By Ashley Dugan, CMP Staff Writer
Brandon Evans, 19, of Poquoson, Va., is the recipient of the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) Three-Position Smallbore Distinguished Badge #1. His mark in the history books comes after years of persistent dedication and arrived, to him, by surprise.
“When Brad Donoho told me I had earned the badge, I was excited, but I didn’t even realize in the moment that it was #1,” he explained.
Distinguished Badges are the highest individual awards authorized by the U. S. Government for excellence in marksmanship competition. Badges, offered in a number of disciplines, are presented by the CMP after an individual receives at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points at qualifying matches. It’s a symbol of consistent skill on the range and is a merit looked upon with respect in the marksmanship world.
Donoho, CMP smallbore manager, has been keeping an eye on the Smallbore Distinguished program since its beginnings. He knew the race to #1 was tight and had a feeling 2023 was about to be the year someone would bring it home.
“I got the sense that a bunch of shooters were all trying to get Badge #1,” he said. “It started at the 2023 Camp Perry Open in May when we had a few shooters close to legging out, but at the last second, Olympian Mary Tucker made a surprise visit and won the EIC points in convincing fashion. Fast forward a few months later to the National Smallbore Matches, I knew someone was going to get Badge #1.”
“I was very excited to see it was someone like Brandon, a young and talented shooter,” Donoho went on. “I have watched him progress over the years, and he has developed into not only a great shooter but a good kid as well. I was very happy for him.”
The CMP introduced its Smallbore Rifle program in 2018 – featuring a lineup of three-position (3P) and prone events at the annual National Matches at Camp Perry. The CMP also holds smallbore matches at other events throughout the year and even allows smallbore match sanctioning for those looking to host their own competitions at their home clubs.
With the popularity of the Smallbore Rifle program, the CMP added two new Distinguished Badges in 2020: Three-Position Smallbore and Prone Smallbore. Many marksmen and women are close to earning a coveted badge, but, as of December 2023, Evans is the only athlete to achieve a CMP Distinguished Smallbore Badge in either discipline.
“I was working hard to get my smallbore badge, but I wasn’t as focused on getting #1, which made it easier, mentally,” he admitted. “Smallbore is my favorite discipline, so I spend a good portion of my practice focusing on it.”
Evans became involved in marksmanship at the Friday night junior program offered at his local club, the Lafayette Gun Club in Yorktown, Va. Since his beginnings, he has grown to compete in both air rifle and smallbore, using his Bleiker Challenger II smallbore rifle to stay unwavering on the firing line.
He claimed his first EIC leg points toward his badge at the 2021 Camp Perry Open after finding fifth place in the field of over 60 competitors. His final points came at the 2023 National Smallbore Matches at Camp Perry, where he received his badge at the awards ceremony – proudly leading the way for the legacy of the Distinguished Smallbore Badge program.
Some of his most memorable career accomplishments now include two Distinguished Badges (smallbore and junior air rifle), which he keeps in a special case on display at his house, along with a bronze medal for placing in his first Open final at the 2021 USA Shooting Winter Airgun match. Evans also helped guide his team to an overall win during the 2023 CMP Three-Position National Air Rifle Championship.
He practices five days a week and has competed in most CMP events locally in Virginia and on a national level. He also participates in USA Shooting matches when he can – all part of the sport that keeps him motivated.
“I enjoy the daily challenges because it keeps it interesting and makes me push myself,” he said.
As a freshman at The University of Alaska Fairbanks, he plans to continue his marksmanship career by going after his most sought-after goal – earning a NCAA Championship win.
About the Distinguished Badge Program:
To earn a Distinguished Badge, a competitor must earn 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) points or more in a qualifying competition. Individuals earn the 6, 8 or 10 “leg” points based on score and a percentage of match participation, with at least one “hard” leg, worth 8 or 10 points. Currently, the CMP administers Distinguished Badges for:
- Service Rifle
- Service Pistol
- .22 Rimfire Pistol
- Junior Air Rifle
- International Shooter
- Smallbore Rifle
- Distinguished Marksman Badge
- Distinguished Air Rifle and Air Pistol
- Distinguished Service Revolver Badge
For others interested in learning more about the Distinguished Badge Program or how to earn one (or several!), find all the info on the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/distinguishedbadges/.
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.