Twelve time NRA National Pistol Champion Gunny Zins is the undisputed greatest Bullseye shooter in the 106-year history of the sport.
Gunnery Sergeant Brian Zins was born 5 February 1969 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. Grew up in Canfield, Ohio where he graduated from Canfield High School in 1987. After graduating from high school he attended Youngstown State University for two semesters before entering the Delayed Entry Program to become a Marine Corps Military policeman. He departed for Marine Corps Recruit Training at Paris Island, South Carolina in April 1988. Upon graduation from Recruit Training in July 1988 Gunnery Sergeant Zins attended the Military Police School at Lakeland Air Force Base, San Antonio Texas.
While at the Military Police School Zins received the “Top Gun” Award for having the highest qualification score with the 1911 Service Pistol. Following Military Police School he received orders to his first duty station at MP Company, 1st Force Service Support Group (FSSG) Camp Pendleton California. After checking in to his unit he was immediately sent to the rifle range for re-qualification. While on the range his coach Cpl Matt Briggs took an interest in Zins’ shooting ability and asked him to compete in the Western Division Matches the following year. In March the following year Zins competed in the Western Division Matches and fell short of earning his first medal with the Pistol by only a few points. After the completion of the matches he was assigned to the 1stFSSG, H&S BN, S-3 as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor (PMI). He spent a year as a PMI before shooting his second Division Match. In 1990 Zins earned his first leg medal by placing in the Bronze category and earning a chance to compete at the Marine Corps Championship at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During the Marine Corps Championship Zins added another medal to count by taking silver with the pistol. Following the Marine Corps Championship Zins was invited to Quantico by the Marine Corps Pistol Team to spend the summer honing his skills as a member of the Marine Corps Pistol. As a summer shooter there were no major victories for Zins, but he did place in the gold medal bracket at the 1990 NRA National Pistol Championship National Trophy Individual match bringing his total leg points to 24.
In August 1990 Zins returned to 1stFSSG to resume his duties as a PMI. While in route to California, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Upon his arrival at camp Pendleton Zins found himself turning in one set of orders and receiving another set to take him to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. After only two and a half months in Saudi Arabia, Zins received orders to Weapons Training Battalion (WTBn) Quantico, Virginia as a permanent member of the Marine Corps Pistol Team. Not long after arriving at WTBn, the Marine Corps Shooting Teams were tasked with running a Mobile Training Team at Camp Lejeune. There he would assist in training thousands of Marines that were to be deployed to South West Asia.
In May of 1991 the Marine Shooting Teams began their summer program of shooting in local, regional, state and National Level competition. With only six points needed to reach the required thirty to earn the Distinguished Pistol Shot Shield, Zins was given only one opportunity prior to the National Matches. During the Arkansas State championship Zins shot the leg match where there was only one medal up for grabs. After the smoke cleared Zins came out on top, thus receiving his distinguished shield and becoming the first, Lance Corporal to become Pistol Distinguished.
While serving with the Pistol Team he was responsible for ordering and issuing ammo for training and matches. He was also assigned to the Division Match training details. During his time there Zins won the Inter-service Pistol Championship in 1993 and 1994. In 1992 Zins placed second overall at the NRA Nationals at Camp Perry, Ohio. He was promoted through the grade of Sergeant by the time he left for Iwakuni, Japan in August of 1994.
While stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan Zins worked as a Military Police Patrol Supervisor and Watch Commander. He also held the duty as the Hostage Rescue Team’s designated marksman. Zins continued to compete in the Competition-In-Arms-Program by shooting the Far Eastern Division Matches Okinawa Japan. After a second place finish in Okinawa in 1995 Zins went on to win the Lauchheimmer Trophy at the Marine Corps Championship. In 1996 Zins again competed in the Far eastern Division Matches where he won the Pistol Match. After the Marine Corps Championship Zins again, spent the summer at WTBn Quantico with the Marine Corps Pistol Team. This was the first year that GySgt Zins would go on to win the National Pistol Championship and be meritoriously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Selected for recruiting duty in 1997, Zins was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Sand Diego for formal schooling before being assigned to Recruiting Station Detroit Michigan. Zins spent three and a half years as a recruiter in the Detroit area. While recruiting in 1998 Zins took a week of leave to travel to Camp Perry Ohio to compete in the National Matches again. Not only did he win the NRA National Pistol Championship, but he also won the National Trophy Individual match with the Service Pistol. Also in 1998, while on recruiting duty, Zins received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for writing 14 contracts in a 3 month period and being named as the winner of the Summer Offensive for Recruiting Station Troy, Michigan. After completing a successful tour on Recruiting Duty Zins was again transferred back to WTBn and the Marine Corps Pistol Team.
After checking-in at WTBn in July 2001 Zins left the next day to go shoot in Canton and and once again at the Nationals in Camp Perry. After not shooting a gun for three years Zins had an impressive come back with a win at Canton with a score of 2672 out of a possible 2700. He went on to Camp Perry and to win his third National Title that same year. GySgt Zins continued to win the Nationals in 2002, 2003 and 2004. His sixth National Title tied the record for number of wins with Bill Blankenship and the late Harry Reeves and Joe Benner.
In September 2004 Zins was re-assigned within WTBn to the Marksmanship Program Management Section (MPMS) as a doctrine developer. During his time with MPMS, Zins helped in the development and evaluation of a new 4 Table Rifle Qualification Course that was late implemented Marine Corps wide replacing the former qualification course. In July 2005 Zins set a new record by becoming the only person to win 7 NRA National Pistol Championship Titles.
In February 2006 Zins was reassigned to the Pistol Team as the SNCOIC.
In May 2006 Zins set a National record in Center Fire 900 aggregate by shooting a score of 898-54x’s. Also the same weekend another record was set by Zins, the Center Fire Timed Fire with a score of 200-23x’s. Another record was tied, the .45 National Match Course record with a score 300-19x’s.
At Nationals in 2006 Zins Nearly took his 8th National Title. Zins won the .22 National Championship and the Center Fire National Championship finishing up second overall by a 2 point deficit.
Zins also took the Marine Corps McMillan trophy and the Military Police Corps Trophy. McMillan Trophy is awarded to the high shooting Marine in the combined aggregate of the Presidents 100 and the National Trophy Individual Matches. The Military Police Corps Trophy is awarded to the high individual shooter, military or civilian, during the National Trophy Team Match.
In September of 2006 Zins competed in the USA Shooting Fall Selection Match at Fort Benning, GA and placed 4th in Air Pistol and won the Free Pistol Match, placing him back on the US Shooting Team for the 2007 Season.
In February of 2007 Zins competed in and won the North Carolina Indoor State Championship in the process set one new Open National record and 5 Service Category records. In March of 2007 Zins competed in and won the 2007 Florida State Championship.
At the National Pistol Matches at Camp Perry in 2007 Zins, tied with another shooter going in to the last match, was able to pull out a victory in the .45 Match and win the overall title by 15 points, thus making him the only person with an unprecedented 8 NRA National Pistol Championship Titles. Also in the same year Zins finished 2nd in both the NTI and the Presidents Match. During the CMP team matches Zins earned another McMillan and Military Police Corps Trophy, setting a new National Matches Record Score for the Military Police Corps Trophy. After Nationals, Zins competed in and won Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and North Carolina State Championships.
Zins retired from the Marine Corps in May 2008. He took a job at the NRA as the National Manager, Pistol Programs, Competitive Shooting division. He competed in and won the 2008 NRA National Pistol Championships at Camp Perry, OH.
Zins left the NRA in Aug of 2009 to become an Independent Security Contractor, providing Maritime security around The Horn of Africa.
In 2010 Zins went on to win his tenth NRA National Pistol Championship at Camp Perry. Later that year he participated in the History Channels reality TV show “Top Shot.” The show aired from Feb 8th – April 26th 2011. Zins ultimately ended up placing 2nd in the show to Chris Reid.
2011 Zins was unable to compete in the NRA National Pistol Championships due to medical reasons. Rob Bianchin and Brian Zins were introduced. Brian ended up becoming the Ambassador for Cabot Guns.
In 2012 Brian put together a shooting team for Cabot Guns to compete at Camp Perry. Team Cabot placed third overall in their first trip to the NRA National Pistol Championship. Zins won his 11th NRA National Pistol Championship. Not bad considering this was the first time a Cabot Gun ever competed at Camp Perry. In the Fall of 2012 Zins returned to California to film the Tops Shot All-Stars season.
In 2013 shooting Cabot 1911 once again prevailed as the overall NRA National Pistol Champion and also claimed gold in the Cabot Guns National Center Fire Championship.
Gunnery Sergeant Zins’ personal military decorations include the (1) Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal (5) Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals and (6) Good Conduct Medals. (1) Meritorious Service Medal