Award-winning marksman Bremen Butler got a first glimpse into her successful future in the basement of her Fort Wayne, Indiana, home. It was there she learned a girl has a place on the range.
“How did I become interested in the sport? It’s one of my favorite stories to tell,” Bremen said. “My brother had a crush on a girl who was on a rifle team, so my dad, who is the best wingman, set up a pistol range in the basement.”
Watching a girl expertly handle a pistol inspired Bremen to join a local marksmanship team. Today, 18-year-old Bremen has a myriad of medals hanging at home. She won the 2021 Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Smallbore Junior National Three-Position Championship and the 2023 Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) Air Gun Nationals. In 2021, she won a bronze medal in Smallbore and Air Rifle U18 at the Junior Olympics.
“It’s hard to estimate how many medals she’s won,” said her father, Chris Butler. “Last count was about 120. She’s won gold, silver and bronze medals, a dozen or so state championships, and a handful of national championships.”
Bremen learned marksmanship from her dad, and her skills were further honed by many people who invested in her. She trains with two-time Olympian marksman Jayme Shipley of iShoot Consulting, and she competes with the Bellmont High School Shooting Club under the coaching of Andrew Werling.
“My coach is definitely the salt of the earth. I’ve been able to take on the role of athlete coach on the team thanks to him,” Bremen said. “He’s coaching me on how to coach, which is my dream job.”
Bremen was awarded a $5,000 CMP Scholarship this year, and she will join the Georgia Southern University rifle team next fall.
“It was very exciting to receive the scholarship,” she said. “Georgia Southern University is a young team with a new coach and a fresh start. I’m really excited about getting down there and helping build a new legacy.”
Marksmanship not only impacted Bremen’s future, but it also changed the way she views herself today.
“Growing up, I put my value in my grades and then in my scores and ability. Now, I can have a bad day, and it doesn’t define me,” Bremen said. “Just because I didn’t do well today, that doesn’t change who I am.”
Chris said he’s watched his daughter remain true to herself as she’s grown as a marksman. A defining moment in Bremen’s character came on one of her worst days, when her performance during a competition wasn’t up to her own expectations. Bremen has a reputation for always leaving the range with a smile, and that day, like many others, she chose to grin at her failure.
“She walked off the line with a smile on her face and frustration in her eyes and said, ‘Dad, you know what makes a bad day good? It makes a good day all that much better.’ Now, that’s perspective,” Chris said.
For Bremen, that perspective stems from her refusal to define her worth by one day’s performance.
“Sometimes, “stinking” is all that will come out of a competition, and it makes when you don’t “stink”, feel good,” she said.
As an encouraging father at the range, Chris had a big impact on Bremen’s response to successful and not-so-successful competitions. She said she hears his voice guiding and gently reprimanding her, even when he’s not there.
“I’ll hear his voice in my head when I’m shooting,” she said. “I’ll argue with him when he’s not anywhere near me.”
Chris and Bremen have grown close as they’ve traveled thousands of miles together to competitions. Prior to each event, Bremen slips the rings off her fingers, stacks them one by one on Chris’ pinky finger, and they pray together on the range.
“It’s one of my favorite things,” Bremen said.
On May 19, Bremen stood at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center in Port Clinton, Ohio, prepping for the Camp Perry Open where she would compete in 3PAR (prone, standing and kneeling) air rifle and smallbore with an Anschutz 9015 ONE air rifle with a 3P conversion kit and an Anschutz 54.30 smallbore rifle. She said she was looking forward to competing with the range’s electronic targets and facing the ever-windy conditions at Camp Perry, which add another element of difficulty to the matches.
While there, she talked about the paradox of marksmanship competition.
“This sport is all about consistency, about doing the same thing every time. Every range is the same, so I tell new competitors not to stress about a new range because everything is the same,” Bremen said. “At the same time, you’re going to be different every time you shoot.”
Then, Bremen shares with them her big-picture perspective on competition.
“I tell them it’s ok to not be the same every time. You can adjust,” she said. “There’s always another match.”
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.