Submitted by Don Weihl, 83, Swansea, Illinois
My favorite memory of Camp Perry is easy.
In 1966, I was on the line firing next to the Army Team when MSGT Ralph O. Thompson fired a 100 on the first .22 cal. pistol target. R.O. then fired another 100 on the second target, setting a National Record of 200×8. That is still unforgettable.
What I like the best about Camp Perry is also easy.
Each morning, the day begins with the roar of the cannon and colors. The National Anthem is played as the smoke clears and all stand at attention. Only first relay shooters are on the line, but many second and third relay shooters are there, as well as the match support community – all to observe the colors. Other matches begin with the National Anthem, but at Camp Perry, it is better.
There is no favorite match in bullseye shooting. At Camp Perry, you are there to compete against yourself and everybody else. You also compete against the elements, where a slight breeze can turn into a gale, while the grass beneath your feet turns into a muddy obstacle.
What have I learned on the firing line with other competitors over the years?
Everyone learns they are among friends. If there is a problem, the shooter next to you or the shooter next to him will help. If your pistol breaks, the back-up pistol of a nearby competitor will be offered quickly, and the match will proceed.
Advice for first time Camp Perry competitors?
Learn to concentrate on something unique to YOUR target. With so many targets so close together, cross-fires are common. Don’t let it be you.
The 1963 through 1967 years were the best.
There were more than 2,000 competitors each year. There were 600 targets – numbered 1 through 600, from left to right – across the ranges and grouped into six ranges, 100 targets wide. The matches ran like a well-oiled machine. There was a print shop on the base. All competitors could get a printed match report for each match, not too long after scores were in.
Most nights in those years, there were movies for the competitors and their families in the base theatre. The mess hall in those years served three meals a day to over 3,000 hungry mouths – every day.
Shooting at Camp Perry has been the experience of a lifetime.
About the National Matches at Camp Perry:
The National Trophy Pistol and Rifle Matches has been an honored tradition for generations – first firing on the grounds of Camp Perry, Ohio, in 1907. Conducted each year by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the National Matches schedule is a timeless lineup of rifle, pistol and air gun matches as well as educational classes and retail opportunities for seasoned and aspiring marksmanship enthusiasts.
Guests to the 2021 National Pistol Matches, held in July, will be able to choose from a number of exciting possibilities, including the chance to discover the fundamentals of pistol shooting with the help of some of today’s leading military marksmen and women at the Pistol Small Arms Firing School. There, participants join together in the classroom for instruction before heading out to the range for live firing and one-on-one match training.
The 2021 National Matches will also include an expanded schedule of pistol competitions, including a Center Fire Pistol 900 Aggregate, a .45 Pistol 900 Aggregate and a CMP Revolver Match. Through a dedication to traditional events of the past and the constant evolution toward the future of marksmanship, the CMP is committed to safeguarding Camp Perry’s status as the true Home of the National Matches.
To learn more about all of the scheduled events for the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s upcoming 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry, visit https://thecmp.org/competitions/matches/cmp-national-matches/. Registration will open April 1st.
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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