Equal Rights History

To CBS Sunday Morning and Ken Burns,
I am a long-time fan of CBS Sunday Morning and Ken Burns. Given his typical thoroughness with history, I was surprised at an oversight in his “Baseball is a Mirror of our Country” piece that aired on your show.

“The first real progress in civil rights since the Civil War took place… on a baseball diamond…” The oversight here is that marksmanship programs started just after the Civil War to better train up to the capabilities rifled small arms offered provided equal opportunities for competitors decades before this.

The U.S. Army began the Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) program in 1884, first creating Distinguished Rifleman and then Distinguished Pistol Shot gold badges to award competitors finishing in the top ten percent at EIC events. Buffalo Soldiers were equal participants and noteworthy competitors.

Buffalo Soldier marksmanship badges

The first shooter to become Double Distinguished, earning both badges, was Cpt. Horace Wayman Bivins, earning the distinction in 1903. A member of the 10th Cavalry Regiment and decorated for valor for his actions at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, accounts of his history “reads like fiction from the imagination of a pulp magazine writer” as one newspaper described him. The Army Reserve Postal Match has an event named in his honor.

CPT Horace Bivins

The EIC program was managed by the U.S. Army Department of Civilian Marksmanship and then the Civilian Marksmanship Program and has been an open competition for military and civilian shooters. It is the only sport mandated by federal law, per Public Law Title 36, U.S. Code § 40727.

This is history worthy of your attention. I’ve sent articles on the history of Captain Horace Wayman Bivins and the Army’s marksmanship Equal Opportunities.





John M. Buol Jr.
USARCMP Public Affairs/Postal Match Program

2 comments on “Equal Rights History

  1. TOBIAS BENTON says:

    Sgt Buol, I am just now finding this site of Army Reserve Marksmanship and your June 30 article was the first piece I had to chance to read, it was very enjoyable not only to learn about these marksman, but because like me they were POC who were also accomplished marksman. I shot Service Rifle on the All Reserve Team from 1980-1987 under OIC CW4 Al Coots, prior to that I had shot for the All Army Team from 1975-1979. While on the All Reserve Team I had the chance to shoot with some outstanding individuals like Tommy Pool, Al Ewing, Boyd Goldsby, Ray Carter, and a host of others. Thank you, and now that I am aware of this site, I will be a devoted subscriber. Thanks again! Tobias Benton

  2. John Buol says:

    Thanks for reading and for sharing your history.

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