At 15 years old, Benjamin Holliger shocked everyone by making the President’s 100 Top 20 Shootoff at the 2022 National Matches and emerging high junior in the match. Quiet and reserved, Holliger doesn’t talk much. He says he expected to make the 100, but not the top 20. He may have underestimated himself, but not the challenge: After all, many shooters compete for decades and never make the 100, much less the revered top 20!
Ben, son of accomplished service rifle competitor John Holliger, has been learning about guns since he was born. Ben says his dad has been teaching him about guns and safety before he could even walk, and he grew up going to matches with his dad. Though he certainly wasn’t shooting every year, he’s been present at the National Matches since age 2. His family owns White Oak Armament and has a store on Commercial Row. Ben got his first rifle at age four and fired his first smallbore match at age 7. At age 9, he shot highpower for the first time.
While Ben has had several wins over the years, including high sub-junior at the NRA National Matches in 2018 and 2019, he entered a new level in 2022. His 2022 Nationals run began with placing 18th in the P100 and taking the top junior title. Now over halfway to his Distinguished Rifleman’s badge, Ben earned a 10-point leg in the National Trophy Individual (NTI) match and placed third junior. He and his teammate placed third in the National Trophy Junior Team Match (NTJT);
Ben’s score put himself in fifth. His aggregate performance from the P100, NTI and NTJT earned him the Col. Bill Deneke Trophy, making him the top junior at the 2022 National Matches. He was also top junior and ninth civilian in the P100/NTI aggregate. To show just how far Ben has come over the past few years, he placed 485th in the 2021 P100. Now he’s consistently shooting NRA High Master scores and is ranked 12th in highpower in Illinois!
Ben's must-have gear? His contributions to the Illinois Hard Dogs junior team are delivered with a White Oak Arms rifle, Leupold scope, and shooting jacket, stool, data book and glove from Creedmoor Sports. He also trains with a dry-fire device from Friendsville Precision.
Ben attributes much of his success to his father and his father’s wealth of knowledge. He also cites lots of dry-fire practice, position work and discipline as key to his accomplishments. He encourages competitors to keep trying. “It takes time and practice to get a routine down,” he said. His favorite things about marksmanship are the people and opportunities it has given him. Looking forward, he plans to earn his Distinguished Rifleman’s badge.
What are his other interests? Outside of everything gunpowder, Ben loves everything diesel. He works at a local diesel shop, is building a few trucks, and collects and restores tractors … a Renaissance man in the making!