Championships mark 100 years at Camp Perry

PORT CLINTON Much like their predecessors a century ago, men and women took aim at targets Thursday
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

Much like their predecessors a century ago, men and women took aim at targets Thursday at the Camp Perry shooting range.

Neil Kravitz, 58, of Boring, Md., has competed in shooting matches for more than 20 years, but saved his first trip to Camp Perry for the 100th anniversary of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches.

"I'm having a wonderful time. My goal was to shoot at Camp Perry," said Kravitz, a former Army major. "This is something you aspire to do."

Camp Perry has hosted the event since 1907, when Brigadier General Ammon B. Critchfield -- who later became president of the National Rifle Association -- moved the matches from New Jersey to the 640-acre military training center.

"Camp Perry has really had the same mission for a hundred years: marksmanship," said Col. James H. Chisman, Ohio Army National Guard commander of the camp. "Marksmanship training is our primary reason. The National Matches support that and help us to improve our facilities and ranges. That's how this thing comes together."

The annual competition operates as a partnership among the NRA, Civilian Marksmanship Program and the Ohio National Guard.

"This partnership has held together for 100 years, and we have every expectation to continue this for another 100 years," said NRA President John Sigler. "I just can't say enough about the overall atmosphere at Camp Perry. This is a very exciting and important event."

Sigler, a conventional pistol competitor in the '70s and '80s, competed at Camp Perry and is intimately familiar with the intense atmosphere surrounding what many consider the World Series of shooting competitions.

"He/she who wins will be a highly disciplined competitor who has eyesight off the charts and self discipline that is remarkable," Sigler said. "The championship-caliber shooters are -- in their own right -- athletes in the truest form."

The six-week event brings more than 6,000 shooters from each of the 50 states, as well as outside the U.S.

Heather Deppe, 16, of San Antonio, Texas, took up competitive shooting when she was 10 years old.

"My dad was very supportive. He wanted to teach me gun safety and hunters' education," Deppe said. "I just ate it up."

Deppe competed for the Junior National Pistol Trophy Thursday and plans to come back next year for her fifth trip to Camp Perry.

"The camaraderie is amazing. It's nice to come here and be with people who love to be here shooting," Deppe said.

The competition features the pistol championships, smallbore rifle position and prone matches, and the high-power and long-range rifle championships.

The newest addition to the event is the NRA/Springfield Armory M1A Match Aug. 5. The M1A, a high-power rifle, is considered a "nostalgic" match.

"The M1A match harkens back to the days before Vietnam," Sigler said. "We're trying to bring back nostalgia matches. We''re always looking for new programs."

The competition will have its closing ceremony Aug. 14.