Ron Wigger
Ron Wigger

Head Coach

Alma Mater:
Eastern Kentucky, 1983


Three Black Knights Named NRA All-Americans

Seven Chosen CRCA Academic All-Americans


Rifle Heads To NCAAs With High Hopes

10th Consecutive Year of Competing


Rifle Team Clinches NCAA Berth

10th Straight For the Black Knights


Rifle Defeats Nebraska In GARC Regular-Season Finale

Win Clinches Third Place in the Conference


Rifle Team Wins Fourth-Straight Star Match

Matthews & Calvin Earn Medalist Honors

Since taking over the reins of Army's rifle program 11 years ago, Maj. Ron Wigger, a two-time National "Coach of the Year" selection, ranks among the winningest coaches in school history.

In 2005 he led the Black Knights to their first NCAA title and a nod from President George W. Bush in April 2006.

"To be able to make history here at the Academy has been very rewarding," said Wigger, who returned Army to national prominence in the new millennium en route to compiling an 84-37 individual mark for a winning percentage of .694.

Wigger started rewriting Army's record book soon after taking over the program. The Black Knights earned a team berth to the NCAA Championships in air rifle by his second year. Army qualified in both disciplines in 2004, then put West Point on the map the following year winning its first-ever NCAA title.

The Black Knights won by the closest margin in NCAA history, edging Jacksonville State by a single point for the crown, along with dethroning perennial powerhouse and six-time defending champion Alaska Fairbanks.

Not only was it Army's first national title in rifle history, but the first since pistol captured the NRA crown in 1991. It was also the first NCAA title by any Army varsity program since 1949 (fencing).

The Black Knights started off their 2004-05 "Cinderella" season winning eight straight matches that included a perfect 6-0 Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) mark en route to capturing their first regular-season title. Army was runner-up at the conference championships for the second straight year .

Honors continued to roll in for the team that etched its name into the history annals as a school-record five riflemen earned All-America accolades by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and Wigger repeated as the national and GARC "Coach of the Year". It was Wigger's third GARC coaching honor in Army's four-year association.

The 2005-06 campaign was capped with Army finishing among the top four at the NCAA's for the third straight year after capturing the bronze trophy.

Army's 9-2 season mark was its highest win total (broken the following year) since a 13-3 showing in 1998-99. Included in its season highlights was Army's first win over Navy since 1990, snapping the Mids' 12-match win streak. A second-place finish at the GARC Championships was followed by Army's third straight trip to the NCAA Championships.

The team concluded the season with a visit to the White House in April where Army (based on its 2005 title) was among a dozen NCAA championship teams that met with President George W. Bush during a special ceremony in the Rose Garden.

Five Black Knights were selected by the NRA for All-America honors, equaling the school mark set the previous year, en route to collecting seven certificates.

Wigger, who has never had a season below .500, finished runner-up at the NCAA Tournament twice in the last five years, along with winning the team's first GARC Championship in 2008. Army posted a 10-2 dual mark in 2007 and bettered that in 2008 in a 10-1 showing, its lone loss to national powerhouse Alaska Fairbanks. Five Black Knights were accorded All-America honors in 2007 and four earned certificates in 2008.

Prior to winning its first NCAA title in 2005, Wigger guided the Black Knights to a fourth-place finish at the 2004 championships after meeting the qualifying standards in both disciplines for the first time since 1987.

Wigger concluded his second year at the helm by leading Army's air rifle team to a berth at the 2002 NCAA Tournament and a fifth-place finish in that discipline after edging Navy by a point. It was the first time that the Black Knights, who were reinstated to the varsity ranks in 1997-98 following a three-year hiatus, qualified since 1992.

Since taking over the program in the fall of 2000, Wigger had a school record five earn All-America certificates - 2005, 2006 and 2007 - and four in 2008. Kelly Buck is the latest to join that exclusive list after picking up first-team smallbore accolades in 2011. She is the 12th Black Knight on Wigger-coached teams to earn All-America honors, and is just the second female in school history selected for first-team honors in smallbore.

One of the finest coaches in the history of the program, Wigger has developed seven first-team, seven second-team and five honorable mention All-Americans, who have combined for 37 certificates. He has led Army to an NCAA title (2005). along with winning the national smallbore championship and crowning an individual champion in 2008.

Kim Pienkowski was a first team All-America selection in air rifle Wigger's inaugural year, becoming the first Black Knight named to that unit since 1991. A three-time honoree under Wigger, she was an honorable mention selection in both disciplines her senior year.

Chris Abalo made history in 2005 as the first Army plebe selected an All-American in both guns and just the second Black Knight to accomplish that feat. He repeated the next three years, setting a school record with eight first team All-America certificates.

The most decorated shooter in school history, Abalo excelled both nationally and internationally. In 2008 he captured Army's first NCAA individual title (smallbore), set a national smallbore prone record and NCAA smallbore mark, and competed with the USA Team at the World Cup. Twice he was voted the NCAA Shooter of the Match and was a three-time GARC Shooter of the Year.

Stephen Scherer earned a pair of first team All-America certificates along with competing at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

Two-time team captain Paul Charbonneau, a four-year member of Wigger's first class, was a four-time All-American. David Amiot and Brian Kern joined Abalo and Scherer in garnering All-America certificates in 2008.

In another Army first, Abalo and Wesley Hess competed at the World Junior Shooting Championships in the spring of 2006, with Abalo setting the pace for Team USA in two of the three events in which he qualified.

Wigger has enjoyed an equally prosperous showing in the GARC where Army crowned seven individual champions and three shooter of the year awards in Abalo (2006-09), along with a pair of rookie of the year honors (Abalo 2005, Scherer 2008). In addition, Army has earned 65 All-GARC certificates.

Army turned in a third-place finish last year at the GARC Championships with a young team following back-to-back fifth-place finishes in 2009 and 2010.

Over the past 11 years, Wigger's teams have established school marks, shattering team and individual records that were on the books when he took over the program. All three team scores (air rifle, smallbore and aggregate), along with seven individual marks, were broken and reset his first three years. Abalo holds three of the six individual school marks, with Scherer and John Fiddes holding two with Buck breaking the smallbore mark last year.

Competing against the top rifle programs in the nation, Wigger has compiled a winning percentage of .694 (84-37) to rank third all-time on Army's all-time coaching list.

He was instrumental in Army joining the Great America Rifle Conference in 2001-02 after leading the Black Knights to a 7-1 mark the previous year. He guided Army to a fourth-place finish its inaugural year in the GARC, one of the top conferences in the country, and his efforts earned him "Coach of the Year" plaudits. His peers bestowed that honor upon him again in 2004 and 2005 after Wigger guided Army to second place during the 2004 regular season, while going undefeated in 2005.

Army has collected its share of GARC honors (65) in the 10 years it has been a member. After collecting seven the first two years, Army had eight in 2004, 15 in 2005, 10 in 2006, nine in 2007, 11 in 2008 and seven the last three years with 26 first-team certificates, 27 second- team and 15 honorable mentions.

Charbonneau became the first Black Knight crowned a GARC champion in 2003. Abalo, a five-time GARC champion, won a pair of titles in smallbore and aggregate, while Scherer captured the air rifle title in 2008 and was runner-up to Abalo in the aggregate. Abalo was a three-time "Shooter of the Year" and top rookie along with Scherer.

Wigger has carved out an impressive slate both as a coach and competitor at the national and international levels. Ranked among the nation's top shooters in smallbore prone, Wigger competed for one of two berths in that event at the 2004 Olympic Trials.

The Army mentor was awarded the International Distinguished Shooter Badge by USA Shooting in the summer of 2002 based on his gold medal performance in smallbore prone at the 1988 World Cup in Mexico City.

Runner-up at the USA ShootingNational Championships in 1987 and 1991, Wigger was a member of the All-Guard smallbore rifle team that captured the 1993 national team championship at Camp Perry, Ohio. He was also among the final six shooters competing for a spot on the 1992 Olympic Team.

Wigger placed first in his signature event in the Master Service (Military) category at the 2006 National Championships, and seventh among 256 shooters in the Open Division.

At the 2008 USA Shooting National Championships, he was runner-up in the Senior Men's Prone Rifle event and 37th overall.

He also holds the Distinguished Rifleman Marksmanship Badge.

As a collegian, Wigger was a member of Eastern Kentucky's nationally ranked rifle team that finished third at the 1983 NCAA Championships. Commissioned in the Infantry Branch following graduation in 1983, Wigger earned his master's degree in sport management at the U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne, Ala.

Wigger's sister, Deena, competed at the 1988 Olympic Games, finishing 10th in smallbore, while his father, Lones, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time qualifier. Lones, one of the inaugural members of the USA Shooting Hall of Fame, was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Wigger and his wife, the former Lorraine Bravo, reside at West Point with their daughters: Alicia, 20; Karina, 18; and Michelle, 13.

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