Written by Shelly Poe
Bruce Meredith, one of the most talented riflemen in WVU history, was born in Wheeling and grew up in Boggs Run, a coal mine hollow in what is now a part of Benwood. He hitchhiked in uniform every day to high school at Linsly Military Institute, which he attended on an athletic/work scholarship.
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He played football, basketball and served as captain of the track team; marksmanship was a mandatory class at Linsly and Meredith became their most successful student. Upon graduation in 1955, he walked several miles to work daily to the Wheeling Steel Mill for a year to save money for WVU, where he was determined to shoot with the rifle team, although that squad had no financial aid at that time.
Meredith lettered at WVU in 1958-61. Through the course of his career, the WVU rifle team finished with a 42-16 record. As team captain, he led WVU to a record of 25-3 and their first collegiate national team title. He won the national individual smallbore championship with a record score. He was WVU’s initial first team rifle All-American in 1960 and repeated the honor in 1961. He was named Amateur Athlete of the Year by the W.Va. Sports Writers Association.
He served as Cadet Commander of the Army ROTC and graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He went on to serve in the active Army for eight years and the reserve for 22 years, retiring as a full Colonel on July 4, 1991. He graduated from the Airborne and Ranger Schools, the Air Defense Artillery Advanced Course, the Command & General Staff College, the Air War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
He competed in target shooting with the ARADCOM team at Forts MacArthur, Carson and Niagara. He was a member of the team that won the 1,000 yard 1963 national championship at Camp Perry, firing the M-1 Garand rifle. He was senior officer of the Eighth Army (Korea) and U.S. Army Pacific (Hawaii) teams and was assigned to the All-Army team at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1965, being awarded the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and the President’s Hundred Tab. He holds the same honors with the .45 caliber pistol.
Upon assignment to the U.S. Army International Rifle Team, he won the 1967 National Smallbore Prone Individual title at Camp Perry with a national record of 6396 and fired the first ever-perfect score of 3200 with telescopic sights. That year, at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, his team won the gold by setting a new world record in the 50 meter prone and won a second team gold in three-position rifle. He has shot in six Pan American Games.
Meredith organized the first international team for the Army Reserve. His recruiting and training resulted in the formation of a strong men’s team, the first world competition level women’s team and a Running Target Team – a special Olympic event. He was a member of the USA 300 meter team at the 1970 World Championships in Phoenix, where he won a silver team medal. His last performance for the USA was at the 1986 World Championships in Sweden.
He helped form the U.S. Armbrust (German for crossbow) Association in 1979. Meredith has competed in eight World Crossbow Championships, winning a silver team medal. This qualified him for the USA Distinguished Crossbow award making him the only American to be distinguished in six shooting disciplines: service rifle, service pistol, modern crossbow, International Shooter and the National Rifle Association's distinguished prone and position rifle badges.
In 1987, Meredith began coaching and competing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He won the silver individual medal in the Pan American Games in Argentina in 1995.
Meredith, an active competitor for 53 years, qualified for the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. In Sydney, Meredith received volumes of publicity as the oldest competitor in the games at age 63. He competed in World Championships in Russia (1990), Italy (1994), Spain (1998) and Finland (2002), five times in the Championships of the Americas, winning bronze in Puerto Rico (1989) and Peru (1993) and five times at the Central American and Caribbean Games where he won another bronze.
He has set 164 USA national records. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Reserve International Rifle Roll of Honor in 2000 at Ft. Benning and serves on the Statutes and Eligibility Committee of the International Shooting Sport Federation. He owns Mountaineer Appraisal & Realty, doing business in Georgia and North Carolina.