It’s been said that we all have one special talent; what separates us is the ability to identify and hone it. But imagine having a talent that allows you to achieve individual glory and help defend the land that you love at the same time.
In that regard, it could be said that Staff Sergeant/Olympic shooter Joshua Richmond is living the dream.
“When I got close to graduating high school, a unit had actually sent me a letter from the commander — from the Army Marksmanship Unit — to my house, talking about the potential for me to enlist to this specialized unit,” the 27-year-old Pennsylvanian sharpshooter remembered. “That’s something that I sat down with the family, and we talked a lot about. We decided that it was the right path for me, so I enlisted.”
Richmond’s father secured Joshua’s first shotgun while he was still in his mother’s belly, winning a trapping competition as his pregnant wife looked on. Joshua was firing that shotgun by age 5, and began shooting competitively at age 11. A winner of many medals at various World Cup events and championships, Richmond is currently a member of that Marksmanship Unit that recruited him, stationed in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
“I’m very patriotic, and one thing I enjoy doing is helping and showcasing my skills on a large level, going to the Olympics as a soldier and as an Olympian,” he explained recently. “[I enjoy] being able to give back and train other soldiers, teaching them the lessons I’ve learned through shooting.”
Recently, his impressive skills have taken him on some unique missions. “I was on a deployment last fall to Afghanistan,” he said, “where I was instructing Afghan national soldiers on how to shoot rifles, and pistol marksmanship.”
As far as nerves are concerned, Richmond says London shouldn’t be a problem — because once you’ve been trained to excel on a battlefield, even the Olympics seem low-pressure. “Being able to still achieve the mission — or in this case, the goal, which would be the Olympics — when I’m outside my comfort zone is something I learned over there,” he explained. “It overall has made me a much stronger person, a better instructor and a better soldier.”