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North grad nation’s top Navy shooter
Funderburg credits training in JROTC
Navy 2
Chris Funderburg shoots during the National Rifle Championship, open to both military and civilian shooters. - photo by Submitted
A North Forsyth High graduate recently hit the spot, literally, during two national rifle shooting competitions.

Chris Funderburg earned the distinction of being named the Navy’s top shooter during the 48th Annual Interservice Rifle Championships, in which teams from each military branch compete against one another.

Shortly thereafter, he also placed 56th out of nearly 1,500 riflemen during the National Rifle Championship, open to both military and civilian shooters.

The national championship is considered “the Super Bowl of shooters,” according to its Web site.  

Funderburg said between the two contests he spent an entire month shooting.

“I left on July 18 for interservice, then went straight to nationals and I got back on Aug. 18,” said Funderburg, who is stationed in San Diego.  

But shooting for that many days wasn’t difficult. He’s had a lot of practice.

Funderburg said he became interested in shooting through the Forsyth County 4-H program, where he spent his middle school years firing BB guns.

When he got to high school, he moved up to air rifle. He spent all four years in North’s Marine Corps JROTC program, which he joined after learning about its shooting team.

“The problem with air rifle was they’re really expensive,” he said, noting that the rifle alone can cost $1,500. “But when I found out the ROTC had an air rifle shooting team, I knew I had to join. I could shoot with the school’s rifles and gear and not have to buy my own.”

Gunnery Sgt. Jack “Gunny” Snook, who leads the program, said he’s proud of his former student’s accomplishment, but wasn’t surprised by it.

“Chris spent his first couple of years [on the rifle team] learning,” he said. “But then his junior year, he become the No. 1 shooter.”

Snook also said Funderburg was team captain his last two years, and the first member to go to the JROTC National Rifle Championships at Fort Benning in west Georgia.

“Just to qualify for that, you have to shoot at least a 290 out of 300,” he said.

A 2007 graduate of North, Funderburg entered the Navy out of high school. He’s still serving his first enlistment, which will end in 2012, in the Navy’s Seabee construction battalion.

He said the shooting honors were a surprise for him.

“I went into [the first competition] not expecting anything,” he said. “I told my command straight up to not expect me to bring anything back.
Every time I had shot in that before, I was just in the middle of the pack.”

Largely because of his high marks, Funderburg said he’s been invited to the Navy Seals sniper school to teach trainees how to “read the wind.”

And while it might be possible, he doesn’t have any plans to become a Seal himself. He’s a Seabee through and through.

“I’m really just a big kid,” said the 21-year-old. “I love working with all the big machines and equipment. The bulldozers and tractor trailers are just cool. I love working in the dirt with big machines.”

He hasn’t decided if he’ll re-enlist in 2012 or return to Forsyth County, which he said is “always home” no matter where he goes.

Whenever he makes it back, he wants to continue his Seabee roots and work for a general contractor or landscaping company. But no matter what, he will continue shooting rifle.

“I just love it,” he said. “I’ll keep shooting for as long as I can.”