An Inside Look At The Army Marksmanship Unit

_During the Vietnam War, the unit’s shooters traveled to Southeast Asia to set up sniper schools and sometimes fought on the front lines. Gunsmiths at the unit’s firearms shop used their expertise to help develop the M-21 sniper rifle during that time.

More recently, shooters have left the unit to serve overseas, including in Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea. In 2005, a group traveled to Iraq to train soldiers, although now they do most of the coaching before deployment.

Training 3,000 soldiers a year is the work that gives many of the unit’s members the most satisfaction, they say. What better skill can a deploying soldier learn, after all, than to be a good shot?

“You can see it on their faces, some of these guys,” said Sgt. First Class Tom Tamas, a rifle shooter who competed in two Olympics but did not qualify this year. “They’re not getting it. And we can pick that up, help them out.”_

Even though one of the AMU’s primary jobs is to bring home medals in international competition—and here’s to hoping the AMU does just that in Beijing—it is good to know that the Army has created a system where the skills of the country’s best shooters are harnessed and passed along to other soldiers going into harms way.

—John Snow