Brits Arrive to Compete in Pershing Trophy Match
Story based on report by Lars Dalseide for NRABlog
Fifteen members of the Great Britain Rifle Team descended upon the Viale Range at Camp Perry this week in preparation for the John J. Pershing Trophy Match. Sporting red team shirts and a touch of British swagger, they’re lead by by a man known as Jon Leech. A veteran of the sport, Leech is there to share his decades of experience to this new group of hopefuls. “They’re not juniors, though some have taken a while to mature,” he said with a laugh. “But they’re bringing with them a lot of experience.”
History of Pershing Trophy Match
The Pershing Trophy Match takes place every four years. Every time it is shot, the location alternates from the United States to Great Britain. When shot in Great Britain, it is known as the Field Marshal Earl Roberts Trophy Match. With ten shooters per team, competitors take to the line and fire 20 shots at 50 yards and 20 shots at 100. The first match, shot in 1931, was won by the Brits. Since then the Americans have dominated the event, winning 13 times overall compared to four times for the British.
Led by Leech, along with captain Neil Gibbons, the Brits have assembled a strong team this year. “This team was put together specifically for this match,” explained Leech. “This is my fourth time at Camp Perry. First in 1979 to shoot smallbore. I’ve come here just to coach this year. Pass on some knowledge to the folk who came over. We have 15 people in total — 3 officials and 12 shooters – that we’ll get that down to 10 shooters so we can beat America.”
Marksmanship Training in the Basement of Lloyds of London
A broker at the famed insurance house Lloyds of London, Leech brings a colorful background to the smallbore shooting world. A fencer at first, it was a fluky bit of chance — and a little of the Lloyd’s magic — that introduced him to the world of rifles.
“I was at Lloyds and noticed a guy sitting next to me with a collection of targets. I asked ‘Where did you do that?’ to which he replied ‘In the range underneath our building’. I didn’t even know there was such a range. I started shooting there in 1972 and kept at it.”
Spending his youth shooting in tournaments throughout Europe, he now finds himself behind the shooter rather than behind the trigger … at least when it comes to international competitions. And, as an official with the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF), his passport includes stamps from Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen, and Croatia. “We really do enjoy our shooting together,” commented Leech. “Traveling as a shooter, I’ve met some fabulous people which is a lot of what shooting is all about. This is Band of Brothers stuff.”
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