Shooters compete for marksmanship honors

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Port Clinton Camp Perry is alive and well. It’s media day and opening day for this summer’s annual National Matches, the Super Bowl of rifle and pistol shooting. And it’s a good media day because it isn’t just about seeing what others are doing.

A bunch of us are hunched over our rifles and going at it like, well like hundreds of other competitors here to compete for national marksmanship honors. But unlike those who are lined up outdoors shooting stuff that goes bang, we are probably more skilled with pen and paper than sniper rifles.

But we, like the others, want to win, to be top gun. We are shooting tiny targets with air guns and it’s tough. The indoor air gun range here is awesome as in state of the art and then some. Eighty stations in all and targets that let you know in one instant where each shot landed.

There’s no human judgment involved here and there’s no partiality, just good shooting.

High scores

According to Steve Cooper, marketing manager for the Civilian Marksmanship Program which operates this facility, the nation’s top air gun shooters score so high that it’s like piling one pellet on top of the other.

In fact, this year’s Olympic air gun team was recently named after shooting at these same targets, from these same stations, in this same building.

I’m shooting a Daisy Sporter while my neighbors cradle some higher end rifles. Their guns use highly compressed air and have goofy looking stocks that appear more like machinery than rifles. My gun cranks pellets out in front of CO2 charges and costs about of theirs.

As always luck wins over skill and I wear my gold medal proudly. After the experience I am convinced that every serious shooter ought to be practicing year around with a quality air gun.

Program

The Civilian Marksmanship Program, founded in 1903, continues into its second century a strong and vibrant national organization, just as President Theodore Roosevelt envisioned when he encouraged congress to adopt it.

Roosevelt felt strongly that a national marksmanship program that encouraged responsible gun ownership and good shooting skills would be an asset to national defense. He was correct in thought and action as the CMP fell under federal oversight and management by the U. S. Army.

In fact, the CMP was a civilian extension of the Army until 1996 when it became a free standing, non-profit organization with specific goals and a well-defined mission.

You’ve got to hand it to Teddy, bully good sportsman that he was, because he did more than any other individual in U.S. history to conserve, protect, and grow the nation’s outdoor treasures. By creating the CMP, Roosevelt guaranteed that our nation would be best protected by more than our military.

He saw the CMP as an important tool in providing Joe, Jill and the kids the ability to shoot straight.

Mission

The mission of the CMP says it all: To instruct citizens of the U. S. in marksmanship and to give priority to activities that benefit firearms safety, training, and competition to youth.

In practice, the CMP, along with the NRA, is the leading provider of shooting safety and skills to thousands of youth every day, every week, and every year through an extensive field of trained instructors and events.

The CMP touches nearly every imaginable venue when it comes to reaching youngsters including junior ROTC, 4-H, scouts, gun clubs and youth camps. The National Matches is held annually at Camp Perry putting the CMP center stage as thousands of shooters from around the globe converge to test their skills.

And although Camp Perry, on 640 acres of Lake Erie shoreline, features the longest firing line in the world, some 2000 yards long with targets ranging to one thousand meters distant, much of the shooting is on a smaller scale just like the air gun events.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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