There are different reasons people get awards. In most cases they do something to earn them.
Shooting at the Civilian Marksmanship Program competition last week at Camp Perry, Ohio, Langham received the National Individual senior's trophy.
The first qualification for winning the award is being at least 60 years old, which Langham turned this year. The second qualification is being the top shooter in a 50-shot competition who is over 60.
“I was the top senior. There were 154 people over 60. I was also 11th overall. I shot a pretty decent score, so I wasn't limping into the parking space,” said Langham, also a freelance photographer.
The competition is with an AR-15, shooting 5.56-caliber ammunition, at distances of 200, 300 and 600 yards. Langham punched a 484 with 11 bull's eyes.
“It was a pretty good score. It is a 500 point match and as far as we know no one has ever shot a 500,” Langham said.
His closest competition had a 482, but with 14 bull's-eyes.
The Civilian isn't the only senior's award Langham left Ohio with. He also won the senior's trophy in the Springfield Rifle Match shooting a 287 out of 300 with six Xs.
The Springfield match is conducted with antique .30-06 Springfield rifles, shooting open sights at 200 yards.
A total of 234 shot as seniors in that event. In the overall competition Langham was seventh.
This is Langham's 12th year to travel to Camp Perry as part of the Texas State Rifle Association team. Other than the two individual competitions, this was the first year he didn't shoot with the team. Instead, he helped coach the TSRA Silver team.
This isn't Langham's first trip to the awards ceremonies. Langham was part of the 2003 National Trophy championship team. He has won the Vintage Military Rifle competition, made the President's 100 and holds both Distinguished Rifleman and Distinguished Pistol Shot badges, awards that have been around since 1884.
Langham's regular practice facility is the 31 West Shooting Range, but travels to the Panola County Gun Club for long-distance shooting.
Langham got into competition shooting as an extension of hunting. He has stayed in it because of the friendships he has developed.
“I have always loved shooting and hunting. When I bumped into competitive shooting it was a perfect match. The people who shoot competitively in Texas are the best people in the world.”
As a semi-retiree, Langham missed competing on the Texas team that earned the prestigious Leatherneck Trophy as the top civilian team in the Infantry Trophy competition. A U.S. Army squad was first in the overall competition. Texas was second.
The Texas team included East Texans Justin Utley of Tyler, Clay Hefner of Pittsburg and Greg Foster of Pollok.
The Infantry Trophy competition is considered the extreme sport of the shoot. Hefner described it as being “based on an infantry assault on a fixed position.”
Unlike the National Trophy competition where the targets are traditional bull's-eyes and the shoot is day-long, the Infantry Trophy shoot is quick-fire at silhouettes.
Shooting is from distances of 600 and 500 yards in a prone position and at 300 yards sitting. The only assistance is a coach with binoculars calling out scores.
“The complete game is fired in less than 15 minutes,” Hefner said. “You shoot 30 rounds in 50 seconds at 600 yards with an AR-15. It is extremely high pressure. It is a rush. It is over in a flash. You do it right and you win.”
There is strategy to the game with the team being allotted 384 rounds of ammunition for competition, and all shooters must be on target at each distance. The score for hitting the target diminishes with each move forward.
“You have to train to hold your rifle without moving off target. That is the key. You talk to most shooters and they will tell you what we do is impossible,” Hefner said.
Based on the Texans' results in the event and high finish in the National Trophy shoot, Hefner said he believes the Texas team could be among the best for years to come.
“The mistakes we made that cost us the bull's-eye shoot are easily explained by conditions and individual mistakes. Texas is going to be the team to beat. We are going to be the team everyone is aiming for,” he said.
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