Today's feature was supplied by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Justin Utley, 34, of Mineola, TX, was one of many who gave notable record-setting performances at the 2019 Talladega 600 marksmanship event.
The Talladega 600 is an annual competition held by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) at the organization’s own Talladega Marksmanship Park. Known as “A Southern Classic,” matches fired at the Talladega 600 include a mix of rifle and pistol competitions for enthusiasts of all ages, disciplines and experience levels. Shotgun opportunities are also available outside of the competition schedule, with a Sporting Clays Field and 5-Stand Shoot in the park’s shotgun areas.
Utley, in only his second showing at the Talladega 600, began his talented run during the Congressional 30 event – earning perfect scores of 100 in the second and third stages for a total score of 299-18x for a Talladega 600 Match record. Utley incredibly surpassed his previous record score of 299-13x, which he had set back in 2017.
He also earned a new record score in the EIC Rifle Match with a new Talladega 600 record score of 497-25x – cleaning the sitting rapid, prone rapid and prone slow fire stages.
Likewise, pistol competitors showed their talent as PFC Jason Gregoire, 31, of Midland, GA, cleared the record previous score in the EIC Pistol event by nearly 10 points to mark his own record by firing a 285-11x. Gregoire went on to earn a record in the .22 Rimfire Pistol EIC event, breaking the previous one he had set himself in 2018, with a score of 291-12x. This was the second year Gregoire led both events.
Sgt Trevor Keith, 25, of the U.S. Marine Corps, gave a remarkable performance in the Pistol EIC Aggregate event by posting a record score of 997-20x. With a total of 1,000 points possible, Keith left little room for anyone to better his score in the future.
Dwayne Lewis, 54, of Greenville, SC, shattered the previous record held in the Military & Police Service Pistol Match Course with his score of 371-9x, as Jon Herrin, 48, of New Bern, NC, claimed the win in the As-Issued 1911 Pistol Match with a score of 371-4x.
In rifle team events, Utley joined forces with members of Elihu Root Gold, comprised of the highest scoring civilians from the National Trophy Rifle Team event fired at the National Matches in July. Team members James Fox, Thomas McGowan, Nick Till and Utley fired an aggregate score of 1979-86x for a new record score in their win.
Fox, who showed major success at the National Matches in Ohio as the winner of multiple events and accolades, including the Mountain Man Trophy as the overall competitor in the President’s, NTI and NTT events, earned an outstanding score of 499-24x in the Talladega team event, followed closely by Utley, who posted a score of 496-25x in the match.
Fox and Utley also teamed up in the Highpower Dixie Double event, winning overall with a score of 588-20x.
Nick Till, 45, went on to claim his own overall title in the M1A/M14 event for the second consecutive year, even etching his own record score of 288-5x into the books.
In CMP Games events, Utley carried over his skills to the Vintage Military Match, firing yet another record score of 295-8x – overtaking the previous record, set in 2015, by four points and receiving the overall win.
MAJ John Schwent, 52, of the Camp Valor team, narrowly slipped by Till in the Garand Match Course by only x-count to overtake the first place spot with a score of 285-7x to Till’s 285-3x. Thomas McGowan, 14, returned to show his vintage rifle abilities, earning the third place position with a comparable score to Till of 285-3x.
Team CMP member Ryan Vander Poppen, 47, claimed the win in the Springfield Match with a score of 286-5x, successfully marking consistent scores in the Garand, Vintage and Springfield rifle events to earn the 3-Gun Aggregate title with a combined score of 851-15x.
Second place 3-Gun Aggregate competitor, William Ellis, 54, of Langley, Eng., led the Modern Military event with a score of 294-10x – only two points away from the current record score, held by Nick Till.
James Fletcher, 68, of Whitney, TX, fired a score of 363-4x in the Carbine Match to take the top spot, while junior competitor Andrew Boyd, 15, of Senoia, GA, was the overall winner of the O-Class in the Rimfire Sporter rifle event, with a score of 545-6x. Fellow junior competitor Joshua Drexler, 18, of Rydel, GA, found a win of his own in the T-Class of the Rimfire Match, with a score of 594-34x, while Till came back to break his Tactical Class record he set at last year’s event by compiling a score of 587-30x.
Till joined CMP’s own SP4 Christopher Knott, 25, to reach a score of 391-15x to overtake the Manual Class in the Vintage Sniper Match. LtCol Andrew Hall and Carl Jones claimed the win in the Semi-Automatic Class, with a combined score of 372-9x.
Brent Books, 27, of Jacksonville, AL, was the overall competitor in the M16 Rifle Course that accompanies the rifle Small Arms Firing School – earning a score of 383-10x. Books earned his first Excellence-In-Competition points towards a Distinguished Badge along with his win.
For a complete list of results, visit https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&match=18838.
Photos of the event can be found on the CMP Zenfolio page for viewing and free download at https://cmp1.zenfolio.com/f543764055.
About Talladega Marksmanship Park:
The CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is a destination for firearm supporters and those intrigued by the sport, featuring CMP electronic targets and scoring monitors that can only be found at the 500-acre facility. The park is open to the public every week and regularly hosts rifle, pistol and shotgun events all year long. Off of the firing line, the Club House holds a fully-stocked Pro Shop that includes a collection of rifles, ammunition, marksmanship accessories and CMP memorabilia.
- - Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
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.