SAN ANTONIO -- In 2006, Capt. Chuck Burkardt was a cadet at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, when he drove by a group of guys shooting orange flying objects out of the sky. He was curious, he said, so he drove closer and asked about the activity. The guys put a box of ammunition in one of his hands and a gun in the other and told him to follow them.
“I was hooked when I pulled the trigger for the first time,” said Burkardt, commander, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Burkardt represented the “Big Red One” on the U.S Army team during the 54th annual Armed Forces Skeet Championship at the National Shooting Complex May 12 to 16 in San Antonio.
“It’s part of my resiliency, he said.” It gives me motivation and something to look forward to on the weekends.”
Burkardt usually makes his own ammo and visits the Fort Riley Skeet and Trap Range every weekend to practice, he said.
He officially joined the National Skeet Shooting Association last year and ranked nationally in the first registered competition in which he participated.
Not only did Burkardt compete as an individual in the San Antonio tournament, he was part of a five-man active-duty military team for the Army.
“It was a great opportunity to shoot alongside two U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit personnel and a former Olympian,” Burkardt said.
Burkardt’s individual success at the event included: shooting 576 out of a possible 600 targets in the individual event, which included gauges 12, 20, 28, .410, and double; placing first in the C-Class high overall with a score of 481 out of a possible 500; and being named the champion of the champions.
“This sport has developed into something I take very seriously,” he said.
Burkardt’s teammates were retired Staff Sgt. Joe Buffa, Capt. Mike Marano, Pfc. Dustan Taylor and Sgt. 1st Class Mark Weeks, both assigned to the USAMU.
They joined to shoot an impressive score of 2,415 out of a possible 2,500 targets to place first in the team event and become the five-man team champions.
The next closest team, made up of Marines, was 60 points behind the Army team, Burkardt said. The winning team members’ names were engraved on a plaque, and each team member received a silver coin.
“It was a great experience overall,” Burkardt said. “I got to meet new people and establish some good friendships.”