LTG John S. Crosby, U.S. Army (ret), firing the First Shot
Shooters and instructors at the first event, the Pistol Small Arms Firing School
The skies cleared for the First Shot ceremony beginning the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry on Monday, the sun reflecting off the brass of the instruments of the National Guard band and the metals and epaulets of dignitaries gathered for the “World Series of Shooting Sports.” For the next five weeks nearly 6,000 shooters, plus over 500 volunteers, exhibitors and spectators from around the country will be traveling to the historic camp on the shores of Lake Erie west of Port Clinton.
At the breakfast preceding the First Shot, National Rifle Association (NRA) national president James Porter welcomed all and reminisced about spending summers at Camp Perry. Porter’s father competed in the matches until he was 75. The matches are co-sponsored by the NRA, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) and the Ohio National Guard, and have been held at Camp Perry since 1907. The CMP estimates that $12-14 million is spent in Northern Ohio annually by Camp Perry visitors on entry fees, match expenses, housing, meals, travel and shopping.
At the Rodriquez Range, in homage to the long history of the matches, Port Clinton’s Liberty Aviation Museum’s B-25 Yankee Lady made several passes overhead. Restored World War II military vehicles delivered the U.S. flag to Vietnam veterans and on to re-enactors dressed in World War II uniforms who then raised the flag as the National Guard band played the national anthem.
Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor addressed the crowd and talked of the improvements that are being made at Camp Perry, including replacement of old cabins and upgrading and modernization of the firing ranges.
The First Shot of the matches was fired by LTG John S. Crosby, U.S. Army (ret), who was then presented with the rifle.
At the home of the largest outdoor shooting range in the world, shooters were lining up to begin the first event of the matches. The Pistol Small Arms Firing School provided an opportunity for beginner and novice shooters to work one-on-one with an instructor.
Though the National Matches bring local and national attention to the Camp Perry firing ranges, the ranges are busy more than 360 days, a total of 200,000 man-days of training by National Guard, law enforcement and civilian shooters in 2012.
In a building on Commercial Row, the NRA trophies are housed and exhibited. The trophies, for pistol, small bore and rifle, are permanent trophies, many worth thousands of dollars, archived and maintained by the NRA. The CMP trophies are displayed at their headquarters on the grounds.
Steve Cooper of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) shared that in 2015 the World Rifle Championship will be held at Camp Perry. It is anticipated that 25 countries will be sending teams for the international competition. In preparation and practice for 2015, the schedule for the 2014 National Rifle and Pistol Matches will be adjusted.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, go to www.odcmp.com/NM.