BY ASHLEY DUGAN, CMP WRITER
Join the festivities and fun on Monday, July 10, as the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) hosts the First Shot Ceremony of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches on the Camp Perry National Guard Training Facility’s Memorial Plaza in front of Rodriguez Range.
Seating is open to everyone prior to 4 p.m., when aircraft flyovers and pyrotechnics commence. Ceremony opening remarks begin at 4:30 p.m.
The First Shot Ceremony is open to the public and children are welcome to attend the kickoff the 2023 National Matches. The ceremony is the beginning of a two-month-long schedule of rifle and pistol competition that has featured the best marksmen and women at Camp Perry since 1907. CMP Chairman and CEO Gerald O’Keefe will address the First Shot assembly as one of the highlights of the day.
Scheduled activities also include a flyover from a WWII B-25 bomber, Georgie’s Gal, courtesy of Port Clinton’s Liberty Aviation Museum. The aircraft will make passes above the grandstands before the start of the festivities, followed in formation by a WWII Navy TBM Avenger fighter-bomber.
Pyrotechnic displays, provided by cannonmaster Bob Gillmor, of Old Fort, Ohio, will simulate explosions on the ranges below as the aircraft pass prior to opening remarks. Those sensitive to loud noises are encouraged to bring hearing protection.
The 2023 First Shot speaker will be U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Green, who will fire the traditional first shot down range to officially open the National Matches. Green will use Gary Anderson’s M70 bolt-action rifle used to set the 200-yard standing record match in the 1971 National Matches.
Green holds the national record in the National Matches President’s Rifle Match by cleaning the course of fire with a perfect score – something no other person has accomplished since the match began in 1894. He was also the recipient of the Junior Distinguished Air Rifle Badge #1, with countless national-level achievements in both service rifle and long range rifle.
Anderson is Director of Civilian Marksmanship, Emeritus, and is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and international marksmanship champion. Anderson fired the same rifle to kick off the 2014 First Shot Ceremony.
This year’s color guard will be provided by the Zion-Benton High School Junior ROTC marksmanship team from Zion, Ill., supported by Ohio National Guard troops. The junior team will be directed by team coach Master Chief Dan Hackstein. Musical accompaniment will be provided by the Ohio National Guard’s 122nd Army Band.
Static military vehicle displays will also be available for viewing on the grounds, presented by Firelands Military Vehicle Club, as well as free antique car rides provided by the Timeless T’s Model T motor vehicle club of Erie County.
Ample parking is available near the grandstands. While on the grounds of Camp Perry, visitors are encouraged to check out Petrarca Range and the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center, only a short walk away from the ceremony site. Petrarca Range features outdoor electronically-scored rifle targets, while the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center features an indoor air gun facility and authentic Olympic memorabilia from the celebrated career of Anderson. Both are open for marksmanship practice to the public weekly, all year long.
For more information about the National Matches, visit https://thecmp.org/cmp-national-matches/.