By Sheri Trusty, CMP Features Writer
Award-winning shooter Bremen Butler got her first glimpse of her successful future in the basement of her Fort Wayne, Indiana home. It was there that she learned that a girl has a place at the shooting range.
“How did I get interested in the sport? It’s one of my favorite stories to tell,” Bremen said. “My brother had a crush on a girl who was on a shooting team, so my dad, who is the best wingman, set up a shooting range in the basement.”
Seeing a girl handle a pistol expertly inspired Bremen to join a local marksmanship team. Today, 18-year-old Bremen has endless medals hanging at home. He won the 2021 Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Small Caliber Junior National Three Position Championship and the 2023 Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) Air Gun Nationals. In 2021, he won a bronze medal in Smallbore and Air Rifle U18 at the Junior Olympics.
“It’s hard to estimate how many medals he’s won,” said his father, Chris Butler. “Last count was about 120. He has won gold, silver and bronze medals, a dozen state championships and a handful of national championships.”
Bremen learned marksmanship from his father, and many people who invested in it further honed their skills. She trains with two-time Olympic shooter Jayme Shipley of iShoot Consulting, and competes with the Bellmont High School Shooting Club under Andrew Werling.
“My coach is definitely the salt of the earth. I have been able to take on the role of athlete coach on the team because of him,” said Bremen. “He is coaching me on how to train, which is my dream job.”
Bremen received a $5,000 CMP scholarship this year and will join the Georgia Southern University rifle team next fall.
“It was very exciting to receive the scholarship,” he said. “Georgia Southern University is a young team with a new coach and a fresh start. I’m very excited to get there and help build a new legacy.”
The marksmanship not only impacted the future of Bremen, but also changed the way it sees itself today.
“Growing up, I put my value on my grades and then my scores and skills. Now, I can have a bad day and that doesn’t define me,” Bremen said. “Just because I didn’t do well today, that doesn’t change who I am.”
Chris said he has seen his daughter stay true to herself as she grew up as a shooter. A turning point in Bremen’s character came on one of her worst days, when her performance during a competition didn’t live up to her own expectations. Bremen is famous for always leaving the field with a smile, and that day she, like many others, chose to smile at her failure.
“He stepped out of the line with a smile on his face and frustration in his eyes and said, ‘Dad, you know what makes a bad day a good one? It makes a good day so much better. Now, that’s the perspective,” Chris said.
For Bremen, that perspective stems from his refusal to define his value by a day’s performance.
“Sometimes, “smelly” is all that will come out of a competition, and it makes it so that when you don’t “stench”, feel good,” he said.
As an encouraging father at the shooting range, Chris had a huge impact on Bremen’s response to successful and not-so-successful competitions. She said she hears her voice gently guiding and admonishing her, even when he’s not there.
“I will hear his voice in my head when I am shooting,” he said. “I’ll argue with him when he’s not around me.”
Chris and Bremen have grown closer as they have traveled thousands of miles to competitions together. Before each event, Bremen removes the rings from his fingers, stacks them one by one on Chris’ little finger, and they pray together at the stove.
“It’s one of my favorite things,” Bremen said.
On May 19, Bremen appeared at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center in Port Clinton, Ohio, preparing for the Camp Perry Open, where he would compete in the 3PAR (prone, standing, and kneeling) and small-bore air rifle with an Anschutz 9015 ONE air rifle with a 3P conversion kit and an Anschutz 54.30 small bore rifle. She said she was looking forward to competing with the electronic targets on the shooting range and facing the constant windy conditions at Camp Perry, which add another element of difficulty to matches.
While there, he discussed the paradox of the marksmanship competition.
“This sport has to do with consistency, with always doing the same thing. All ranks are the same, so I tell new entrants not to stress over a new rank because everything is the same,” Bremen said. “At the same time, you will be different every time you shoot.”
Bremen then shares with them its overview of the competition.
“I tell them it’s okay not to always be the same. You can adapt,” she said. “There is always another party.”
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 www.TheCMP.org.