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October 17th, 2020

California Junior Lady Shooter Excels in High Power Game

California CA Grizzlies high power junior shooting team lauren sissy wood profile CMP
Lauren “Sissy” Wood (R) earned 3rd overall in July 2020 Talladega team event with teammate Dustin Carr.

Lauren “Sissy” Wood, 18, has been a member of the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team for the last five years. At the CMP Talladega High Power Regional Cup Matches in July 2020, she was a top performer. Sissy was High Woman shooter in the Cup Events and, with teammate Dustin Carr, she finished third overall in the 2-person Team match.

At previous big national matches, Sissy also earned honors. At the 2019 National Matches, Sissy was third overall in the High Civilian category and was the first overall junior in the Day 2 slow fire segment of the CMP Cup 1000 Aggregate. And she was second-place High Junior shooting with her CA Grizzlies team in the National Trophy Team match and National Trophy Infantry Team (Rattle Battle) event. That’s an impressive performance against very tough competition.

Question and Answers with Teen Shooter Lauren “Sissy” Wood

Q. How did you get into competitive shooting?

A. I originally started shooting .22s as an 8-year-old with my dad. Every month, he would take me to the local gun club’s junior day, and I would get to shoot. I did that until I was in about 7th grade. That’s when my dad also got me into High Power. Ever since then, I’ve been shooting High Power with the Grizzlies.

Q. What is one of your best memories from competitive shooting?

A. One of my favorite memories from shooting was my fourth year in Ohio — the 1000 CMP Cup Aggregate. I had shot my personal best at 600 two days in a row.

Q. What is your practice routine? How often, and what do you do?

A. I mainly practice after matches to help fix what I did wrong in that match; then practice at home.

Q. How do you prepare for a match on match day (mentally and physically)?

A. I don’t necessarily have a physical routine, but I do have a couple mental things that I do that are kind of quirky actually. I tell myself that all you need to do is focus on the next shot, and whatever you just shot is in the past. Focus on the next one. I just repeat that. And remember to breath.

Q. What’s the best shooting advice you’ve ever received?

A. “Think center, shoot center” from Jim O’Connell.


California Grizzlies team practicing with coach/mentor Jim O’Connell.

Q. What are your plans for the future (in and outside of shooting)? What goals do you hope to achieve?

A. My ultimate goal in shooting is to “leg-out” and get Distinguished. Once I achieve that, I’m not sure what’s next.

California CA Grizzlies high power junior shooting team lauren sissy wood profile CMP

About the California Grizzlies:
The California Grizzlies Rifle Team has been a part of the California shooting world for over two decades. The team consists of juniors between the ages of 13 and 20 from throughout the state of California. Many Grizzlies alumni have advanced to the Citadel, Air Force Academy, Army Marksmanship Unit, U.S. Rifle Team, and the Navy Academy. Each summer, the CA Grizzlies have traveled to Camp Perry, Ohio, to compete in the annual National Matches. Over the years, the Grizzlies have accrued countless junior team and individual wins in National Matches events. One of the team’s most notable accomplishments came in 2009, when the Grizzlies became the first junior team to win the century-old Rattle Battle. In fact, the CA Grizzlies were the first civilian team to win the match since 1930! To learn more about the California Grizzlies, visit TeamGrizzlies.org.

California Grizzlies shooting team

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September 15th, 2016

Dennis Does Perry — Two Weeks at the National Matches

Dennis Santiago First Time Camp Perry

This summer, our friend Dennis Santiago made his first-ever pilgrimage to Camp Perry, Ohio to compete in the National Matches. He recounts his experience in a fascinating, informative, and often humorous story on his Dennis Talks Guns Blog. When you have a few moments to spare, you should definitely read Santiago’s account of his First Time at Camp Perry. This is much, much more than a match report. Dennis gives insights into the human side of the experience — and the little things that make Camp Perry so special. CLICK HERE to Read Full Camp Perry Story.

Dennis competed in a number of events during his two-week stay. Shooting “classic” service rifle and his new scoped, “modern AR” service rifle Dennis competed solo (in Presidents 100 and NTI matches among others) and also as a member of the California Adult Team in the 4-man NTT match.

Santiago’s First Time at Camp Perry report is a “must-read” for anyone contemplating a Camp Perry visit. Here are some highlights — but honestly folks, do read the entire story — it’s well worth it.

First Time at Camp Perry, by Dennis Santiago

Perry Ain’t Like Home

Iron Sights and “Perry-Vision”
This range is kicking me hard. I tell people about how hard I was pushing my eye into my aperture. They smile that “welcome to Camp Perry” smile again. They ask what sights I’m shooting on my A2 and I tell them I’ve got an 0.050″ front and 0.038″ rear to maximize depth of field. They smile more broadly and tell me my problem is that I’m from the Western provinces where the sun is bright and the ground is devoid of flora. Lots of light. It’s green here and we have clouds I’m told. Not nearly the same ambient lighting. You have the wrong sights my son. Where the green grass grows you want a big fat 0.072″ front the size of an aircraft carrier deck and a huge 0.046″ hole in the morning and maybe close it down to an 0.042″ rear aperture later if the sun comes out. But that desert glare sight system of yours will lose you about 5-8 points in these parts. Well there you go. Learn something every day.

Baptism at Camp Perry

One’s first visit to Camp Perry is a series of baptismal rites. I shall now enumerate them…

Walk the Base. Do not drive around. Get used to walking. Walk from your hut to everything. Walk to the administration buildings. Walk to the ranges. Walk to commercial row. Walk to the CMP North Store. Walk to the CMP or Army trailer to have the triggers of your rifles(s) weighed. Walk. This is your primary mode of transportation while on base for the next couple of weeks.

Go Shopping. It’s called Commercial Row. It is the best shopping mall for competitive shooters ever. The sale prices here are Black Friday quality. You stock up on supplies. You can buy elusive powders in quantity with the same lot number. Same with bullets and primers. Everything you need to keep making your pet loads. Oddly, not cases. This is a service rifle tournament. Pretty much everyone is using LC or WCC cases. I stocked up. Then I began politely watching my expected cubic feet and gross weight capacity for the drive home as other people asked if I could take stuff back for them instead of shipping their loot.

Learn about the Perils of Perry. One, evacuate the range. It rains at Camp Perry. Sometimes that rain comes with lightning. When that happens range controls issues an evacuation order. Depending on where you are and how much time you have, you either grab your stuff and make for a sheltered structure or leave your stuff under whatever rain cover you have and leave it there until the storm cell passes. This happened on squadded practice day. There was no squadded practice. There was learning to make a better rain cover for the next two weeks because it’d probably happened again. I was particularly proud of my final design which involved a very large tarp and many bungee cords. Modern art to be sure. I received many compliments.

Peril Two — Cease fire, boat in the impact area. One has not truly been to Camp Perry until your shooting string is put on hold while range control sends someone out to tell an errant yacht or jet ski that it’s not a good idea to go into that area with all the buoys with the signs on them that say, Danger. Live Fire. Keep Out.

Shooting Gear

I brought two rifles with me to Camp Perry. The first was my iron sights-configured AR-15. Being my very first trip to the Nationals, I wanted to check off a bucket list item to shoot irons at a National Match. The gun has a Geiselle trigger and an upper I assembled from White Oak Armament parts. The barrel is a Krieger that had 3,800 rounds arriving at Perry. The sights are pinned 1/4×1/4s. I run Sierra 77gr SMKs short line and 80gr SMKs seated .015″ off the lands Long Line with it.

Dennis Santiago First Time Camp Perry

The other rifle I brought was for NRA week. It’s a 2016 Rule Service Rifle, Optic. It has a collapsible UBR stock and a Geiselle Mk VII quad rail. The barrel is an older DPMS .223 that was cryo-treated back in the day. Round count on arrival at Nationals was around 1,800. Same ammunition combination [as the iron sights rifle]. The chamber on this barrel has a shorter throat so I brought a Lee Hand Press with an RCBS competition seater die to set the 80gr SMKs back to proper jump for NRA week. The sighting system for this gun was one of the very new Nightforce 4.5X Competition SR’s with the CMP R223 reticle. Parallax is set to 200 yards. It’s mounted using Nightforce’s superbly engineered AR-15 service rifle Unimount.

Members of the State of California Teams at Camp Perry. Dennis is front row left.
Dennis Santiago First Time Camp Perry

Coaching — When It All Comes Together, at Last

I coached one of the California teams in the NTIT Rattle Battle match. This was the day I finally began to be comfortable at Camp Perry. Walking up and down the field, first as a verifier and then as a coach, I felt back in the game. At team matches you get to confer with your teammates comparing wind calls and observing the effects of their calls as the shooting members of their squads send rounds downrange. You watch the traces of bullets arcing in the air going left or right of the bull’s center depending whether or not the call was right. This process was cathartic. I began to remember that I really can read a range once I get the hang of it.

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June 30th, 2016

California Grizzlies Get Ready for Camp Perry

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell
This 3rd-year junior shooter uses a “hand me down” shooting coat that has earned many honors.

Report by Johnny Fisher
The California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team recently completed its annual summer training session. Some 22 talented California junior shooters prepared for next month’s National Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. Affectionately called “Camp O’Connell”, this training program offers up to nine straight days of instruction, practice and full-course shooting with veteran coach Jim O’Connell. To learn more about the California Grizzlies Rifle Team visit: www.teamgrizzlies.org.

Coach Jim O’Connell moves to New firing yardage with his young shooters.
California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

This year’s team captain is Forrest Greenwood, shooting in his sixth and final year as a junior with the Grizzlies. A superb shooter, Forrest will be joining the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit this fall. When asked about the 2016 California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team’s prospects at the National Championships, Forrest commented:

“I feel like we have a really strong team going back this year for all of the junior matches. Our first-year juniors have been very open to trying new and different things and learning correctly. They’re very good at listening to our coaches and our more experienced junior shooters. Our experienced shooters are performing very well too. We have some good depth this year — good pairings of comparable experience for the 6-man teams through the 2-man team matches. The California Grizzlies are all about teamwork. We go back to Nationals to keep our heads in the game and shoot our averages. Personal bests are great — but so is a good team, shooting their averages.”

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

Help Support the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team
Right now the Grizzlies Grizzlies are seeking donations to support their effort to attend the 2016 National Matches at Camp Perry. You can make a secure PayPal donation through the Grizzlies’ website, www.TeamGrizzlies.com.

California Grizzlies junior Team

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August 3rd, 2013

CA Grizzlies Junior Team Takes High Civilian and High Jr. Titles in Infantry Trophy Match at Camp Perry

Here’s a feel-good story about dedicated, hard-working young people from California. The California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team shot great in the Infantry Trophy competition at the NRA National Championships, winning not only the High Junior Title, but the Civilian Title as well. In fact the young Grizzlies squad beat ALL the adult teams except the powerhouse U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Team coached by Emil Praslick III.

California Grizzlies Junior Team Camp Perry

Dennis Santiago reports that: “The kids from California have once again proven that the adversity of onerous laws cannot keep skill and talent from prevailing on the field of sporting competition. They placed second overall behind Emil Praslick’s USAMU team.” This means the Grizzlies will receive both the High Civilian Team and High Junior Team awards for this year’s Infantry Trophy competition at Camp Perry. Way to go Grizzlies!

California Grizzlies Junior Team Camp Perry
File Photo of the 2012 Grizzlies Team. Some members of the 2013 team may not be shown.

The California Junior High Power Team currently consists of 20 juniors who are from different parts of California. The team is open to NRA High Power classified California youth between the ages of 13 and 20. The California team has the privilege of competing in the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, every August.

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August 5th, 2012

Two Pairs of Shooters Set Records at Camp Perry

Congratulations to the winning Rifle National Trophy Junior Team, Sagen Maddalena and Forrest Greenwood. Competing as Team California Grizzlies Berger, Sagen (left, below) and Forrest (right) set a new National Record of 968-21X in the two-person match held last week. Sagen also led all competitors, racking up the top individual score of 488-15X. The winning team receives the Freedom’s Fire Trophy. Team Coach was Robert Taylor II and Team Captain was Mike Barranco. Notably, two other California Grizzlies shooters, Lane Ichcord and Wayne Morgan, finished Third Overall with a 964-24X. This proves there are still some great young shooters coming from California, despite the many restrictive laws in the Golden State. CLICK HERE for complete Match results.

California Grizzlies Berger

USAMU Shooters Set New Doubles Team National Record
Not to be outdone by the young Californians, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s SSG Tyrel Cooper and CPL Matthew Rawlings set a new National Match Record of 593-21X last Wednesday in the Hearst Doubles Team Match. Congratulations Ty and Matt!!

Tyrel Cooper Matthew Rawlings

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