Bogalusa native stands out with U.S. Army rifle team

Published 4:29 am Friday, January 5, 2018

The definition of success is the accomplishment of one’s goals. For the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based in Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga., Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Green was the embodiment of that definition last year, during the summer season.

In less than three months, the Service Rifle Team soldier claimed 14 individual championship titles and contributed to six team championship trophy wins. Out of those 20 top finishes, Green, from Bogalusa, broke eight national records — six individual and two team.

Though Army Marksmanship Unit soldiers are known for their success, Green’s accomplishments exceed the “home of champions” moniker, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Shane Barnhart, a shooter/instructor on the Service Rifle Team and Ashley, Ohio, native.

“He shot amazing this summer — probably the best anyone has ever performed in the history of the USAMU Service Rifle Team … at least since I’ve have been here the last 18 years,” Barnhart said.

Green has been a winning member of the team since 2004. He has repeatedly won notable honors such as three Interservice Overall Champion titles, five Interservice Long-Range Champion titles and two National High-Power Champion titles. Even with all this success, Green’s competitive nature forces him to consistently find ways to improve upon his skills. This year, he said, his adjustments paid big dividends.

“I changed my mental game up a little bit this year, kind of approaching each and every shot with a clear plan of action,” he said. “And, it’s really paid off.”

This change involved taking notes on how he felt, what results he achieved and what techniques he used in various situations, Green explained. As he prepared for the summer series of competitions, he said, referred back to those notes and adjusted again, and then again.

“When I got off track, I went back and read my notes and really got back into it. I focused on the shot and the rifle, not the outcome,” he said. “I think that’s what really helped me out this year.”

Green said keeping a clear focus can be difficult, but it’s critical for competitive shooters looking for an edge.

“Anytime you step onto a rifle range, you are going to focus on something,” he said. “You are either going to worry about your gear, the weather, or this or that. I tried to take myself out of that completely. I didn’t worry about anything. I simply focused on breaking the best shots I could — each and every shot. That was my main focus.”

With advanced technology improving the gear and the rules changing to allow optics in some matches, finding that self-control has become the key to continued success in the high-power sport, Green said.

“We have the best equipment, best rifles, best ammunition, and best glass (optics),” he said. “We have all the equipment. So the shooter is the weak link.”

Coping with that reality and finding out what it takes to continuously improve is what the soldiers do at USAMU. It is also what serious high-power sportsmen need to do, Green said after competing in the 56th Annual Interservice Championships in Quantico, Va., where he claimed his fourth Interservice Overall Champion title. His winning score of 998-52X broke the 1994 record of 995-50X that was set by retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Don Heuman, who later became a coach for the USAMU Service Rifle Team.

When everyone has the same gear, the bottom line still comes down to the shooter and the shooter’s skills. And in the end, the best shooter is the one who hits the most targets, said Green, who just spent the summer competing in several matches against hundreds of civilians, veterans and other current service members across the Department of Defense.

Being a soldier definitely aided with the knowing-what-to-do and how-to-handle-pressure elements of competition, because through all the training, you learn things about yourself when you develop as a soldier, Green said. “It gives you a whole different perspective on the things you are doing,” he added. “It really helps narrow your intent and helps you focus on what matters.”