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A year ago I read a CMP ad in a magazine and decided to check out your web site. I was impressed with the quality of the site and the information provided. I drove to Camp Perry to check the NM action first hand and was impressed with the "Opening Shot" ceremonies. While visiting the vendors booths I purchased a shooters jacket, glove, pad, and two M1's  from the CMP store. The last time I shot an M1 was 45 years ago at Cherry Point, NC where I was a coach and instructor on the rifle range. Thanks for the help and information you provided to reactivate my interest in the shooting sports. At 67 years young it's never to late!! 
M.M. Troy
Thanks for another great update!
R. K.
I enjoyed reading the Double Distinguised article.  Well written and inspirational.
Enjoy receiving and reading. Thanks for what you do!
Pete Hodges
Thank you so much for this newsletter. My cadets and I found it to contain tons of useful information. You guys at CMP are the greatest. Keep up the good work.
Chief Mack, Burbank NJROTC
Thank you for your wonderful Newsletter! As the parent of 2 Junior Shooters (they shoot high power, .22, air rifle, archery... essentially anything that will send a projectile through the air!) I really appreciate the coverage that you provide. You are so organized and provide information to keep the news, support programs and resources at my fingertips. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. Oh, please pass along my sincere appreciation to the wonderful group of Marines that hosted and taught the Marine Corps Junior High Power Clinic and also to the wonderful and dedicated Army Marksmen that hosted and taught the Small Arms Firing School. I had children in each and they both had a fabulous time! They looked forward to attending each day and the interaction and coaching exceeded our high expectations! They went above and beyond. Thank you! Sincerely,
Tami R.
Please keep up the good work. Thanks you for you information on CMP. I love to visit the Camp Perry store when possible so this news letter seems to keep me in touch with you all. Thanks again Paul Miller
Paul M.
Thank you... it was an awesome week and experience at Camp Perry for both my son and me.  We loved it and loved the CMP staff who were friendly and very helpful. :-)
I wanted to let you know that your news letter is outstanding.  A lot of really good info that I pass on to many people.  Thank you.
David F.
Thanks for the work you do. We enjoy the CMP Newsletter and updates. Sincerely, W. Chessman
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Thanks, Eric C.
Having been a member of the Junior NRA during the late '50's where I achieved the rating of Sharpshooter 6th Bar, I am honestly able to state that I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased to see that you're still actively pursuing today's youth to continue the interest of sport shooting (which I still love).  Thank you and warm regards.
Ted K., SCPO, USN Retired

Printable Version

Becoming Double Distinguished Shooter Number 81

By Steve Huff

If you are a service rifle or pistol shooter there is one shooting goal that seems to rise above all of the rest. That is the coveted title of “Double Distinguished.” When you first start out as a young rifle or pistol shooter, you probably didn’t even know it exists. With more experience and many matches under your belt you finally become aware of this lofty goal. It usually starts out by someone pointing out a Double Distinguished shooter. Most shooters speak of Double Distinguished shooters with awe in their voices. These shooters have been around service rifle or pistol competition enough to understand the rarity of such an accomplishment. A friend of mine introduced me to a Navy Double Distinguished shooter at Camp Perry in 1996. I remember thinking that it must be kind of cool to achieve such a feat, but at the time I didn’t fully appreciate the level of accomplishment involved in such a task.

Steve Huff shooting a match in Puerto-Rico.
As you continue to shoot you start to understand the difficulty of achieving such a goal. You wonder how long it will take to become a Distinguished shooter much less a Double Distinguished shooter. You may ask yourself if you will ever ‘go out’. You use every spare moment to practice. You dry fire. You snap in. You travel to endless matches and your scores inch their way up. Then you finally have that special day when you win your first ‘Leg points’. That day came for me in the spring of 1997 at Camp Lejeune, N.C. I won silver at the Rifle Leg Match that is held during their Regional Championship weekend. I felt as if I had climbed Mt. Everest. I had participated in competitive sports my whole life, football, baseball, and in college, lacrosse. I spent several years competing at the International level as a member of the United States Karate Team. I was fortunate to be successful in all of these ventures winning many trophies and championships. Somehow those accomplishments seem to pale in comparison to winning my first leg medal.

There is something about a ‘Leg Match’. It is among the purest of competitive environments. It is you against the rest of the shooters, all striving for the same goal. In most cases only a few shooters will make the cut. There is nowhere to hide. There are no teammates to blame if things go wrong. There is only you. It is that purity that always attracted me to this sport.

After winning my first Leg medal things seemed to speed up. A top 50 placing at Camp Perry in 1997 earned me a gold medal and 10 more points. During this time I focused on staying sharp through a regular practice regimen, shooting every week. I took the time to ‘snap in’ when I was not able to actually go out and shoot. I have seen many shooters look for magical short cuts to posting a high score. I have always been of the belief that it is good old fashion hard work that makes one a better shooter, not new gizmos or fancy shooting gear.

The next season, in May 1998, I won another silver medal at Camp Lejeune. Two months later at Quantico Va. on a very hot day (two people were taken off the line with heat exhaustion one of whom was carried in an ambulance to the hospital) I shot my next Leg match. I went into this match with a lot of confidence. In fact, I considered myself already Distinguished. I just had to shoot one more match to prove it to the world.

I started slowly with a very mediocre offhand score, a 90-0X. A strong sitting score of 100-4X brought me back into the hunt. I shot a 195-1X at the six, cleaning the first 10 shots, and enduring the last 10 shots. By then it was so hot and muggy it was hard to keep the front sight in focus. It was a brutal day on the firing line, but my perseverance had paid off. At the end of the day I had won 8 more points and a silver medal.

Six years after his journey began, Steve Huff finally receives his Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge.  Have already earned his Distinguished Riflemen’s Badge, this made him the 81st person to go Double Distinguished.  
That was it; I had the 30 points necessary to ‘Go out’. I was the 1,329th civilian shooter to go Distinguished with a service rifle. It was a good feeling to have finally made it. But in an odd way I was still unfulfilled. In fact, I looked back on winning that first ‘Leg medal’ with the utmost satisfaction. Upon reflection, that was all the more memorable because it was at that point that I realized I had what it took to go the distance. I continued to shoot service rifle competitions after I went Distinguished. I made the switch to the ubiquitous “black gun” at the end of 1998. My first score with the AR in an 800 aggregate match was a 781- 21X. Many of my shooting friends encouraged me to switch to a match gun. One in particular, Kent Reeve, told me I was wasting my time continuing with the service rifle, it was time for me to move on. I was tempted but I just could not put it down. I enjoyed the challenge. I particularly missed shooting my M1A, because it was more challenging to shoot it well.

In 1999, after the last match of the season at Quantico, my Dad and I went out to dinner at the well-known ‘Globe and Anchor’ restaurant just across from the base’s front gate. During our dinner, I overheard some guys at another table discussing pistol shooting. I figured they had just finished shooting the pistol match that was held at Quantico that weekend. My curiosity aroused, I went over and introduced myself to a gentleman at the head of the table. I explained briefly that I was a rifle shooter thinking about starting with pistol and asked if he had any advice for me. I asked about which pistol I should consider, the 9mm or the traditional .45, what loads to use, etc. He offered his modest advice and wished me luck. It was not until much later that I realized the mild-mannered man I had been talking to was none other than Steve Reiter, a multi-time National Bullseye Champion. Nothing like starting at the top for advice.

I finished the 1999 highpower season feeling very unmotivated. Something was missing. Over the winter I made the decision to start shooting pistol and pursue the elusive ‘Double D’. I discussed my goal with a Marine shooting friend during a match at my home range in Butner, North Carolina. Terry Steedman, a good friend, had already gone Distinguished with the pistol and was now shooting rifle. Terry listened to me as I explained how I wanted to take some time away from highpower rifle and focus on pistol. In his typical style, Terry encouraged me with some good-humored ribbing.

There was only one problem. Just because pistols are smaller, they are in no way less expensive! I was starting from scratch. I didn’t even have a pistol box to put my guns in. Little did I know I had nothing to worry about. At the last match of the season at Butner, I was standing in line to register for the match when Terry came up and set two boxes in front of me. One box was full of .45 ball ammo. The other was a pistol box, his pistol box, with his match pistols inside, a .45 hard ball gun, a scoped wad gun and a S&W Model 41 .22LR match pistol. Terry looked at me, smiled and said, “here is everything you need to go Distinguished with a pistol. Don’t bring it back until you are done!”

Terry had given me thousands of dollars worth of equipment with no questions asked. I was ready to go and chase my dream. 2000 was my first year shooting pistol. It was a year of learning. I made every mistake possible that first year. But I was always improving. It took me six or seven matches before I got all 270 bullets to count for score. It seemed like I was always saving rounds, or getting jams or clearing my gun before a line officer approved it (thus loosing all of my unfired rounds for score). You often hear people joke that it takes the first year just to learn where to put all of your gear. Well, it didn’t feel like a joke to me. Between getting used to the new equipment and trying to eliminate my mental mistakes, my first year on the pistol range was at best challenging and at worst very frustrating. I kept reminding myself I had to learn how to walk before I could run. Through it all I continued to improve.

Steve Huff competing in his first pistol leg match.
I practiced hard over the winter and in 2001, things started to come together for me. I won a Gold medal at my first match of the year so I was on my way with 10 points. Interestingly I felt very much the same about my first pistol points as I did my first rifle points. I had proved to myself that I could do this. With luck, I could pick up the remaining 20 points by year’s end. Needless to say I hit a dry spell. In fact, I came in ‘First Leather’ several times, but as they say “close but no cigar!” I ended the 2001 season with only the 10 points I had won back in my first match. I was frustrated; I knew that on several occasions I had given away several chances to Leg. But that is all part of it, and I knew the next year would be challenging. I had no idea how challenging.

After another off-season of practice, I felt very confident going into 2002. Early in the year I had two strong matches and went into the final rapid-fire string in a position to win. Both times, I beat myself by getting behind trying to shoot perfect shots and using up that precious 10 seconds. It ended with me spraying my final rounds to avoid a saved round.

Both his greatest inspiration and his biggest fan, Steve Huff takes a moment to pose for a photograph with his Father at the National Matches.
In June an unforeseen tragedy struck, my Dad suddenly passed away. He was not only my Father; he was my best friend and shooting buddy. He traveled with me to most of my matches and was my number one fan. He was my constant encouragement and support. He, more than anyone, understood what competitive shooting meant to me. He had accompanied me to Camp Perry the year before to share with me my first experience with pistol week. Only those sons who have lost their Dad can truly understand the devastating effect of a loss like this.

Camp Perry was very difficult; all I could seem to focus on was the memory of my Dad. I carried a picture of my Dad and me from the 2001 Nationals in my pistol box. I would look at it before every sting of fire. Honestly I didn’t even want to be there, but I knew my Dad would not want to be the reason I missed Perry so I pushed on.

The beginning of the week was extremely windy. I was happy to have gotten through the first two days without having shot a miss. Many shooters, better than I, could not boast that they had done that.

It all came together for me at the end of the week, I shot a 274-5X to win a silver medal in the NTI match. It was good enough to be in the top 55 shooters that day. I know my Dad was smiling down on me.

Since I had already shot three matches in 2002 (one of those being the Nationals) I could only shoot one more match that year. I passed up a couple of other leg matches waiting for the Regional Championships that would be held the last weekend in September at my home range in Butner.

It was a perfect day, bright and clear with blue skies. The Leg match was extremely competitive, with several shooters who were capable of winning the match.

After the dust settled, I was fortunate enough to have shot one more “X” than the next guy to take 1st place and the gold medal. It seemed fitting to earn my last points by such a slim margin. If football is a game of inches, competitive shooting is certainly a game of Xs. I didn’t shoot my best that day, but I stayed focused to the end, telling myself that every point mattered and not to give up. As they say, an inch is as good as a mile.

I could not have scripted a better end to my quest. Many of my rifle shooting friends attended and could share in my success. Terry Steedman, who had since earned his Distinguished Rifleman Badge and was himself now Double Distinguished was there to see me accomplish my goal.

When they announced the winner, it was Terry who first came up to me and shook my hand. As I grasped his hand, I felt him press a small metal object into my palm. It was a Double Distinguished pin that he had removed from his hat. I thought about my Dad, took the pin and silently put it on my hat. There was a round of applause, many slaps on the back, and several offers of congratulations. It was a grand moment, one I will always cherish.

On that day I was the 1,280th civilian to go Distinguished in pistol and only the 81st in history to ever go Double Distinguished. I feel fortunate to have earned my membership in such a small and exclusive club.

What have I learned from my six-year journey? I learned that even though I love to shoot competitively that is not what it is about. It is about the people. Shooters are the best group of people in the world, we are a family. It is about the kind of people that selflessly offer guns, ammo and support without asking anything in return. It is about the friends I look forward to seeing every year at Camp Perry. It is about the memories I have spending weekends with my Dad at matches. And it is about always having another goal to chase.

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