David Lange, 54, of Glen Rock, NJ, is number one; in fact, he is number one three times.
A talented marksman, Lange has five distinguished badges: pistol (2001), .22 EIC pistol (2015), and rifle (2018), along with his new air pistol and service revolver badges which he claimed in 2022. Three of them ( air pistol, Service Revolver and .22 EIC) were Badge #1.
The Distinguished Badges are the highest individual award authorized by the US government for excellence in marksmanship competition. A program that has been around since the late 1800s, the scope of badge possibilities has grown from simply a rifle and pistol to a variety of other disciplines: each individual badge is marked with a specific number when claimed by its holder and is he held her in high esteem. especially the coveted #1 Badge.
“What I like about the aim is that it is very fair. It takes hard work and dedication,” Lange said. “The reward, at any level, is in achieving your own goals.”
During his career, Lange has been a member of several national championship teams and has numerous individual successes, including becoming the 2015 National Indoor Champion, National Revolver Champion, National Standard Pistol Champion, and National Individual and Civilian Champion of the National Matches National Trophy. He also earned spots in the President’s 100 National Matches in both pistol and rifle in 2021. In addition, he has set several individual national records and was a shooting member of a record-setting team.
His wife is Kathy Chatterton, a sponsored athlete, captain of the Les Baer Custom Pistol Team and Distinguished Pistol Shot with a High Master rating who also holds several national and international titles and records.
“It’s an unfair advantage,” Lange joked of the couple. “It was Kathy’s knowledge, wisdom, experience and 100 percent support that helped me achieve my goals. Kathy also introduced me to a network of national and international champions whose friendship and support have encouraged and inspired me.”
Lange grew up hunting with his family. When he realized that he had a knack for shooting, he joined a local club’s target shooting league and began racing a Ruger MK II. He went on to buy a Colt Gold Cup and shot his first game in April 1998.
“In my first year of shooting, I shot a lot,” he said. “I shot three, sometimes four, leagues during the week and at least one game on the weekends.”
During that first year, he earned an Expert rating and went to Camp Perry for the experience with the goal of returning to Camp Perry as a Master in 1999.
“Both years they suggested I hold back and stay in the lower class until after Camp Perry,” he explained. “I never held back, and I was proud to shoot the Masters in 1999. Even though I was shooting scores at the bottom of the top ranking, I think it made me a better shooter.”
“Shooting against better shooters made me work harder and improve faster,” he added.
As Lange began to learn more about competitive shooting, he realized that dry shooting helped improve his scores just as much as actual shooting. He combined each with the mental training learned from Lanny Bassham’s “Mental Management System”, and his scores went up to High Master Class and surpassed 2650 (his first time in May 2002 having reached 2600 less than a year before).
“Shooting as many regional and state championships as possible helped me feel more comfortable in the bigger games,” he said. “In the beginning, I was just shooting in the six or seven nearby states. Eventually, he was shooting Regionals from Florida to Maine and as far west as Phoenix. I shot in matches where I didn’t know anybody and nobody knew me. Shooting in a strange place away from home is a great way to gain match experience.”
From 2003 to 2006, he was a member of Team UltraDot before joining Springfield Armory in 2007. He also began revolver shooting in June 2006 and became the seventh person to receive the NRA Distinguished Revolver Award.
In 2009, he competed on the Mountain Competition Pistol Team with Aimpoint, Atlanta Arms and Ammo, and KKM Barrels as supporting sponsors. The following year, he joined his current team, the Zero Bullet Company Target Shooting Team, sponsored by Zero Bullet Company and Lapua.
“I’ve had the good fortune to shoot in teams with some of the best and most famous shooters in the country,” he said. “I am proud to be a member of the Zero Bullet Company team and owe much of my success to the bullets and ammunition from the sponsored companies.”
Lange is also vice president of the Riverdale Police Pistol Club and a shooting officer and trustee in the Association of NJ Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), the statewide rifle and pistol association of the NJ NRA.
“Some of these sponsors are not giant companies and spend much of their marketing budget supporting shooters through equipment, picnics, prizes and donations,” he explained. “I hope that all competitors support companies in the shooting industry that give something back to our sport.”
He continued: “Also remember that sponsored shooters are not professional shooters and their support is limited. The true reward is in the glory and achievement that comes from working hard and being part of a team. I encourage all shooters to participate in team matches and look for new sponsors. I believe that mutual support and participation will help strengthen this sport. The chance to be on a highly visible team is an incentive for new shooters to get better and gives them an extra target.”
Since its inception it has maintained the same high competition schedule. His location in New Jersey has allowed him to compete indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer within an hour of his home, sometimes two games in the same weekend, with others still available if he wanted to shoot more.
“My most intense training comes in the spring when I’m on the range six days a week, practicing for Match Pistol, until the Camp Perry games in July,” he said. “My main focus on the field is quick shooting, while at home I dry shoot and use mental training techniques like visualization and rehearsal.”
Even though pistol competition is his primary focus, Lange still participates in service rifle matches in the summer and trains impromptu at an indoor shooting range with a .22 top in the winter. Admittedly, earning the Distinguished Rifleman Badge was the hardest thing to accomplish. Lange also believes that the majority of elite shooters are those who have earned all three of the original Distinguished Badges, Service Rifle, Service Pistol, and International.
“I enjoy shooting service rifles with my wife and friends and helping them achieve their goals of becoming a Distinguished Service Rifle,” he said.
His advice to other athletes looking to get their own marksmanship goals?
- Focus your practice on just that one event.
- Dry fire!
- Seek help at any of the various clinics that can be found across the country, including the CMP Marksmanship 101 classes or the Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) at Camp Perry.
- If you don’t have leg points yet, take part in SAFS and Marksmanship 101 EIC matches for a chance to earn your first 4 points.
- He is allowed to shoot in five EIC matches plus the National Championship each year. Make sure you film all those matches every year (you have to participate to win it).
- Bring a friend with you. If everyone brought a friend, there would be twice as many legs in every game.
Next on Lange’s list is reaching a score of 2670. It’s an ambition he’s had for a long time, having come as close as 2666 on three different occasions. No matter where his career takes him, Lange will always be rooted in history, paving the way for his fellow shooters, one badge at a time.
“I have done these things far from alone,” he said. “Almost all of my friends are shooters, and this great sport is full of great people.”
About the Distinguished Award Program:
To earn a Distinguished Badge, a competitor must earn 30 Excellence in Competition (EIC) points or more in qualifying competition. Individuals earn the 4, 6, 8, or 10 “stage” points based on the score and a percentage of participation in the match, with at least one “hard” stage, worth 8 or 10 points. Learn more about the Distinguished Badge Program and how to earn one (or many!) on the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/distinguishedbadges/.
The Civilian Aim Program is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of competitive marksmanship for United States citizens. To learn more about the CMP and its programs, log on to www.TheCMP.org.