Marine Sgt. Antonio DiConza, 25, of the U.S. Marine Corps and Fredericksburg, VA, shot a perfect score at the most recent National Trophy Rifle Team Match competition, breaking a 31-year-old individual record.
DiConza hit the ten-point center ring on each of his 50 shots, scoring a perfect 500-15x and breaking the previous record of 499-28x, which was shot by SSG Donald Manning in 1985.
“It’s like winning the lotto, even though the lotto is luck and this takes a bit of skill,” he told the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which hosted the competition. “But it’s the same feeling. I can’t believe it.”
For those unfamiliar with the scoring rules, the National Trophy Rifle Team Match course consists of 50 shots broken down into four stages:
- Stage One: Competitors have 10 minutes to shoot 10 shots from 200 yards away in the standing position.
- Stage Two: Competitors have 60 seconds to shoot 10 shots from 200 yards away in the sitting or kneeling from standing position.
- Stage Three: Competitors have 70 seconds to shoot 10 shots from 300 yards away in the prone from standing position.
- Stage Four: Competitors have 20 minutes to shoot 20 shots from 600 yards away in the prone position.
After shooting a perfect score in the first three stages, DiConza nearly lost his focus during the final slow-fire, long-range stage.
“My nerves started getting to me. But I just stayed calm – and in those last two shots, I was like, ‘Is this going to make me or break me?’ So I shot one more shot, and the last shot, I was shaking,” he explained. “I told myself, ‘You know, I just shot 19 10’s and a few x’s – just shoot another 10. It’s not that hard. Relax.’”
DiConza was able to relax, and his last shot was a record breaking 10-point strike.
“I was really ecstatic. It was the proudest moment of my life,” he said. “Well, other than my little girl.”
After the match, DiConza was presented with the Pershing Trophy, the award given to the highest scoring competitor at the NTT Match.
Despite his stellar performance, DiConza’s team— USMC Altendorf—did not manage to win the competition. That award went to Army Reserve Anderson, which won the overall match by shooting a 2957-111x. This score was only one point under the decade-old Overall National Record.