Josh Richmond fulfills responsibilities as an Army Olympian - WSMV News 4

Josh Richmond fulfills responsibilities as an Army Olympian

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The pressures of making your Olympic debut can at times be overwhelming for an athlete. Add in the weight of deploying to Afghanistan shortly before you are set to compete and that pressure seems incomprehensible.

But, for U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Sergeant First Class (SFC) and shotgun competitor Josh Richmond, it was something he volunteered for. 

“A lot of people looked at me and thought I was a little bit crazy when I made the decision to deploy,” SFC Richmond said. “I think it was around July when I actually qualified [for the 2012 Olympic team] and I knew that I was going to be sitting somewhat stagnant for quite a few months. I did have an opportunity to deploy so I rose my hand and volunteered.”

“I looked at it as a couple of different things,” he continued. “One, I could get myself out of my comfortable zone…I used it as just another way to build my confidence up in myself. I looked at it as something I felt obligated to do because I wear this uniform and it was my turn to support the mission over in Afghanistan. It was a pretty easy decision on my end.”

SFC Richmond returned home from deployment about six months before the London Olympics, where he competed in the men’s double trap event, finishing 16th.

As a USAMU member, one of SFC Richmond’s missions is to compete in and win shooting competitions. It is a goal he has fulfilled with over 20 national and international medals since 2005. 

SFC Richmond’s other responsibility with the USAMU is to promote the Army and shooting sports to youth as a shooting instructor and member of the USAMU’s demonstration team. 

“[It’s] somewhat of a circus act with a shotgun,” SFC Richmond said of his demonstrations. “It’s me and another soldier on the team, we get to go out for about a 30-minute long show and we introduce ourselves, we tell our Army story and we build that into a shotgun routine where we never put the gun to our shoulder.”

As part of his demonstrations SFC Richmond has learned some pretty unique shots. “We shoot behind the back, over the head, between the legs, we shoot certain fruits and vegetables the whole time while connecting with the audience,” he explained.

For SFC Richmond, it’s about showing young people what the Army is all about.

“I’m able to travel around the country and the world competing with a shotgun, but also wearing the Army uniform and being able to tell my Army story and explain to them the different training and opportunities that [the Army] has allowed me to do,” he said. “I just hope that you know we can gather a couple extra young men and women to look into that as maybe an option that would also accelerate their career.”

Although SFC Richmond is not likely to shoot between his legs during a competition, he believes working on the demonstration team helps him as a competitor as it allows him to take a step back from training and competition.

“It’s a good kind of breath of fresh air to travel to a different place, interact, have a little fun with the show because it is a lot of fun for us as shooters to perform,” he said. “We get a good feeling when we make people laugh and when they see that the Army does have the best marksmen in the world.”

SFC Richmond has had the distinct honor of representing the U.S. as a soldier and an Olympian. His experience as an Army Olympian has changed his life. 

“I was able to become much more mature,” he explained of his early years in the Army, where he said he grew up “overnight.” “I learned how to balance my time. I learned how to get the proper training that I needed to. I learned a lot about physical fitness and, more importantly, they allowed me to do what used to be a hobby as my career.”

Now set to compete in his second Olympics this summer, SFC Richmond hopes to use what he has learned from the Army to bring home an Olympic medal. 

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