For the record, I wouldn't wink tiddlys against the Army Marksmanship Unit's Sherri Gallagher. The outcome wouldn't be hard to predict. She's accustomed to competing. And winning.
She's been shooting since she was three, competing -and winning - at shooting competitions all her life and is one of those people who make you believe in bloodlines. When it comes to precision marksmanship, she's among the very best in the world. In fact, the 26-year old Gallagher holds 21 national rifle shooting shooting records.
Both parents are title-holding, world-class shooters, and they've taught Sherri well. But she's won a new title that neither parent can claim: Soldier of the Year, United States Army.
On Monday at the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting in Washington, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, announced Gallagher as 2010 Soldier of the Year in the Best Warrior Competition.
Sgt. Sherri Gallagher finds herself the center of attention after being announced as the 2010 Soldier of the Year. U.S. Army photo.
"This is such an honor - I don't think it has sunk in yet," Gallagher told USAMU PAO Michael Molinaro only moments after the announcement here Monday. "Any one of us could have won the competition. I learned so much from everybody out here and loved every minute of this experience."
And winning this year's competition involved more than the long-range shooting skills at which Gallagher excels. For six days in October, Gallagher competed against twenty-three other select noncommissioned soldiers in competition that included hand-to-hand combat, urban orienteering, detainee operations, casualty evaluation, weapons familiarization and night firing.
USAMU member and 2010 Soldier of the Year, Sgt. Sherri Gallagher. U.S. Army Photo
For Gallagher, the win was the culmination of a long summer of preparation. To anyone who knows her, it's just another indication of just how dedicated and focused she can be when it comes to achieving her goals.
During an interview on CNN yesterday, Gallagher was asked what was the toughest part of the competition. Not surprisingly, her answer pointed out how a champion thinks. "The training," she said without hesitation, "after all the preparation, the competition was awesome, because I was prepared for it."
"The reason I was successful is the training my sponsor, Sgt. 1st Class David Steinbach, developed for me," said Gallagher, "He pushed me so hard that I was ready for everything during the competition. Nothing came as a shock and my confidence was
really high. I wish that I could share this with him because it truly was a team effort."
Steinbach says preparing Gallagher wasn't all that tough. He describes her as a soldier that soaks up training like a sponge. "She's pretty easy to train. For every bit you put into it, she will give you that much back and more," Steinbach said. "I tell people that
training her was as easy as using a claymore mine; just pull a trigger and she'll do all of the work."
It's been a summer of accomplishments for Gallagher. Earlier, she took the top slot in the NRA High Power Rifle Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. And she put on what a record-setting performance, shooting 2396-161x score that shattered the old 2389-138x record. She won 7 of the 12 individual matches outright, and still won all the matches where she dropped a total of only four points.
She also won the "Band of Brothers" match (metallic sight rifles at 1,000 yards) in the thirteenth shot of a sudden death shoot-off.
She's the second woman to win the title at Camp Perry. The first? Her mother, Nancy Tompkins in 1998. Like I said, blood lines.
So what's next for Gallagher? "My goal," she says, "is to make the Olympic team."
OK, so long-range shooting isn't yet an Olympic sport. Don't bet against it- or Sherri Gallagher.
Thanks to Michael Molinaro of the Army Marksmanship Unit, Forest Berkshire of the U.S. Army Accessions Command for photos and and Bill Gravatt of Sinclair International for tipping us to the story.