points vary from 30 points awarded for Olympic or Paralympic Games gold, silver, or bronze medals to five points that are awarded for third place finishes in the Pan American and Parapan Games. Ten and 5 points are awarded for medal finishes in Junior World Championships. Earning an Olympic or Paralympic Quota Place for the USA merits 10 bonus points. Olympic Mixed Team events (one man and one woman) receive credit points. World Championship team events were restored to International Distinguished credit point eligibility in 2022.
Regulations for awarding the International Distinguished Badge are found in the current CMP Smallbore Rifle and Air Rifle/Air Pistol Rulebooks. Copies of those rulebooks can be viewed or downloaded at: http://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-competitions-rulebooks/. The CMP maintains records of all international distinguished credit points earned by USA Shooting athletes who have not yet received the International Distinguished Badge. Athletes can check their records by logging on to: https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=reportShootersWithDistinguishedPoints. Questions about international badge status should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
USA Shooting (https://www.usashooting.org/) is the U.S. National Governing Body for Olympic and Paralympic Shooting sports. USAS is responsible for selecting, training and supporting USA Shooting National Teams that represent the USA in ISSF or WSPS Championships. The International Distinguished Badge was instituted by the Department of Defense in 1963, pursuant to recommendations from the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. Responsibility for administering this program was transferred to the CMP when Congress and the U.S. President established the Civilian Marksmanship Program as a federally-chartered, non-profit corporation in 1996. The CMP now administers the Program in accordance with authority granted to it by federal law (36 USC §40722 (3).
2023 U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge winners are listed here in order of their badge numbers:
Benjamin Keller, Johnstown CO, Age 18, Badge #545.
Keller is a Skeet athlete and one of two 18-year-olds who earned all of their International Distinguished credit points in ISSF Junior Championships. Keller made his international debut in 2019 as a 14-year-old. He started earning international credit points in ISSF Junior Championships in 2021 and 2022. Going into the 2023 Junior World Championship in Changwon, Korea, he already had 25 points, which included a Skeet Junior Men World Championship won at Osiek, Croatia in 2022. Keller concluded his quest for the badge in spectacular fashion in 2023 by winning the Junior Men’s Skeet World Championship for the second year in a row.
Carey Garrison, Crossville TN, Age 18, Badge #546.
Garrison is a Trap athlete who has the distinction of being the youngest athlete to ever make a USA Shooting National Team. Carey grew up in her family’s hunting lodge where she learned about the shooting sports. She began competitive shooting at age 9, made her first national team at age 12, and won her first international medal in 2019 at age 15. She earned her first International Distinguished Badge credit points in 2019. She won her last points to total 30 this year at the Junior World Championship in Changwon where she was the bronze medalist in the Junior Women’s Trap event. She subsequently teamed with William Browning to win the gold medal in the Trap Mixed Team Junior event.
Michael Tagliapietra, Fond du Lac WI, Age 56, Badge #547.
Tagliapietra is a pistol athlete who competes in SH1 class events. His quest for an International Distinguished Badge benefitted from a 2023 audit of past WSPS results lists that discovered International Distinguished credit points he had earned but which had not been credited to him. He has earned points in both the WSPS Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 and Mixed 25m Pistol SH1 events. To earn points, he had a WSPS World Championship placing in 2014, a World Cup gold medal in 2015, 2019 Para Pan American Games gold and bronze medals and a Paralympic Games Quota Place in 2016. When all these credits were added up, Tagliapietra had 45 points and easily qualified for the badge.
Jazmin Almlie-Ryan, Cypress TX, Age 42, Badge #548.
Jazmin began participating in a USA Shooting para training camp in 2011 and made her first national team in 2013. She is a rifle athlete who competes in the SH2 class. SH2 athletes have impairments that allow them to place their rifles on shooting stands which must meet specified requirements for flexibility. “Jaz” Almlie-Ryan has the distinction of having earned quotas for the USA in the 2016, 2020 and 2024 Paralympic Games. Her most recent international accomplishment took place during the 2022 WSPS World Championship in Al Ain, UAE when she earned her third Paralympic Quota in the 10m Air Rifle Prone Mixed SH2 event. Almlie-Ryan is married to her husband Matthew and has a daughter, Rebekah. She enjoys playing different adaptive sports like wheelchair rugby and is known to clock over 10 miles a day speed pushing around her neighborhood.
Katie Zaun, Buffalo ND, Age 20, Badge #549.
Katie Zaun comes from the small town of Buffalo, North Dakota. She now competes as a member of the Texas Christian University Rifle Team. Zaun has been shooting competitively since she was nine years old. She made her first Junior National Team in 2016 at age 13, and competed in her first World Cup in 2018. She earned her first International Distinguished credit points at the 2021 Junior World Championship in Suhl, Germany. In 2022, she earned points in the 50m Rifle Junior Women Team event during the World Championships in Cairo, Egypt. Katie earned her International Distinguished Badge in November 2022 during the Shooting Championship of the Americas (CAT) in Lima, Peru. Her credit point recognition was earned post competition in 2023 after her placing in the 50m Rifle Three-Position event was confirmed as a silver medal. That gave her additional international points for her CAT silver medal and made her the Olympic Quota Place winner for that event. With the ten point bonus that goes with winning an Olympic Quota Place, Katie Zaun had 30 total points and the International Distinguished Badge.
William Hinton, Dacula GA, Age 27, Badge #550.
Staff Sergeant Will Hinton trains and competes in international trap events as a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Shotgun Team at Fort Moore, Georgia. He is also part of the USAMU shotgun exhibition team. Hinton grew up in a family of bird hunters. This led to recreational shotgun shooting and then to active participation in FITASC and sporting clays competitions. He made his first USA Shooting Junior National Team at the age of 17 in 2013. By the time Hinton joined the Army Shotgun Team in 2016 he had decided to specialize in ISSF Trap. Hinton’s most spectacular international successes have come in the last two years. 2022 featured a gold medal and an Olympic Quota Place in Men’s Trap at the Championship of the Americas in Lima. This year’s highlights included a 4th place individual finish and membership on the gold medal USA Men’s Trap team in the World Championship at Baku, Azerbaijan in August. His successes in the Baku World Championship gave Hinton more than enough credit points to earn the International Distinguished Badge.
Rylan Kissell, Littleton CO, Age 21, Badge #551.
Kissell began competitive rifle shooting as a 13-year-old junior while growing up in the Denver, Colorado area. After high school, he joined the University of Alaska Rifle Team where his 2022-2023 competition season was especially noteworthy. He led all NCAA rifle athletes with a 598.462 60-shot air rifle average (integer scoring). He shot the first 600 x 600 ever in the 2023 NCAA Championship and led the Alaska Team to the NCAA Team Championship. Kissell’s first international experience came when he competed in the 2021 Junior World Championship in Lima, Peru. He finished third in Junior Men’s 10m Air Rifle, with teammate William Shaner, Olympic gold medalist, taking gold. Kissell earned additional international points with a 5th place finish in Junior Men’s 10m Air Rifle in the 2022 World Championship in Cairo. His final credit points in achieving the required 30-point total came in this year’s Pan American Games where he finished 2nd in the 10m event (he missed the gold medal by 0.1 points). Kissell then paired with 50m Three-Position gold medalist Mary Tucker to win the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event and gain the last credit points he needed to earn the badge. Kissell currently lives and trains as a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Marco De La Rosa, San Antonio TX, Age 56, Badge #552.
Marco De La Rosa is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. A Chicago, Illinois native, he began pistol shooting eight years ago through a program offered by a local Department of Veterans Affairs chapter. He became active in the USA Shooting Paralympic Program and experienced his first international competition in 2015 during a WSPS World Cup at Fort Moore, Georgia. He competed in the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima where he made finals in his two events, Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 and Mixed 25m Pistol SH1. By the time he reached the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, he had already accumulated 25 international credit points. He had two outstanding performances in Santiago. He won Gold in P3 Men’s 10m Air Pistol, where teammate Yanxiao Gong finished in third. He helped USA with a podium sweep in Mixed P3 25m Sport Pistol SH1 where he earned silver. Teammates Gong and Michael Tagliapietra won the gold and bronze medals. His winning 10m score earned him a 2024 Paralympic Quota. That gave him more than enough credit points to be designated as a new International Distinguished Badge winner.
Stetson Bardfield, Colorado Springs CO, Age 22, Badge #553.
Stetson Bardfield started shooting rifle in 2014 after his family moved to Fort Carson, Colorado, which is near Colorado Springs. He was introduced to shooting through the Warrior Games. He is classified as a SH2 athlete. His first international competition came in 2018 when he competed in the first Junior Paralympics. He competed in the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima where he won the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2 gold medal. Bardfield competed in the 2020 Paralympic Games where he finished 6th in the Air Rifle Prone SH2 event. He reached the magical 30-point total in this year’s Parapan American Games when won another gold medal in Air Rifle Prone SH2.
The CMP and USA Shooting extend their sincere congratulations to the nine USA Shooting athletes who through their outstanding performances in ISSF or WSPS/Paralympic international competitions have added their names to the roster of 527 athletes who have now earned the U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge.
The U.S. Government’s decision to establish the U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge was initiated by the CMP’s predecessor agency, the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, during the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. The Soviet Union (USSR) dominated international shooting competitions in the Olympics and World Championships at that time. In response, the leaders of the NBPRP and Army Marksmanship Unit sought to encourage the development of U.S. marksmen who could “beat the Russians” and win medals in international championships by establishing this prestigious award. A detailed history of this Distinguished Badge is posted on the CMP website at http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/USDISBHistory.pdf. After the first International Distinguished Badges were presented in 1963 to U.S. athletes who won medals in the 1962 World Championship, the awarding of the Badge was made retroactive to recognize U.S. international medal winners going back to the end of the 19th century. This roster of badge winners covers over 120 years of history involving some truly remarkable American rifle, pistol, running target, shotgun and paralympic athletes.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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