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Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit

Stephanie Cannon '06 June 7, 2013 4:39 PM

First photo: The Corps of Cadet Marksmanship Unit at the Scholastic Pistol Program Southwest Regional Championship. Pictured (back row from left) are Naomi Boyer ’16, Cole Dunson ’16, Bryan Bonnette ’16 and Jason Cusack ’16. Pictured (front row from left) are Zachary Williams ’16, Tyler Toppenberg ’15, Matt Hawes ’13, Jordan Walker ’13, Spencer Kitten ’15 and Trent Kirkpatrick ’14. 

Second photo: Kevin M. Jimmerson ’89 coaching Cadet Trent Kirkpatrick ’14 during the Scholastic Pistol Program Collegiate National Championship at Ft. Benning, Ga.

By Roberto M. Molar Candanosa '13 

In the summer of 2011, after returning from Army training summer camp, Cadet Matthew N. Hawes ’13 sought advice from the president of a local shooting club on how to start a marksmanship team within Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets. The president, Kevin M Jimmerson ’89, thought he would never see Hawes again after telling him how difficult it is to form a new shooting team from scratch. 

But Jimmerson didn’t know the tenacious Hawes. In December 2011, the new Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit was officially created with Hawes as commander and Jimmerson as coach. Three months later, the unit placed fourth in the Scholastic Pistol Program Collegiate National Championship at Fort Benning, Ga.

“We did this in basically three months and most of it doesn’t have to do with me, it has to do with the dedication, the work ethic, and the skill of the cadets in the team,” said Jimmerson, who coached the  team of cadets inexperienced in competitive shooting.

Their spirit and successful results got the CCMU the prestigious 2012-13 Most Outstanding Team award at the Corps of Cadets annual Athletics Banquet presented by the Office of the Commandant. 

Retired USMC Gunnery Sgt. Chad Parker, Corps of Cadets 2nd Regiment cadet training officer, knows the CCMU received the award because of its professionalism and achievements. Parker is also the CCMU’s Cadet Training Officer Advisor.

“Getting the award entails being exposed more, placing higher in competitions, and being invited to the Smith and Wesson Joint Service Academy Combat Championship,” he said.

CCMU cadets participate in action and steel pistol sports, three-gun competitions, and international trap and skeet. The main competition in which the CCMU participates is the Scholastic Pistol Program, which tests skill, speed and accuracy. Participants are timed as they shoot steel targets at a range of 8 to 35 yards. The average competitive shooter spends only about 2.5 seconds for each stage consisting of five to seven targets.

“No individual shot is that difficult, but when you have to make them all in order, and as quickly as you can, that’s when the wheel starts to come off,” Jimmerson said. “If you don’t focus on fundamentals, you are not going to do well.”

Initiated less than two years ago, the unit’s hard work has flourished into impressive results at major competitions with the support of the Corps of Cadets Association, Corps of Cadet Commandant Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez, Jr. ’79, and other sponsors. These results include a first-place finish in the rimfire and centerfire divisions as host of the SPP Southwest Regional Championship, and a second and third place in the rimfire and centerfire divisions in the SPP Collegiate National Championship at Fort Benning, Ga. 

In 2013 the CCMU became the only team not from a service academy to participate in the Smith & Wesson Joint Service Academy Combat Championship, in Springfield, Mass. Although the CCMU finished behind West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, they were honored to be invited again next year and are working hard to win it.

Being invited to the 2013 Smith & Wesson Joint Service Academy Combat Championship was not a coincidence. Event organizers are always impressed by CCMU cadets, who comport with great respect and discipline at all competitions. That is something the team always remembers when they set foot on a competition.

“We are here to do a lot of things and shooting is one just one of those,” Jimmerson said. “We are representing ourselves, the Corps, Texas A&M, and Texas, if we are out of the state.”

The CCMU also values sportsmanship and respect. “For there to be a winner, there has to be a lot of losers—and you’re not always going to be the winner,” Jimmerson said. 

He also hopes to have a positive impact in the lives of the cadets pursuing lifelong career goals in the military after college. “I hope that what I’m teaching my guys can translate into skills that may save somebody else’s life years from now,” he said.

The vigorous spirit of the unit is stronger than ever as they prepare for the 2013-14 year under the leadership of Jimmerson and newly elected commanding officer and team captain Tyler Toppenberg ’15.

“The marksmanship unit is not just another Corps athletics team,” Toppenberg said. “We are a unit that holds tight Corps values and a unit that is learning how to grow in shooting skills and professionalism.

“I am honored not only to be leading this team next year, but to say I was given the opportunity to shoot on the team and help it build. It is an honor to represent the Corps of Cadets, Texas A&M, and the state of Texas in this way.”

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