BY SHERI TRUSTY, CMP FEATURE WRITER
Each summer, competitors from around the country travel to Camp Perry in Port Clinton for the National Matches, which are open to the public. But many people don’t realize that marksmen of any skill level are welcome to shoot at the innovative Petrarca Range there, and the National Matches.
Located on the grounds of Camp Perry, the Petrarca Range is a covered range open on Mondays to the public and features electronic targets equipped with the most innovative technology on the market.
“Petrarca Range is for civilians to learn, to practice, and to have fun,” said Petrarca Chief Range Officer Mike Conrad.
Petrarca Range shooting stations are positioned at the edge of bay doors which open to give individuals access to the range’s 10 electronic rifle targets. The targets feature Kongsberg Target System (KTS) technology which relies on acoustics to determine shot location. Scoring is instantly displayed on user-friendly, touch screen monitors at your side.
“There are microphones in each corner of the target. The microphones pick up the sound and triangulate where the shot is,” Conrad said. “There are no scoring rings. This eliminates the need for someone with a spotting scope.”
The KTS technology-enhanced target system is one reason Jim Sherman travels over an hour from his suburban Cleveland home several times a month to shoot at Petrarca.
“It’s nice because scoring is really fast and very easy. You just look at the monitor. That’s important because I shoot from all positions, and I don’t want to get out of position to look at my score,” Sherman said. “You’re not sending someone down to the pit to constantly change targets, and you’re not dependent on a spotter. Depending on a spotter makes shooting more complex, and Petrarca takes all that away.”
Philip Edwards of nearby Marblehead learned to shoot while serving in the Vietnam War, but his wife, Joyce Edwards, was new to guns when they began shooting air rifles at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center next door to Petrarca. Joyce took to air rifles instantly but was hesitant to move on to bigger guns at Petrarca. That soon changed.
“I could tell when she took her first shot at Petrarca with her .22 that she was hooked,” Philip said.
Joyce shoots with enough precision, Philip said, “to shoot a golf ball at 100 yards all day long.” Within the comfort of the Petrarca Range, Joyce quickly transformed from a timid competitor to a medal winner. Philip and Joyce began shooting at Petrarca in 2017, and in 2019, they won gold and silver medals respectively in smallbore bench at the National Matches.
“We’ve been so blessed with the staff at Petrarca. They are so amazing, so nice, and so accommodating. They understand that shooting is a new thing for some people,” Joyce said.
But the range is just as suitable for seasoned marksman like Philip. The range offers some protection from the elements while simultaneously exposing marksmen to the difficulties they present.
“I like the range because it’s a challenge. Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes it’s snowing, and sometimes it’s windy. It’s a challenge because it’s never consistent,” Philip said. “You have to figure out how to shoot in any circumstance.”
The CMP will host a M1 Garand, Springfield, Vintage Military & Modern Military (GSMM) Match on Saturday, June 24, with the first relays beginning at 9 a.m. The competition is open to the public.
Cost for one GSMM match is $40 for adults and $30 for juniors. Two matches cost $70 for adults and $50 for juniors. Three matches cost $100 for adults and $70 for juniors. CMP Achievement Pins will be awarded to winners.
The GSMM Match will be governed by CMP competition rules which can be found at http://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-competitions-rulebooks/. For more information on the match, call CMP Competitions at 419-635-2141, ext. 714, or visit https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&match=24146.
“The GSMM Match is like the big range match but scaled down. They’ll shoot from all three positions (prone, prone from standing and standing),” Conrad said.
Petrarca Range is open to the public on most Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but individuals should check the schedule before traveling to Camp Perry. The range will be open on various days/times during the National Matches in July and August. In addition to the electronic rifle targets, the range also offers cardboard pistol targets. Range fee is $10 per hour or $25 for three hours. Only ammo no larger than .30-06 can be fired on the range.
Sherman is grateful to have access to the KTS technology-enhanced electronic targets. “A lot of ranges are switching to these targets. It’s the wave of the future,” Sherman said. “It’s a great time-saver. As a marksman, it’s wonderful to have instant feedback. It’s worth the hour and a quarter drive.”
Philip and Joyce said it is not just the technology and challenge of the range that bring them to Petrarca several times a month. They also come for the camaraderie.
“It’s more than shooting,” Philip said. “It’s about visiting with friends. We talk about shooting and current events and just all kinds of things.”
For more information on Petrarca Range, call Mike Conrad at 419-635-2141, ext. 753 or visit https://thecmp.org/ranges/cmp-targets-at-petrarca-range/.