In Memory: Larry Pendergrass (1939-2023)

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is saddened to announce the passing of US Army Major Larry Pendergrass over the past three decades. Larry’s countless exploits as a marksmanship instructor, youth mentor, discerning shooting officer, and wise counselor enhanced shooting sports.

Larry was born in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. He went on to build an incredible legacy filled with many notable experiences in his personal life, a distinguished military career, and as a national and international shooting sports official. He attended Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University), earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and was commissioned as a 2North Dakota Lieutenant in Artillery in 1961. His career as an Army officer took him around the world and included a tour of Vietnam (1967-68), as well as postings in Germany, Okinawa, and Korea. He retired from active duty in 1982 after 20 years of service. His military honors included two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals, and four Army Commendation Medals.

South Panola HS poses with Larry and his “Larry the Range Officer” doll.

After retiring from the military, Larry moved to the Atlanta, Georgia area, where he became a JROTC instructor at nearby Creekside High School. There, he coached the Creekside High School rifle teams to five consecutive Georgia State High School Championships and was named Georgia High School Rifle Coach of the Year eight times. After retiring as a JROTC instructor, Larry became the rifle coordinator and state championship game director for the Georgia High School Association, a position he held for a decade. Georgia’s high school rifle program is the largest of its kind in the country.

In 1996, Larry was invited to join the shooting sport staff at the Atlanta Olympic Games. In the years that followed, Larry served as a match official and international judge at national and international championships that included several ISSF World Cups. Larry’s competition officiating included service as Chief Range Officer for the NCAA Rifle Championships from 2011 to 2019, as well as several junior national championships hosted by the CMP.

Larry, second from left, was the CRO for the NCAA Championships for many years. Photo courtesy of Newt Engle.

In 2003, when the CMP responded to a call from the nation’s JROTC Commandos to develop a new air rifle marksmanship training program, Larry was selected to be a member of the team of marksmanship experts who worked with the CMP to design the JROTC Marksmanship Instructor Course (JMIC) which is now used to train and certify all JROTC rifle marksmanship instructors.

CMP Smallbore manager Brad Donoho, who frequently worked with Larry, wrote him this tribute:

Larry will always be the best CRO this sport has ever known. The goat. Asking Larry to be the CRO in our contests was a way of ensuring that the match would be run “by the book” and I mean BY THE BOOK! Larry would meticulously read the game schedules and send them to us because we made a mistake. He would read the rule book before each contest and highlight important rules to remember. He even had cheat sheets for other range officers to use at the shooting range. Larry would always host a range officials meeting before the day’s meet and just remind the other ROs of his responsibilities. He taught us to never quote a rule by heart and to always show the rules to the competitor and let him see them for himself.

He greeted everyone around him with a smile. The impact Larry had on the CMP is immeasurable. We pride ourselves on hosting the best competitions in the country and being good stewards of shooting sports. We do this because Larry showed us how to do it. He was loved by all who were blessed to know him. He will be sorely missed.

The CMP extends its deepest condolences to Larry’s wife of 62 years, Pat, his family members and all who knew him as a treasured friend. View Larry’s full obituary at

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of marksmanship competition for United States citizens. To learn more about the CMP and its programs, log on to