Four-time Olympian and Sergeant First Class (SFC) Glenn Eller has served in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) for 10 years.
Although he grew up with an interest in the military, he never thought that he would join it, that is until he began shooting competitively.
“The shooting actually got me interested in the Army,” said SFC Eller, who won an Olympic gold medal in double trap at the 2008 Games. “I started when I was about eight years old and it just kind of progressed toward that.”
After graduating from high school, SFC Eller attended Auburn University, which is about 45 minutes from the USAMU base in Fort Benning, Ga. He began traveling to the base to train with the unit and was eventually recruited to join. “The shooting led me toward the Army and it’s been the greatest career choice I could have ever made,” he said.
Members of the USAMU are some of the top marksmanship shooters in the U.S. The unit has won 24 Olympic gold medals since it was established.
Being around elite competition on an everyday basis has helped make SFC Eller the competitor he is.
“We train day-in, day-out together,” he said. “That was one of the main reasons I joined the Army because we are able to put four of the best double trap shooters pretty much in the world in one place and for us to be able to train day-in, day-out together, we are able to push each other and come up with new training ideas that make us more effective.”
One such idea is a computer system developed by SFC Eller to help him and his teammates customize their training.
“In double trap you get three random pairs off of each station,” he said. “You might see what you are having trouble with three or four times in a day, so you can’t ever really train on everything you need to.”
SFC Eller built a computer system that allows him and his teammates to pick the pair they want to shoot. “Our system is a voice-release system,” he explained. “It runs through a program so when you are standing on the line, you mount the gun, you call pull and the computer sets the targets off. I built the computer that will set off the targets in a sequence that I can train the best with.”
Despite having no experience with writing code, SFC Eller built the system in about a month and has even built another one for his team.
His dedication to training and ability to handle the pressures of competitive shooting have allowed SFC Eller to sustain his elite level of performance.
However, he is more than a competitor for the USAMU. In addition to representing the unit at international shooting tournaments, SFC Eller is a shooter instructor, teaching marksmanship skills to soldiers both in the U.S. and overseas.
In 2012, following his appearance at the London Olympics, SFC Eller was deployed. “I was deployed to Afghanistan for three months to teach marksmanship skills to the Afghan National Army,” he said. “I went from being in the most amazing place you could ever be, the Olympic Village to one month later being in a hooch in Afghanistan.”
SFC Eller’s deployment was an enlightening experience. “It was eye opening,” he said. “It was awesome to be able to see both sides of that. I’m honored to have been able to go to Afghanistan and to serve my country as well as competing in the Olympics and serving my country that way.”
SFC Eller is appearing in his fifth Olympics in Rio as he competes in the double trap event.