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.
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.
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.
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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Tech Milestone — Norm Crawford won the 2016 Wimbledon Cup at Camp Perry using a carbon-fiber composite barrel. That’s a first for composite barrel technology.
With a score of 200-16X, Norman Crawford won the Wimbledon Cup Match during the 2016 National Long Range Rifle Championships using a 32″ Proof Research carbon-fiber composite barrel chambered in .284 Shehane. The Wimbledon Cup Match, a prestigious 1,000-yard shooting competition, dates back to 1875. The current course of fire consists of 20 timed shots, fired from prone. Crawford’s win represents the first time in the Cup’s 141-year history that it has been won with anything other than an all-steel barrel. The Proof Research barrel features a steel core with an external multi-axis carbon wrap.
Crawford’s Wimbledon Cup win really is an important technological milestone. Crawford’s performance may encourage other competitors to consider steel/carbon composite barrels for a variety of shooting disciplines. Without question, composite technology barrels offer significant weight-savings over conventional all-steel barrels. And Crawford proved that a composite barrel can deliver winning accuracy, at least in a sling/prone discipline.
“I don’t know of anyone else in this sport using a carbon fiber [composite] barrel,” said Crawford, who has been shooting Proof composite barrels since 2013.
“The benefits over a steel barrel are that you get a larger-diameter, stiffer, faster-cooling barrel that weighs less than a standard, medium Palma-taper barrel. [There is] no real downside I’ve been able to identify in three years of shooting them. All five Proof barrels I own are capable of winning any match — providing I do my part.”
A 30-year Army vet and former Army Special Operations Sniper, Crawford has been shooting competitively since 1990. He has won many major titles, including the NRA National Long Range Championship in 2005. His 2016 Wimbledon Cup victory was his second — Norm also won the Cup in 2003. A three-time member of the U.S. Rifle Team at the World Championships, Crawford also used a Proof Research barrel to tie the national record for a 600-yard Any Gun, Any Sight competition in North Carolina last November, one of five national records he has set or tied during his shooting career.
Proof Research CEO Larry Murphy praised Crawford: “We are honored that Norm chose our barrel to go up against the best shooters in the world with. By putting our barrels to the test in intense competition, he pushes us to do our best as well.”
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John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks used the .243 Winchester cartridge to win the 2016 NRA Long Range Championship, his fourth LR title at Camp Perry. John selected the .243 Win because it offers excellent ballistics with manageable recoil. John says that, at least for a sling shooter, the .243 Win is hard to beat at long range. Yes, John says, you can get somewhat better ballistics with a .284 Win or .300 WSM, but you’ll pay a heavy price in increased recoil.
.243 Winchester — The Forgotten 6mm Cartridge for Long Range
by John Whidden, 2016 National Long Range Champion
My experience with the .243 cartridge for use as a Long Range High Power cartridge dates back about 10 years or so. After building a .300 WSM, I realized that the recoil was hurting the quality of my shots. The WSM shot great, but I couldn’t always execute good shots when shooting it. From here I built a 6.5-284, and it shot well. I also had a very accurate 6mmBR at the time, and my logic in going to the .243 Win was to get wind performance equal to the 6.5-284 with recoil similar to the 6mmBR. The experiment has worked out well indeed!
Championship-Winning Load: Berger Bullets, Lapua Brass, and Vihtavuori N160
For a load, currently I’m shooting Lapua brass, PMC primers (Russian, similar to Wolf), VihtaVuori N160 single-base powder, and Berger 105 grain Hybrid bullets. I switched to the Hybrid bullets fairly recently at the beginning of the 2015 season. Previously I shot the 105gr Berger hunting VLDs, and in testing I found that the Hybrids were just as accurate without having to seat the bullet into the lands. The velocity of this combination when shot through the excellent Bartlein 5R barrels (32” length) is around 3275 FPS.
For my match ammo, I seat the Berger 105 Hybrids well off the lands — my bullets are “jumping” from .035″-.060″. I only use one seating depth for ammunition for multiple guns (I know some benchrest shooters will stop reading right here!) and the bullets jump further in the worn barrels than in the fresh barrels. The bullets are pointed up in our Bullet Pointing Die System and are moly-coated. The moly (molybdenum disulfide) does extend the cleaning interval a little bit, probably 20% or so. The Lapua .243 Win brass is all neck-turned to .0125″ thickness.
Whidden’s .243 Win Ammo is Loaded on a Dillon
My loading process is different than many people expect. I load my ammo on a Dillon 650 progressive press using our own Whidden Gunworks dies. However powder charges are individually weighed with a stand-alone automated scale/trickler system from AutoTrickler.com (see below). Employing a high-end force restoration scale, this micro-processor controlled system offers single-kernel precision. The weighed charges are then dropped into the cases with a funnel mounted to the Dillon head.
The Lapua .243 Win brass is full-length sized every time, and I run one of our custom-sized expanders in my sizer die. The expander measures .243″ which yields the desired .001″ neck tension. In my experience, the best way to get consistent neck tension is to run an expander in the case neck at some point. When sizing the case neck by a minimal amount such as is the case here, I don’t find any negative points in using an expander in the sizer die.
In my experience, the keys to accurate long range ammo are top quality bullets and the most consistent neck tension you can produce. From these starting points, the use of quality components and accurate powder measurement will finish out the magic.
Great Ballistics with 6mm 105s at 3275 FPS
Running at an impressive 3275 FPS, Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrids deliver ballistics that are hard to beat, according to John Whidden:
“My .243 Win shoots inside a 6.5-284 with 142-grainers. Nothing out there is really ahead of [the .243], in 1000-yard ballistics unless you get into the short magnums or .284s and those carry a very significant recoil penalty. In the past I did shoot the 6.5-284. I went to the .243 Win because it had similar ballistics but had much less recoil. It doesn’t beat me up as much and is not as fatiguing.
With the .243 Win, there’s no tensing-up, no anticipating. With the reduced recoil (compared to a 7mm or big .308), I can break and shoot very good quality shots. I find I just shoot better shots with the .243 than I ever did with the 6.5-284.”
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John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks won his fourth Long Range National Championship at Camp Perry this month. In this article, the first of a three-part series on Long Range competition, John shares his thoughts on wind strategies and keeping one’s composure in pressure situations. John tells us Camp Perry was very challenging this year: “The 2016 Long Range Championship will go down in my memory as one with quick wind changes that made it very easy to shoot a 9.”
How to Win at Long Range Shooting
(Or at least what worked at the 2016 National Championships)
by John Whidden, 2016 National Long Range Champion
The NRA Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry Ohio are now in the history books and the competitors are home and reflecting on what they could have done to improve their score. I think anyone who has ever competed always knows they could have done even better if they had changed this detail or that aspect. This is the case regardless of where a shooter places in the standings, even for the winners.
This year the winds were reasonably tough. We mostly have either headwinds or winds from the 2-3 O’clock positions with speeds often in the 9-11 mph range. The changes came quickly and we had to be on our toes. Fortunately the course of fire allows the shooters some options. For the 1000-yard matches, we typically have 33 minutes for preparation, an unlimited number of sighter shots, and then 20 shots for record. Many shooters will shoot about 3-5 sighters and complete the task in about 15 minutes.
The 2016 Long Range Championship was definitely a match where you had to fight for every point during the whole event.
In preparation for shooting by watching the wind, I realized that the quick changes were going to add to the difficulty. Given the conditions, I chose a strategy of choosing only one condition to shoot in and waiting during any changes away from my desired condition. This plan meant that I would have to be very patient and plan to use all of my 33 minutes allotted time if needed.
The sun was shining for most of the matches so we had mirage to look at. There are plenty of flags at Camp Perry and I was glad for them!
As the wind speeds get higher I think a shooter should study the appearance of the flags. Some people look at the flag, and some really LOOK at the flags. The difference is observing things like how many ripples are in the flag, how far the flag stands off the pole, the angle of the flag in a headwind or tailwind, and how high the tip of the flag is relative to where the flag is attached to the pole. These details make all of the difference.
Time Management and Patience
Patience in wind reading can be a virtue. Choosing a condition and being patient has probably yielded more success in my long range wind reading than any other method. It’s not the only way to go, but on a day when you have time available and patience on your side it can yield a win! It should be obvious now that keeping a timer and managing the available time along with the number of shots remaining is an important part of this.
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Jim Laughland (far left) with Alice Bull, the first Distinguished female (third from left).
Article based on story by Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
Jim Laughland, age 77, was the presenter of the Alice Bull Trophy during the 2016 National Trophy Rifle Matches at Camp Perry. To Jim, the Alice Bull Trophy is something very special … it rekindles memories of a cherished friend and mentor, and his many decades at Camp Perry. “I just thought it’d be nice to have the chance to present it because I don’t know if I’m coming back again,” he said. “Otherwise, you might have someone presenting who never knew [Alice Bull] or loved her like I did.”
The first female to earn the Distinguished Rifleman Badge, Alice Bull was an extraordinary individual. A true pioneer, she was the women’s rifle team captain at the University of Washington. Before WWII, Bull competed at the National Matches from 1935 – 1937. In 1949, Alice became the first woman elected to the NRA’s Board of Directors. She went on to become the first female to earn the Army’s Distinguished Rifleman Badge in 1961.
The Alice Bull Trophy, awarded to the highest aggregate civilian competitor during the National Rifle Matches, was first presented in 1991 by the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association to commemorate this legendary woman and competitive shooter. The trophy features a bronze figure of Alice on top, with two rifles below, one the actual M1 Garand with which Alice earned her Distinguished Rifleman Badge.
Jim first met Alice Bull when he was a young member of the Seattle Rifle & Pistol Club. He had been friends with her son, Lee, and Jim shot with Alice in an indoor smallbore league. She helped him develop his marksmanship skills, including perfecting the cross-ankle sitting position that he still uses. Now, the woman he knew is immortalized in a perpetual trophy.
“I think it’s wonderful. And, incredible that she was a woman,” he said. “I treated her like my mother. She was very kind — a brilliant, wonderful person.”
Sixty Years of Marksmanship Starting at Camp Perry
During his 60 years of marksmanship experience, Jim has traveled all around the country and has competed with many of the most recognized individuals in the world of shooting. And, it all began at Camp Perry. “When I come to Camp Perry, there are a lot of ghosts I know, walking around,” he said.
Jim’s first visited Camp Perry in 1955, when he was just 17 years old. Jim even skipped his first week of high school to attend the National Matches. Jim started out unclassified, but left an Expert Marksman. During his early career, he shot with the Washington State National Guard and the New York National Guard. In 1962, he moved to Baltimore and joined the Maryland State Team which went on to win the Hilton Trophy for the High National Guard Team in the National Trophy Team Match. Later, he earned his Distinguished Rifleman Badge in 1964.
Head to Head with Carlos Hathcock
In August 1965, Laughland shot in one of his most memorable Camp Perry matches — going shoulder-to-shoulder with Carlos Hathcock, famed marksman and Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam. Hathcock won the Wimbledon Cup Match by a single point. “He’s the one who made me famous”, Jim said with a smile.
Jim also notably shot with two-time Olympic gold medalist and Director of Civilian Marksmanship Emeritus, Gary Anderson, in the 1960s while both were members of the All National Guard Team. Shown below are Anderson and Laughland at Camp Perry.
Another memorable match for Jim came in 1977, when he joined the All National Guard National Rifle Team and traveled to Camp Perry with them as only an alternate – or so he thought. On that day, with blustery 30 to 40 mph winds, Jim remembers remarking to his friend, “I’m glad I don’t have to shoot in this wind today!” Soon after, the colonel came up to Jim and told him he’d be shooting. At that point in his career, it had been 10 years since he had shot with the All Guard team. “I looked at my friend, thinking, ‘Should I cheer or cry?’” he joked.
At the end of the match, he and his friend were the high shooters on the team and won the National Trophy Team Match for the National Guard for the first time in 65 years.
“When I think about it, I get teary. It was such an honor,” he said. “I think it was one of the highlights of my shooting. It was like going into the World Series, in the 7th game with bases loaded, 3 runs down with a 3-2 count and hitting a Grand Slam.”
High Master and Three Grand Senior Service Rifle Championships
In 1979, the NRA introduced the High Master Classification, and Laughland became the first on the All Guard team to earn the title. Most recently, Jim won the Grand Senior Service Rifle Championships in 2008, 2009 and 2014 at Camp Perry, saying the desire to win is what keeps him shooting.
“When I found out they had the ‘old folks’ award, I switched to Service Rifle,” he said. “And I figured I’d never win it again, because these younger guys are coming in — you know, who are only 70 or 75. But when I looked and saw my name on the bulletin in 2014, I started to cry.”
Laughland Leaves a Legacy
In 2015, Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which has left him with some ailments that make it difficult to compete at his top level. But, with the reputation that precedes him, he has many friends at the National Matches, both old and new, that are always eager to welcome him back. “I have a hard time coming to Camp Perry and walking around without someone stopping me and asking me to take a picture with them,” he said. “I get choked up.”
“I’d like to leave a legacy,” he said. “When I don’t make it to Camp Perry anymore, it’s the people I’ll miss the most. It’s been my life….”
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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It’s summer time. That means many of our readers are on the road (attending major shooting matches or enjoying summer vacations). How do you do your reloading chores while living like a Gypsy for a few weeks? Here’s a solution from Forum member Dave Gray (U.S. Army Retired).
Dave is a self-declared “full-time RVer” who spends most of his time on the road. Behind his Ram 3500 pickup, Dave tows a huge 41-foot Heartland Cyclone toy hauler featuring a 12X8 foot garage in the rear. In the rear garage area, which holds a Smart Car, Dave has set up a removable reloading bench complete with RCBS Rockchucker single stage press and Dillon progressive press.
Reloading Bench Mounts to RV Wall with Brackets
Dave explains: “I used a 2″X6″X5′ board for the bench. It’s perfect for my needs, and is easy to disassemble. I made it this small so that I can park my Smart Car in the garage during travel to my destinations. The bench, attached to the wall frames, is very solid. The presses’ centers are 3″ and 6.5″ from the brackets. [There are] four bolts on the wall into aluminum wall frame and 3 bolts in the bench. If I ever have to replace the current board, I’ll do so with oak or birch or hickory. When I’m not reloading, I remove the presses and store them in a protected space. I can easily attach other equipment to the bench by using C-Clamps.” Dave’s “rolling reloading room” looks very well thought-out. We commend Dave for his inventiveness.
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We congratulate Norman Houle, the 2016 National High Power Champion, and John Whidden, the 2016 National Long Range Champion. Norm secured his win with an impressive 2384-130X score. Along with the title of National Champion, Norm received a Mumma Trophy Plaque, a National Champion Medallion, Krieger Barrels Certificate, Trijicon Scope, and Geissele Certificate. In second place was last year’s champion, SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU. Brandon, who won the 2015 and 2013 High Power Championships, finished with a score of 2381-120X. In third place was SGT Nick Mowrer with 2381-114X, a very impressive score with a Service Rifle. (SGT Mowrer won the Service Rifle Championship.)
John Whidden is always strong at Camp Perry (file photo from past event).
Whidden Wins Long Range Championship
In the Long Range Competition (Tompkins Trophy Match), John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks topped the field with a very strong 1240-77X performance. This victory secured John’s fourth Long Range National title. As in the High Power Championship, in the Long Range event SFC Brandon Green also finished in second place (1238-67X). Rounding out the Long Range podium was William Gelet with a 1238-57X tally. With his Long Range Championship win, Whidden took home a Tompkins Trophy Plaque, a Gold Championship Medallion, and a $500 Berger Bullets Certificate.
John campaigned three rifles he smithed himself. These feature Barnard actions in modified Anschutz smallbore stocks. For the open-caliber events, John shot .243 Win-chambered rifles with 6mm 105gr Berger Hybrids. For the Palma matches he shot a .308 Win with 155gr Berger Hybrids. John’s ammo was loaded on Whidden dies of course. During the Long Range cycle, matches were shot with both iron sights and scopes. John had two different .243 Win rifles, one fitted with iron sights, the other with a scope.
High Power Hardware: The Guns of Perry
We thought our readers would like to see some of the ultra-accurate rifles campaigned by High Power competitors at Camp Perry. Both bolt-action and self-loading rifles are popular. Among bolt guns, Tubb 2000s and Eliseo tubeguns are popular. Semi-auto AR platform “Space Guns” offer some advantages (particularly during rapid-fire and for standing position), and are favored by many of the top marksmen. Many Camp Perry High Power competitors are also shooting less exotic AR service rifles.
Tubb 2000 with a shortened handguard, and custom hand support bracket forward of mag well.
The modern AR Space Gun, scoped version. Note the side charging handle, and absence of forward assist. A block fitted under the handguard helps with the standing position. The scope is mounted on a “piggy-back” rail that extends forward of upper receiver’s built-in rail.
Earlier this week, on July 27th, the CMP held the 2016 Vintage Sniper Rifle Match at Camp Perry. This unique event is a two-man team competition using scoped rifles of WWI and WWII Vintage. This has become of of the most popular rifle matches held at Perry, with 259 teams competing this summer. Many competitors use some version of the M1903 Springfield, but you’ll also see scoped M1 Garands, K31s, Mausers, and even a Lee-Enfield or two. (Semi-Auto shooters are scored separately). This year the Vintage Sniper Match was won by the “Yogi & BooBoo” family team of Silas Fentress and Wesley Fentress, with a 396-13X score. Close behind was runner-up duo Donald Schedler and John Watson (394-13X). Winning the semi-auto division were Brian Dobish and Clayton Maugans (373-8X).
Two-person teams will fire 10 rounds in 20-second intervals from scoped vintage military rifles set on sand bags. One team marksman shoots from the prone position at 300 and 600 yards, while the other serves as a spotter to relay shot position. Marksman and spotter switch positions on the firing lines, allowing each teammate to play both roles. Scores are then combined for an Aggregate team total.
Two M1 Garands, fitted with scopes and lace-on cheekpads.
Who can identify this rifle, with its unusual scope mount?
Our friends at Criterion Barrels have written an interesting article about the 2014 Vintage Sniper Rifle Match. It you want an “insider’s perspective” on the 2014 Match, plus Vintage Sniper gunsmithing tips, read this article. Here are some highlights:
About the Match and the Rifles
The Vintage Sniper Match was the brainchild of Hornady’s Dave Emary. The competition was inspired by his father, a World War II scout sniper, who carried a rifle similar to the 1903A4 rifle builds that can be found today on the Camp Perry firing line. Bob Schanen worked alongside Dave and the CMP staff in establishing the various competition rules prior to the first official Vintage Sniper Match in 2011. The match developers made a point to offer some level of flexibility in rifle configuration, allowing specific types of non-issue optics and rifle rebuilds. This helped make the match more inclusive.
Hornady’s Dave Emary and “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey (right):
Camp Perry — The Venue
The hallowed grounds of Camp Perry have hosted some of the nation’s finest shooters each summer for more than a century. Some of the world’s greatest marksmen have accomplished remarkable feats on the ranges of this lakeside military outpost. Located on the coast of Lake Erie, Camp Perry is positioned just outside of the scenic town of Port Clinton, Ohio. It is our firm belief that every shooter should make the pilgrimage to the Camp Perry at least once in their lifetime. If not participating in an event, visitors should at least make an attempt to meet the competitors, witness the wide selection of firearms used by participants, and pay a visit to the various vendors on base.
When the NRA and CMP issued new rules allowing the use of 4.5X optics for Service Rifles, some asked: “will scopes really make a difference?”. The answer is a resounding “Yes”, based on match results just in from Camp Perry. In the prestigious National President’s 100 Match fired July 25th, the first-, second-, and third-place finishers all had scopes. Keith Stephens won the match, SFC Evan Hess took second, and Hugh Reich finished third — an all-optics Podium. Both winner Keith Stephens and third-place Hugh Reich were running March 1-4.5x24mm scopes on their rifles. And there were many other optics users among the Top 20 competitors in the President’s 100 Finals. (The President’s 100 Match concludes with a single 10-round shoot-off at 600 yards, fired by the best 20 shooters from the prelims.)
The March 1-4.5x24mm scope was designed expressly for Service Rifle competition and tactical applications (it will focus down to 10 yards). This first-focal-plane optic features 1/4″ MOA clicks and optimal eye relief for AR-type rifles. March’s optics experts tell us: “This scope was specifically designed for the Service Rifle match shooter. Oversized tactical turrets allow for easy windage and elevation adjustments. High-quality ED (low distortion) lenses provide superior image resolution”. Current retail price for this scope is $2338.00 from Bullets.com.
That is a significant investment to be sure. But if you asked President’s 100 Match Winner Keith Stephens, he’d probably tell you his March 1-4.5x24mm scope was worth every penny…
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Keith Stephens won the prestigious 2016 President’s 100 Match at Camp Perry, as well as the Alice Bull Trophy for the highest-scoring civilian.
Our friend Dennis Santiago is at Camp Perry, where today (25 July) he is shooting the National President’s 100 Rifle Match — a competition steeped in history. First fired in 1878, this match was incorporated into the National Match program in 1903. The President’s Match was modeled after the famous British Queen’s Prize Match. Originally, the Match winner received a letter of congratulations from the President of the United States.
In the President’s Rifle Match, all competitors fire 10 shots standing, 10 shots rapid prone, and 10 shots prone slow fire to determine who makes the President’s 100 list. The top 20 shooters then advance to a final where they fire a 10-shot stage at 600 yards. This 20-marksman Finals Shoot-off now concludes the President’s Rifle Match.
Origins of the President’s Match
The President’s Match originated in 1878 as the American Military Rifle Championship Match. In 1884, the name was changed to the President’s Match for the Military Rifle Championship of the United States. It was fired at Creedmoor, New York until 1891. In 1895, it was reintroduced at Sea Girt, New Jersey. Today, the match is held at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The President’s Match was patterned after an event for British Volunteers called the Queen’s Match. That British competition was started in 1860 by Queen Victoria and the NRA of Great Britain to increase the ability of Britain’s marksmen following the Crimean War.
The tradition of making a letter from the President of the United States the first prize began in 1904 when President Theodore Roosevelt personally wrote a letter of congratulations to the winner, Private Howard Gensch of the New Jersey National Guard.
After a hiatus in the 1930s and 1940s, The President’s Match was reinstated in 1957 at the National Matches as “The President’s Hundred”. The 100 top-scoring competitors in the President’s Match are singled out for special recognition.
Ever wonder what “Maggie’s Drawers” means? Well, in the shooting community it means a complete miss on the target, as originally indicated by a large red flag. In this 1957 photo, the U.S. Army brought the targets to the students at the annual Small Arms Firing School. Wheeled carts with “demo” targets were positioned at the firing line, between shooting stations, so trainees could better see the procedures. Soldiers demonstrated firing a shot, scoring the target and scorecard on the Camp Perry firing line. Targets in use at the time were the “V” type. In this demonstration shot, the pit worker waves a red flag, known as “Maggie’s Drawers”, signifying a miss. This old photo comes from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Archives.
If you click the gray tab to view the photo full-screen, you can see something extra. Look carefully at the horizon below the muzzle of the M1 Garand held by the shooter in the foreground. If you look carefully, you can see a crane being used to erect the beach tower that now watches over Lake Erie and the ranges when they are “hot”.
Origin of ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ Term
Hap Rocketto, noted shooting historian, has explained the etymology of “Maggie’s Drawers”. This term “refers to the red flag waved vigorously across the face of the target to signify a complete miss of the target during practice”. The term came in use in the early 20th Century (prior to WWI) when flags were used to signal shot locations on long-range rifle targets.
Hap writes: “Since [the early 20th Century] the target has changed to the decimal bull and the marking system has been revised several times. Flags are no longer used, being replaced by value panels and chalk boards. However, one term from the flag days has held on with a tenacity that is indicative of the strong traditions of the high power community. If a shooter had the misfortune of firing a miss a red flag was waved across the front of the target. The flag is commonly known as ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ giving us the term now generally used to refer to a miss. The term ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ seems to be based on, as many things are in the military, a bawdy song. Prior to The Great War there was an old music hall song entitled The Old Red Flannel Drawers That Maggie Wore which [was creatively altered], as things tend to be by the troops, into something less delicate than might have been sung in vaudeville in the United States or in British music halls of the day.”
Quadruple Distinguished Marksman
You are looking at a very special human being — the world’s only holder of FOUR Distinguished Marksmanship Badges. While competing in the 2016 National Trophy Pistol Matches at Camp Perry, Team Lapua’s Steve Reiter (Tucson, AZ) became the first Quadruple Distinguished Badge Marksman in history. This past week, 74-year-old Reiter received his most recent Distinguished Badge, the new .22 Rimfire Pistol Badge, which has only been in existence since 2015. Before that, Reiter had earned his Pistol Distinguished Badge in 1972, his International Badge in 1973, and his Rifle Distinguished Badge in 1998. Over his four-decade competitive career, Reiter has competed in free pistol, standard pistol, air pistol, and centerfire events as well as rifle.
Earning FOUR Distinguished Badges is a great achievement — something that has never been done before, much less by a Senior shooter. We offer our congratulations to Steve for achieving this first-ever, shooting milestone.
Practice and Hard Work Were Key Says Reiter
Reiter told us: “It’s a big honor, really. When you’re the first at anything, it’s a big honor. It feels great to be the first.” Steve added: “Most people don’t understand how much work it is. And it being a CMP badge … it means something.”
To be a successful marksman, Steve explained, it takes dedication and lots of practice: “You have to work pretty hard. More or less, you have to do a lot of practicing and a lot of dry-firing, and actually work at it. You can’t come out here and just shoot. You’ve got to really work at it, like anything else, to get to the top of your field.”
A former U.S. Army Reserve Team member, Reiter’s list of shooting honors over his 40-year competition career is truly remarkable:
Member of the 1980 Olympic team in Free Pistol
Five-time National Champion at Camp Perry
34 Overall National Championship Titles
44 National Records
40+ Regional Championships
Two-time President’s 100 Champion in Pistol
Two-time National Trophy Individual Match Champion in Pistol
10-time Winner of the National Match High Senior Pistol Trophy
Five-time Winner of Citizens’ Military Pistol Trophy
Canada International Service Pistol Champion
Two-time Free Pistol National Champion
Standard Pistol National Champion
Seven-time Interservice Championship Team Member
In addition to these titles, Reiter also set other numerical scoring records, including the best .22 Aggregate (899), and the best Three-Gun Aggregate Score (2671).
Team Lapua — Supporting Excellence
Lapua, or more officially Nammo Lapua Oy, is part of the large Nordic Nammo Group. Our main products are small caliber cartridges and components. The Lapua cartridge factory was established in 1923. From a modest and practical beginning, Lapua has grown into one of the most respected brands in the industry. The best shooters in the world choose Lapua cartridges and components. In 2014, Nammo acquired the Vihtavuori smokeless powder factory.
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Camp Perry has entered the electronic age — Perry’s first electronic targets “go live” this week. On Thursday, July 21, the CMP hosts a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the installation of its new Kongsberg electronic rifle and pistol targets on Camp Perry’s Petrarca Range. During the afternoon, guests can test out the new targets with their own suitable firearms, or use “loaner” AR-15 rifles and M9 pistols provided by the CMP.
The first ten electronic rifle targets, placed at 200 yards, are now ready for action on the Petrarca Range. Reduced target centers will allow shooters to practice for longer distances as well. the smaller pistol/smallbore targets are mounted in portable carriers so they can be stationed at 25 or 50 yards. Three pistol targets are now in place (see photo at right).
This is the beginning of a process to supply many ranges at Camp Perry with state-of-the-art Kongsberg (KTS) electronic targets similar to those installed at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park. However, the CMP is NOT planning a whole-scale replacement of all of Camp Perry’s old-fashioned targets.
CMP Offers Free “Test Drives” of Kongsberg Electronic Targets
Petrarca Range will be open throughout the National Matches to allow competitors and visitors to try the KTS targets for FREE. During this time, guests are encouraged to bring their own firearms and ammo to use at the range as no rentals will be available other than the day of the Ribbon Cutting. After the National Matches are over in August, the range will be open several Mondays for Open Public Shooting, with a small fee charged to shoot on the electronic targets.
Video Demonstrates Kongsberg Target System
KTS Electronic Targets use multiple acoustic sensors to “hear” the shot and accurately triangulate its location. Shot placements (and score values) are calculated instantly and transmitted in real time to display screens at the shooting stations. These kind of targets allow matches to run faster, with no pit duties required. All scoring is handled by the KTS central “brain” which can outputs scores to linked electronic scoreboards.
Monitors Display Score and Shot Location Instantly
Each Kongsberg target connects to a monitor that displays the hit locations to the shooter. Easy push-button controls allow the shooter to cycle through hits and options without having to change positions. The monitors employ non-glare glass protected by an aluminum frame that acts as a shade. This ensures good visibility for the shooter.
These state-of-the-art electronic targets are also used in the CMP’s new Talladega Marksmanship Park, where they have proven to be very popular with shooters. NOTE — the CMP is not planning a whole-scale replacement of all of Camp Perry’s old-fashioned targets. However the CMP hopes to modernize the Camp Perry facility, by installing some electronic targets on all Camp Perry ranges by summer 2018.
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The nation’s top bullseye pistol shooters were at Camp Perry last week for the NRA National Trophy Pistol Championships. If you’ve every wondered what it takes to win a pistol match using the classic, one-handed hold, here are some tips from one of the best ever, Brian “Gunny” Zins, 12-Time NRA National Pistol Champion.
Trigger Movement: If trigger control is ever interrupted in slow fire the shot needs to be aborted and the shot started over.
Relationship between Sight Alignment and Trigger Control: Often when the fundamentals are explained these two are explained as two different acts. Well, truth be told it’s really kind of hard to accomplish one without the other. They have a symbiotic relationship. In order to truly settle the movement in the dot or sights you need a smooth, steady trigger squeeze.
Trigger Finger Placement: Where should the trigger make contact on the finger? The trigger should be centered in the first crease of the trigger finger. Remember this is an article on Bullseye shooting. If this were an article on free pistol or air pistol it would be different.
Proper Grip: A proper grip is a grip that will NATURALLY align the gun’s sights to the eye of the shooter without having to tilt your head or move your or move your wrists around to do that. Also a proper grip, and most importantly, is a grip that allows the gun to return to the same position [with sights aligned] after each and every shot. The best and easiest way to get the proper grip, at least a good starting position… is with a holster. Put your 1911 in a holster on the side of your body[.] Allow your shooting hand to come down naturally to the gun.
After a rip-roaring Opening Ceremony, the 2016 National Matches at Camp Perry commenced with the handgun Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) on July 11th, followed by Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) pistol matches on July 12th. The SAFS was led by USAMU, Military Team, and CMP instructors. Following classroom instruction and practice on the range, SAFS participants fired a true M9 EIC Match with the goal of earning points towards the prestigious Distinguished Badge.
On July 12th, the CMP .22 Rimfire and Service Pistol EIC matches were held. These matches were hugely popular — with 480 Rimfire competitors and 400 Service Pistol shooters. This year, there was plenty of talent on the firing line. Of the top 50 Service Pistol shooters, 46 were Distinguished, including the top 18 competitors.
The USAMU’s SSG Greg Markowski won the Service Pistol EIC Match with a score of 293-11X. Fellow USAMU team members SFC Lawrence Cleveland (286-5X) and SFC James Henderson (284-9X) finished second and third respectively.
In the .22 Rimfire EIC Pistol Match a USAMU shooter again took top honors. SFC Michael Gasser shot 293-5X to become the overall winner. Close behind, with identical 292-11X scores, were Jonathan Shue and SGT Ryan Franks. It’s notable that both Shue and Franks had many more Xs than SFC Gasser, the overall winner.
Talented shooters stood shoulder to shoulder on the firing line…
The license plate says it all — perfection at Perry is a 10X.
There were 480 registered competitors in .22 Rimfire EIC match.
USAMU Shooters won both EIC pistol matches (.22 Rimfire and Service Pistol).
Many U.S. Military Service Personnel attended the EIC Matches
It took decades of competition to acquire all those patches — that’s dedication to the sport.
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The National Rimfire Sporter Match took place on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at Camp Perry. The day before (Friday, July 8th), a free instructional Rimfire Sporter Clinic was held in the afternoon. One of the most popular events at Camp Perry, the Rimfire Sporter Match attracts hundreds of shooters from 8 to 80 years, novices as well as experienced competitors. It is a great game for shooters who “just want to have fun” without spending a small fortune on rifle, optics, gear and ammo.
Watch Highlights from the 2016 National Rimfire Sporter Match:
2016 Rimfire Sporter Top Gun — Ted James
Ted James had an incredible day on July 9, winning both the scoped T-Class and the Tactical Class. Out-firing over 220 T-Class competitors, James recorded a remarkable 598-40X. In the Tactical Class, where he currently holds the National Record (595-37X set at Perry in 2015), shot an impressive 592-27X.
“I just had a good day,” he said as he laughed. “I practiced pretty hard in the week leading up to it.”
Going along with practice, James also credits his win to the Rimfire Sporter Match’s accessibility — the way it’s meant to encourage old and young marksmen alike with affordable gear and a fun course of fire.
“That’s the thing about it – it’s low cost, and it’s easy to get started in. There shouldn’t be any fear in trying it out,” he said. “People come out here and have a good time. I’ve never seen anyone have a bad time.”
Rimfire Sporter Equipment
Rifles used during the competition may be manually operated or semi-automatic and supported with sights or a sling. Competitors will complete slow fire prone, rapid fire prone, slow fire sitting or kneeling, rapid fire sitting or kneeling, slow fire standing and rapid fire standing shot sequences. To learn more about the National Rimfire Sporter Match, CLICK HERE.
Three different classifications of rifles can be used in Rimfire Sporter competition: “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T Class” for telescope-sighted rifles and the recently-added “Tactical Rimfire” class. Awards are offered to High Juniors, High Seniors, High Women as well as Overall winners are named for each class.
Establishing zero at 300 yards. Dennis says: “Wow you can really drive that crosshair into the center of the bull with ease” with the 4.5X optic.
Dennis Santiago recently received the all-new Nightforce Competition SR Fixed 4.5x24mm Service Rifle scope. He will be using this at Camp Perry soon, so he needed to get zeros (and click values) for all his yardages. Off he headed to the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club (BRRC) for a Zero Session.
After establishing a 100-yard, base-line zero from the bench, Dennis put on his sling and jacket to work out to 200, 300, and 600 yards. When shooting at 200, Dennis said: “The target is huge in that 4.5X scope. Fun to drive. Next stop NRA Week at Camp Perry!”
Above you can see Dennis working up two elevation zeroes for 600 yards. First he fired a center hold using the crosshair inside the circle to “pie” the bull. Next, he shot with a 12 o’clock hold using the lower leg of the crosshair to bisect the target. You can see the target at 600 yards in the top right of the photo.
Zeroing Task accomplished, Dennis is ready to take this rifle to Camp Perry for the National Championships. He says: “In the end, it’s always about your handy-dandy notebook.”
New 2016 CMP/NRA Rules Allow 4.5X Optics
Dennis Santiago explains the Service Rifle rule changes that now allow scopes up to 4.5X max magnification (and max 34mm objective):
“Per the 2016 Rulebooks of the CMP and NRA, today’s Service Rifle is now defined to include an M-16/AR-15 variant with an optical sighting system not to exceed 4.5X magnification. So, this optic-equipped rifle goes head-to-head with the match-tuned M-16A2/AR-15A2 iron sight guns in the same class. The rules were updated to take into account that some military branches no longer train service members to shoot iron sights as their primary marksmanship method and have switched to reliance combat optics. The rules were debated and tried in 2015 and codified at the beginning of this year. This will be the first Nationals where the old and new generation guns compete side-by-side.
Here is my personal prediction: There will be improved scores by Expert class shooters who figure out how to work with optics jumping into Master class. At the High Master level, there may be a slight rise in numerical scores but there will be a massive jump in X-Count. EICs will remain the all-out race they’ve always been; whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the day.”
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On Monday, July 11th, the CMP and NRA host the 2016 First Shot Ceremony, the official opening of the National Trophy Pistol and Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. The ceremony kicks off at 9:30 am and is open to the public.
The event begins with music from the 122nd Army Band. Next come aerial fly-overs by a Navy TBM Avenger, a WWII-era B-25 bomber, and the Yankee Air Museum’s Yankee Lady B-17. Vintage military vehicles (jeeps and tanks) will also be on display during the ceremony.
After the aircraft, a salute will be fired from four artillery pieces, which span 200+ years of the nation’s history. The “Guns of July” will include: War of 1812-era cannon, Civil War-era cannon, modern-era 37mm anti-aircraft gun, and last but not least, Camp Perry’s own 70mm cannon.
The distinguished First Shot Speaker will be CMP Board Member, Oscar Mahlon Love, a former Commissioner of the New Mexico State Police and Civilian Aide Senior to the Secretary of the Army. After the speech Mr. Love will fire the first official shot of the National Matches down Rodriguez Range.
Birds-Eye View of Camp Perry Ranges
We know many of our worldwide readers may never have a chance to visit Camp Perry in person, but they are still interested in this historic facility on the shore of Lake Erie, near Port Clinton, Ohio. If you’ve always wanted to see what Camp Perry looks like, here are a series of “Birds-eye” photos taken from the Beach Tower.
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.
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.”
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.
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Got a spare weekend in July? Then head to Camp Perry, Ohio for the National Rimfire Sporter Match. The CMP invites shooters of all ages to this fun event to be held Saturday, July 9, 2016 at Camp Perry. On Friday, July 8th, a free instructional Rimfire Sporter Clinic will be held in the afternoon. If you’ve never participated in a Rimfire Sporter Match, you should give it a try. One of the most popular events at Camp Perry, the Rimfire Sporter Match attracts hundreds of shooters from 8 to 80 years, novices as well as experienced competitors. It is a great game for shooters who “just want to have fun” without spending a small fortune on rifle, optics, gear and ammo.
Rifles used during the competition may be manually operated or semi-automatic and supported with sights or a sling. Competitors will complete slow fire prone, rapid fire prone, slow fire sitting or kneeling, rapid fire sitting or kneeling, slow fire standing and rapid fire standing shot sequences. For more info about the Rimfire Sporter Match (and entry forms), CLICK HERE.
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles). To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required. Many junior and senior clubs make the National Rimfire Sporter Match an annual tradition — bringing together marksmen of all ages.
Three different classifications of rifles will be used during the competition: “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T Class” for telescope-sighted rifles and the recently-added “Tactical Rimfire” class. Awards are offered to High Juniors, High Seniors, High Women as well as Overall winners will be named for each class.
The CMP will host a FREE instructional Rimfire Sporter Clinic on Friday, July 8 from 4-6 pm in the afternoon. This Clinic will cover rules, Course of Fire, safety instructions, and competition procedures. This FREE CLINIC will include demonstrations and presentations by qualified members of the CMP. Competitors with no previous Rimfire Sporter Match experience are strongly encouraged to attend.
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