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Shooter gets a bang out of National Matches at Camp Perry
by Jeff Thomas
CAMP PERRY – As the National Matches at Camp Perry wind down and shooters leave after another successful year, it goes without saying it was one heck of a fun time.
But isn't it always?
I don't know about you, but the National Matches in High Power rifle shooting at Camp Perry is one of my favorite places in the world to be in late July and early August. It goes without saying I love to shoot but there's so much more to the National Matches. It's the Holy Grail of rifle shooting competition.
The National Matches allow anyone to shoot and sometimes average shooters like me get to meet or be squadded with the best shooters in the world. It's always amazing to see someone shoot nearly all 10s in offhand (standing and shooting from 200 yards away for those of you unfamiliar with High Power). If I can hold the "8 ring," I'm happy.
My personal favorite when it comes to High Power is the 600-yard slow fire. It amazes me to this day that I, or anyone, can take a .22-cal., 80-grain bullet and hit a target more than one-third of a mile away using only iron sights, and do so with great accuracy. Heck, the best place all their shots in a 12-inch circle. Amazing!
At Camp Perry, you see shooters of all ages and all skill levels. There are also shooters from all over the world competing. This year I met several from Australia who borrowed AR15 National Match rifles to shoot since they are not allowed to own such rifles in their homeland. These men traveled 16 hours by plane to the United States and another four hours by plane to Ohio. They had thousands of dollars in expenses just to shoot at Camp Perry. That's dedication.
I also met a group from California who are allowed to own AR-15 rifles but the magazine release requires a sharp point to push the center in to release the magazine, instead of pushing the button only with your finger. California shooters are only allowed to have 10-round magazines.
To me, anyone from Ohio who has a chance to shoot at the National Matches and finds an excuse not to should question whether they truly are a shooter or else beg their significant other for one week away from the family.
I can't think of anything more relaxing and fun than getting up at 5 a.m. to eventually walk 400 to 800 yards down a range toting all the equipment needed for High Power, and placing bullets into a target standing, sitting and prone. Sure, pulling targets in the pits is the pits, but that's part of the sport.
If shooting in a match isn't enticing enough, commercial row is. Commercial row is where all the venders set up and sell the latest and greatest equipment for High Power shooting, as well as service rifle and brown rifle equipment. It's a shooter's candy story.
Commercial Row is Christmas in July. It's easy to drop $1,000 at the blink of an eye. I save the whole year just to buy what I absolutely must have for the next year and a few things that are cool, too.
While the National Matches are not quite over, there are a few matches left including the long-range competition which is a showcase for the best long-distance shooters in the world. These shooters go for all the glory on a 1,000-yard course. You wouldn't believe how far 1,000 yards is until you stare down range at a target that far away.
The long-range course offers matches with open sights and scopes. The best shooters put most of their shots in a 20-inch circle. It's truly an amazing event to watch, and one that should be on everyone's bucket list.
If you don't make it this year, I'll see you there next year. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Jeff Thomas is a concealed carry instructor, NRA certified firearms instructor and a competitive shooter.