The First Shot, the CMP’s online magazine, features a well-written article on Prone Shooting Technique by SPC Matthew Sigrist of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). The article covers all the major points of gun hold and body position: hand position, elbow position, stock weld, buttstock placement, and sling position/tension.
Keep it Steady — The Elements of a Good Prone Position
Part 1 — Building the Position By SPC Matthew Sigrist
Imagine the following scenario: You are at the last stage of fire in the National Trophy Individual Match, firing at the 600 yard line in the prone position and every point matters. What should you reflect on as you prepare to shoot this final string? As your eyes cloud from sweat, you realize that all you have to rely on is your experience and knowledge of the fundamentals.
During the National Trophy Individual Match, you will fire 60 percent of your shots from the prone position. This article will address the fundamentals of a good prone position and help you learn the techniques required to be successful in both the slow and rapid-fire stages of National Match competition.
This article will be divided into two parts. In part one, we will discuss the elements of a good prone position. In part two, we will cover the techniques you will in the rapid-fire and slow-fire stages.
The fundamentals are the building blocks of a position. Much like the framework of a house, a correct application of the fundamentals ensures a solid and stable structure. Since each person’s position will depend on their particular body build and shape, there is no “perfect position” that applies to everyone. Experience, practice and knowledge of the correct fundamentals will dictate the best position for you.
There are six key elements of any position. The purpose for these six points is to achieve a solid platform that allows for consistent sight alignment using the least amount of muscle tension.
1. Placement of the Firing Hand (the hand that pulls the trigger)
The firing hand needs to be placed high on the pistol grip. This high hand position will give you better control of the rifle. Combined with a firm grip there will be a reduced amount of hand movement when pulling the trigger. Wrap your thumb over the three fingers on the pistol grip (excluding the trigger finger). This will help isolate the movement of the trigger finger.
2. Placement of the Non-firing Hand (the hand supporting the rifle).
The non-firing hand should grip the handguard or stock in the flat portion of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. The fingers should curl naturally around the stock, but they should not grip it tightly. The position of the hand on the stock will depend on the physical size of the shooter. Generally speaking, taller shooters with longer arms will grip the rifle further out, near the sling swivel, while shorter shooters will need to pull their hand rearward. This is sometimes referred to as “short-stocking” the rifle.
3. Stock Weld
Stock weld is the contact that the face makes with the stock. It is important because it directly effects your sight alignment. Consistent head placement will help you achieve consistent sight alignment. The human head weighs an average of 8 to 10 pounds. The full weight of the head must rest on the stock. In doing this you achieve two things, a relaxed neck and reduced recoil because of the pressure of the head.
4. Placement of the Rifle (the contact that is made in the firing shoulder)
The rifle butt placement needs to be consistent. If this changes between shots, it effects your sight alignment and the effect of recoil. In the prone position the rifle will sit lower in the shoulder compared to other shooting positions. This allows for a more forward head and a lower position as a whole.
5. Position of the Sling
The sling should be high on the arm, above the bicep. This way the sling will have less leverage on the arm so it doesn’t cut off the circulation.
Demonstration of the placement of the firing elbow (left) and non-firing elbows (right).
6. Placement of both the firing, and non-firing elbows
A guideline for non-firing elbow placement is that there should be 1 ½’’ to 2’’ gap between your non-firing arm and the rifle’s magazine. (NOTE: this references the AR-15 service rifle) Your arm should be almost straight up and down; this will transfer the weight directly down the arm and not to the side (see picture above). Think of the firing arm as only a kind of kickstand, it doesn’t support weight it only holds the firing hand in position.
Variations of the Prone Position
There are two main variations of the prone position; open/spread legged, and bent-legged. The two types will be discussed below.
Open/Spread Leg Position
Demonstration of the Open/Spread Leg Position.
The first position is the open/spread legged position. This is when the shooter spreads their legs shoulder width or more apart. This allows for a more forward pressure on the sling and elbows. This position requires a tighter sling and solid elbow placement. The rifle should sit tight in the shoulder. With this position, your body will be farther behind the rifle compared to the bent leg position, allowing for minimum disturbance from recoil.
Bent Leg Position
Demonstration of the Bent Leg Position.
The bent leg position is when the shooter bends the firing side leg up towards the firing hand making the knee at a rough 90 degree angle to the body. The non-firing leg will remain straight and inline with the body. This will take pressure off the lungs and heart minimizing the pulse from the chest as well as easing the pressure on the lungs which will allow for easy breathing and control.
You now know the fundamentals of a good prone position, as well as the two types most commonly used. Extensive dry-firing will reveal which is the best position for you. If possible, have a friend take pictures of you in position. This will enable you to better diagnose and correct your errors. Remember, a position must be both fundamentally sound and comfortable. Practice frequently to learn your new position and to develop the conditioning required to endure long days on the range.
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You may not be aware, but the Civilian Marksmanship Program runs a reliable, reasonably-priced maintenance/repair facility for USGI-issue rifles. Since October 2013, the CMP Custom Shop (Anniston, AL) has provided gunsmithing services for a wide range of U.S. Military rifles, specifically those issued in early eras. As well as repairs and troubleshooting, the CMP Custom Shop can upgrade, accurize, customize, and refinish the types of rifles the CMP sells.
CMP will work on the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, 1903 and 1903A3 Springfield, the 1917 Enfield and the Krag. Other rifles like the Remington 40X, Mossberg 44, and H&R Model 12 can also be serviced. CMP will NOT work on shotguns, pistols, revolvers, M14/M1A, AR15-style rifles or other commercially-produced modern rifles. For a list of services (with prices) visit the CMP Custom Shop webpage.
NOTE: Before you can send a rifle to the CMP Custom Shop you must be a customer on file in the CMP system. Customers must meet the same eligibility requirements as for CMP rifle purchases. Once qualified, you can purchase a rifle from the CMP and have the CMP Custom Shop make modifications to it prior to shipping.
CMP Custom Shop Can Work on USGI Rifles Purchased from Other Sources
The CMP Custom Shop can work on rifles that may have been purchased elsewhere as long as they were made by a USGI contractor. Some examples include: Springfield Armory (not Springfield Inc.), Harrington & Richardson, Winchester, International Harvester, Remington, Rock Island, Eddystone, Inland, Underwood, Rock-Ola, Quality Hardware, National Postal meter, Standard Products, IBM, Irwin-Pederson and Saginaw. NOTE: There are many NON-USGI copies of the M1 Garand, 1903 Springfield and especially the M1 Carbine that CMP will be unable to work on.
For more information, call (256) 835-8455, x1113, or send email to customshop [at] thecmp.org. Shipping and Correspondence address for the CMP Custom Shop is:
The CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park will host the first-ever American Marksman National Championship January 6-8, 2017. This will be the culmination of a nationwide series of competitions for the Outdoor Channel’s new American Marksman television show. The January big-money National Championship gives amateur shooters the chance to win cash, gear and fame. The top shooter will win $50,000 and earn the title of “American Marksman”.
The American Marksman competition began in March 2016 with regional qualifiers at locations across the country. That was followed by nine Regional Championships. The process all comes to a high-stakes conclusion at the American Marksman National Championship in Talladega in January 2017. Top competitors from the nine Regional Championships are eligible to compete in the National Championship. Competitors are split into one of four divisions: Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Military/Law Enforcement, and Juniors. The entire process will be filmed for later broadcast on the Outdoor Channel.
American Marksman — A Nationwide Challenge Match
“If you ever wanted to enter a shooting competition and thought it was too intimidating or too expensive – then this is your chance to show the world what you’ve got,” said producer Michael Bane of the Outdoor Channel. “For only $20 at the local level, you get the chance to try to qualify with other amateurs in a relaxed, safe environment and the best of you will meet in a … National Championship with TV cameras rolling. The person who earns the title of ‘American Marksman’ walks away with $50,000.”
Course of Fire Remains Top Secret
The Course of Fire for the National event at Talladega will not be released until competitors arrive at the venue. Eligible participants receive a sheet outlining a list of skills to practice during the fall leading up to the match. The National Championship competitor will be awarded a check for $50,000, a prize package and the honor of being named the first American Marksman.
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Want to build your own accurized M1 Garand? Then consider signing up for the CMP’s Advanced Maintenance Class (AMC), a 3-day program for students with mechanical aptitude and a desire to work on M1 Garand rifles. Each student will assemble his own CMP Special M1 Garand Rifle with a USGI receiver. This will be a “keeper” Garand that the AMC student takes home. Total cost for the 2017 AMC is $1830.00, which includes the cost of the rifle ($1030.00) plus tuition charges. Students must provide their own accommodations in Anniston, Alabama.
Registration is open for the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) 2017 Advanced Maintenance Clinics. Interested persons may register now through December 2, 2016. NOTE: If you are interested in this program, apply soon — all spots in last year’s classes filled up quickly.
Each 3-Day Advanced Maintenance Class will be led by highly-qualified Custom Shop staff members. On the third day, students will visit the Talladega Marksmanship Park as VIP guests of the CMP. At Talladega, each AMC student will have a chance to fire the M1 Garand they built in the class, shooting at Talladega’s high-tech electronic targets.
CMP 2017 Advanced Maintenance Class (AMC) dates are:
January 24-26; January 27-29
March 14-16; March 17-19
August 15-17 (Buddy Class); August 18-20 (Buddy Class)
October 24-26; October 27-29
This class is not intended for gunsmiths — no prior armorer experience is required. Students will assemble their own CMP Special rifle, which is included in the $1830.00 fee. Class topics will include:
– Commercial barrel installation, chambering, and headspace
— Component function, selection, and inspection
— Fitting and proper assembly of a complete CMP Special rifle
— Discussion of malfunctions and their remedies
— Accurizing techniques for the M1 Garand
How to Register
Applicants must register via the CMP Competition Tracker system website between November 21 and December 2, 2016. An electronic lottery will randomly assign the 20 available seats for each class date. CLICK HERE for more details.
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In response to the NRA’s just-revealed plans to move NRA High Power Rifle Matches away from Camp Perry starting in 2017, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has announced that it will offer MORE matches at the storied Camp Perry facility in 2018. CMP is demonstrating its commitment to Camp Perry, which has been the site of the National Matches since 1907.
CMP Announces New Programs for 2018 National Matches
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is pleased to announce planning is underway for a number of new and exciting programs for the 2018 National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.
“In an effort to continue to attract new competitors and to reward the thousands who annually participate in our matches, the CMP will add new pistol, smallbore, high power rifle, and long range rifle matches in 2018,” said Mark Johnson, CMP Chief Operating Officer.
“A major part of our mission is to conduct competitions, provide marksmanship training and recognize competitors for their progress and achievements as has been done at the National Matches since 1903. Accordingly, we enthusiastically look forward to the opportunity to expand our role at the National Matches at Camp Perry. We are committed to Camp Perry and our published dates for events in 2017 remain set. We have invested in Camp Perry with electronic targets on Petrarca Range, the Bataan Armory, our headquarters building, the CMP North Store, and the Gary Anderson Competition Center.”
Planned enhancements include a new CMP High Power Ranking System which will provide a fair and accountable method of rewarding success on the firing line at every level of experience, above and beyond our current awards. New, challenging pistol and rifle matches will be added to the schedule. Greater shooting opportunities for women and junior competitors are being developed. Increased use of electronic targets is being considered for many events. A CMP Range Officer Certification and Licensing Program has been developed for pistol, rifle and airgun disciplines and will be introduced by year-end.
“The CMP will not waver in its mission of promoting firearm safety and marksmanship training with an emphasis on youth,” Johnson said. “The tradition of the National Matches at Camp Perry will continue, supported by the CMP and the Ohio National Guard, with or without the participation of other organizations.”
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) invites young men and women shooters to apply for CMP scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year. The CMP offers $1,000 one-year scholarships to current high school seniors. Since 2005, CMP has awarded over $1 million in scholarship grants. Last year, the CMP received a record-setting number of applications and awarded over $150,000 in scholarship money. Winning scholarship recipients came from JROTC programs, 4-H groups and other shooting clubs.
CMP Scholarships are based on merit. Selected individuals are high school seniors who are currently enrolled in a team or club that is participating in rifle or pistol marksmanship competitions. Applicants must provide rifle or pistol competition history, list of awards, and future goals in the shooting sports. Applicants must also provide academic GPA and an official high school transcript (3.0 Minimum GPA Required).
Applications are Being Accepted Now for 2017-2018
The CMP is now taking scholarship applications for the 2017-2018 freshman college year. Scholarships are one-year awards that may be used to fund any accredited, post-secondary education or vocational program. (Note: Students planning to enroll in a military academy are not eligible).
The deadline for CMP Scholarship Application is March 20, 2017. Learn more about the program at the CMP Website Scholarship Page. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Williams at 419-635-2141, ext. 709, or email kwilliams [@] thecmp.org.
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Here’s some good news for owners of 1903 Springfields, 1903A3s, M1 Garands, and M1 Carbines. The CMP sells brand new chrome-moly barrels for these rifles for $190.00 or less. These authentic-profile barrels are made by Criterion Barrels in Richfield, WI, using the button-rifling process. They are “semi-finished” meaning they come chambered and headspaced within .010″ of finished size, with final fitting to be done by a competent gunsmith. The barrels are also externally Parkerized to match the finish of your vintage ’03, Garand, or M1 Carbine. To order, go to the CMP eStore and click the Barrels Link in the upper left.
New 1903 barrels by Criterion Barrels, Inc., 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP competition rules and are legal for the 1903 Matches. Parkerized like the original 1903 and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions.
New 1903A3 barrels by Criterion Barrels, Inc., 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP competition rules and are legal for the 1903A3 Matches. Parkerized like the original 1903A3 and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions.
New .30-06 Garand barrels by Criterion Barrels, Inc. 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP Competition Rule 7.2.4 (6) and are legal for the Garand Matches. Parkerized like the original M1 and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions. Barrel is .30-06.
New .308 Win Garand barrels by Criterion Barrels, 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Parkerized finish and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions. NOTE: Barrel is chambered for .308 Winchester.
New Carbine barrels by Criterion Barrels, 4140 chrome moly Steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP Competition Rules and are legal for the CMP M1 Carbine Matches. Parkerized like the original M1 Carbine and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and head-spaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions. Barrel is .30 Carbine.
NOTE: For all barrel types, assembly and headspacing by a qualified gunsmith is required.
Credit Forum Member Boyd Allen for finding this CMP Barrel Special
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The first-ever New England CMP Games were held at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site (CEATS) in Vermont, on September 14-18, 2016. This proved to be a great event at a stunningly scenic facility — a paradise for marksmen. Over 150 rifle and pistol competitors ventured to Vermont to enjoy the CMP’s inaugural New England Games, the latest in the CMP’s popular series of major, regional matches.
Here’s the view from the berm, looking back to the firing line…
The 2017 New England CMP Games included a Small Arms Firing School with expert instruction. Both novice shooters and experienced competitors benefitted from the training sessions.
Also featured at the New England Games was a preview of CMP’s electronic outdoor targets that are able to be transported and assembled across the country. For many shooters, this was the first time they were able to try electronic targets.
Competitors were mightily impressed by the breathtaking natural surroundings at the New England Games. “I was blown away by the facilities at Camp Ethan Allen,” said Steve Cooper, CMP North general manger. “The grounds were neatly manicured, our offices for registration and sales were very convenient and the classrooms were perfect for our clinics.”
He went on to say, “As beautiful as the surroundings were, the people were even better. They truly wanted us there and they enjoyed the matches, clinics, and other activities. It will be a pleasure to return next year for an even bigger and better event.”
Many awards were earned at the 2017 New England Games…
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true CMP Games event without a Rimfire Sporter Match.
The CEATS Pistol Range hosted both centerfire and rimfire matches in a lovely, tree-lined setting.
CLICK HERE for a complete list of New England CMP Games match results. Photos from the event are posted on the CMP’s Zenfolio website. Mark your calendars! Next year’s New England CMP Games are scheduled for September 20-24, 2017.
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Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22 LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.
The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match.
The video shows the sitting/kneeling rapid-fire stage of a Rimfire Sporter match.
Our friend Dennis Santiago helps run CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches in Southern California. Dennis observes: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”
Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”
At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”
Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.
The event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).
There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.
Are you from a Northern state that’s snowbound in the winter? Looking for a fun December diversion (and a break from cold weather)? Then consider a trip to Talledega, Alabama. This December, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) hosts the Second Annual Talladega 600, “A Southern Classic”, at the Talladega Marksmanship Park. This event for rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooters kicks off Tuesday, December 6, 2016, and concludes Sunday, December 11th. It should be fun for the whole family. For more info, visit the Talladega 600 Webpage.
Competitors of all ages and skill levels are welcome at the Talladega 600. Events will include popular CMP Games Matches: Garand, Springfield, and Vintage Military Match, as well as the Vintage Sniper, Carbine and Rimfire Match. There will be a Small Arms Firing School with an M16 Match, the Congressional 30 (similar to President’s Rifle Match), the Dixie Double Highpower Match, and an EIC Rifle Match. Pistol events will include the .22 Rimfire EIC Pistol Match, the Service Pistol EIC Match, the As-Issued 1911 and the Military & Police Matches. Shotgunners can enjoy a Sporting Clays Shoot and a 5-Stand Shoot.
Talladega Marksmanship Park
The 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is one of the most impressive shooting venues in North America. Talladega boasts superb facilities and state-of the-art electronic target systems. Each rifle firing point is equipped with a modern KTS electronic target and scoring monitor. Located beside each shooter on the firing line, these monitors allows competitors to see shot locations and scores instantly — no more waiting for targets to pulled and then marked with with a spotter disc.
For spectators following the action, large monitors inside the comfortable 13,000-square-foot Clubhouse will display scores from the shooting matches as they are being fired. Scores are also viewable online through the CMP’s Competition Tracker.
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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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There’s still time to sign up for the inaugural New England CMP Games, held September 14-18, 2016, in Jericho, Vermont. Similar to the Eastern, Western, and Oklahoma CMP Travel Games, the New England Games will take place at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site and is hosted by the Vermont State Rifle and Pistol Association, along with the Burlington Rifle and Pistol Club. CMP Sales will be held at the Games, and on-site barracks accommodation is available.
The 2016 CMP New England Games will begin with Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) and the M16 Match. The event will feature Garand/Springfield/Vintage Military matches and the Modern Military match. Other matches include an EIC Rifle Match, Carbine Match, a Rimfire Sporter Match and the popular Vintage Sniper Match. There will be five pistol matches: CMP .22 Rimfire EIC Pistol Match, EIC Service Pistol Match, Pistol Team Match, Military & Police Pistol Match and CMP As-Issued 1911 Pistol Match.
The New England Games will feature CMP’s signature M1 Garand Match.
Along with the SAFS, a GSM New Shooter Clinic and Garand Maintenance Clinic will also be offered. SAFS training by qualified instructors is geared toward new shooters, so no previous firearm experience is required.
The CMP Sales Trailer will be on-site offering registered competitors a first chance at the CMP goodies on September 14th during the Competitor-Only Sales Event. The CMP will also offer rifle and ammo sales September 15-17 starting at noon each day. Housing will be available on post in the form of transient quarters with a shared bath as well as barracks with large open bays and smaller bays for small groups or families.
To register, visit the New England Games Page on the CMP website. For more info, call Christina Roguski at 419-635-2141 ext. 714, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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Don’t Be “That Guy” (The Bad Apple on the Firing Line)
By SFC Norman Anderson, USAMU Service Rifle Team Member
You know the guy, he’s still talking at the coffee jug when his preparation period begins, then his magazines aren’t loaded when the command “STAND” is given, and finally, he doesn’t know the rules when he argues with the block officer as his target comes up marked “9 and No”. Although this guy might be the highlight of the “after match” activities, he is the proverbial bad apple on the firing line. With this example fresh in your mind, let’s go over how not to be “that guy”.
While the sport of High Power shooting is a hobby for most, all are passionate about performance throughout the day. In order to achieve your maximum performance each and every day, it is essential that you conduct yourself as a professional competitor. As a competitor, you have a personal responsibility to know the course of fire as well as the rules and procedures that apply to it and to be prepared to follow them. Knowing this will not only make you a better competitor, but it will enable you to resolve situations with other targets besides your own. So what does all this mean? I’ll explain…
Know the Course of Fire
Know the course of fire. It sounds easy enough, as we all shoot plenty of matches, but it’s more than that. If you think about it, how many people in the pits, for example, do not really know what is happening on the firing line? This leads to targets being pulled early during a rapid fire string or missing a shot during a slow fire string. In cases like this, the result is the same, delays in the match and upset competitors. To avoid being “that guy,” it is imperative that you stay tuned to the events as the day progresses. When you are at the range shooting a match, be at the range shooting the match.
At any firearms competition — be sure you know (and understand) the course of fire.
Know the Rules
Now, let’s discuss rules. As you have probably heard more than once, the rulebook is your best friend. Here is why. I can virtually guarantee that most competitors know some of the rules based only on the old “this is how we do it at home” adage. The funny part of that is, the same green NRA rulebook and orange CMP rulebooks are used to govern High Power matches all over the country.*
It is vital that all shooters be familiar with the rules as they are written, not with “how they are applied at home”. This creates consistency and continuity in how matches are conducted, from local club matches to state tournaments to National Championships. Knowledge is power when it comes to scoring targets under contention, what to do in the case of a malfunction, or even how to file a protest correctly. These rules are in place for a reason and it benefits everyone to both know and operate by these rules.
Maintain Composure and Humility — Exhibit Good Sportsmanship
One aspect of competing that cannot be forgotten is bearing. As I mentioned earlier, you must be prepared for both good and bad to happen. All too often we all see “that guy” (or that “that guy’s” gear) flying off of the firing line in disgust. Remember that we all must maintain our composure and humility in all conditions, not matter what happens. After all, it’s just a game. To put it into perspective, if it were easy, attendance would be a lot higher. Sportsmanship must be displayed in an effort to keep from ruining the day for all those around you. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, and smiling never killed anyone. So turn that frown upside down and keep on marching, better days will come.
Like a Boy Scout — Always Be Prepared
Lastly, I would like to cover preparedness. Being prepared goes beyond simply having your magazines loaded and a zero on your rifle. It means approaching the firing line, knowing what you are about to do, being ready for what is going to happen (good or bad), and being ready for the results. If you approach the firing line to merely shoot 10 shots standing in your next LEG match, you are not going to be pleased with the result. You must be prepared mentally and physically, not only for the next stage, but also the next shot. By being prepared physically (equipment ready), you give yourself peace of mind which is an essential part of being prepared mentally, and by being prepared mentally, you are less likely to become distracted and are more likely to maintain focus for each and every shot.
Conclusion — Informed Competitors Make for Better Matches
The culmination of these efforts results in a shooter that knows how to be ready for success on the range, but also and perhaps more importantly, a shooter who knows what it means to be a competitor. When you have a range full of competitors who know and follow the rules and proper match procedures, the match runs smoothly, everyone shoots well, and a good time is had by all. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?
* After this article was originally written, the CMP separated its rules into two different Rulebooks:
The 2016 4th Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Matches governs all CMP-sanctioned matches for As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol events including Special EIC Matches that are fired with As-Issued Military Rifles or Pistols.
The 2016 20th Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for Service Rifle and Service Pistol governs sponsored and sanctioned matches for Service Rifle, Service Pistol and .22 Rimfire Pistol events, including National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches, Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) matches and other CMP-sanctioned competitions.
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.
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.”
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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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 Talladega Marksmanship Park boasts Kongsberg electronic targets at 200, 300, and 600 Yards.
The CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park — the most impressive (and high-tech) shooting facility in North America, will be featured on this week’s episode of Shooting USA television. The show tours the Talladega facility and spotlights Talladega’s first-ever competition, the inaugural D-Day Memorial match last year. (Talladega recently held its second D-Day match on June 4-5, 2016).
Shooting USA Television Air Times (Wednesday/Thursday) on the Outdoor Channel:
Eastern Time: 9:00 PM, 12:30 AM, 3:00 AM (Th)
Central Time: 8:00 PM, 11:30 PM, 2:00 AM (Th)
John C. Garand Match — Part of D-Day Memorial Event
Talladega is known for NASCAR and its super-speedway, but now there is another destination for sports enthusiasts, thanks to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). Congress created the CMP in 1903 with an original mission to promote civilian marksmanship, but in its 110-year history, the CMP never had its own range. So, the organization built the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park, a $20 million sports facility, one of the most advanced shooting sports facilities in the world.
“You won’t find another place like this in the United States, and I think in most of the world,” says Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama. “You know, I brag on the Talladega 500 all the time, being the fastest NASCAR track, and now I’ll be able to brag about having the best, if not the most world-class marksmanship facilities in the world here in the same neck of the woods.”
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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.