Headline: Camp Perry is on target with national shooters

The News-Herald of Willoughby, OH has published an excellent article on the World Series of shooting sports that occurs here in the Buckeye State each and every summer.

From the article:

The light popping sound was coming from slow-moving lead projectiles released from their brass prisons and sent sailing down steel tubes.

Looking at the long row of nearly 200 rimfire shooters indicated each person on this relay was engrossed in the paper targets set 50 meters away.

To heck with a pesky reporter snooping around, trying to find out why a person is so willing to dress up in tight-fitting leather jackets that overlay skin-gripping synthetic undergarments designed to "wick away" moisture.

All in 90-degree heat.

Yet young, old, civilian, military, men, women and kids all flock to the shores of Lake Erie for five weeks each summer.

There they participate in a lengthy series of shooting events that range from pistols to small-bore rifles to high-power rifles of all kinds, shapes and sizes.

Targets are arranged from up close and personal all the way out to 1,000 yards, seemingly too far for those of us with aged eyes that have difficulty seeing the sunset, much less cap out over the shores of Lake Erie's Western Basin.

These are the National Rifle and Pistol Matches, a vital component of the National Rifle Association, an organization the general public all-too-often mistakes as being concerned only about Second Amendment rights.

Cooperating with the NRA is the quasi-governmental Civilian Marksmanship Program that is designed to foster small-arms training by civilians, partially through an aggressive competitive format that culminates with the National Matches.

While the right to keep and bear arms is a vital mission component of the NRA, so is the opportunity to help improve the public's shooting skills and promote the gun sports among like-minded individuals.

Nowhere does this all come together any better than at Camp Perry, located west of Port Clinton. The camp is a slice of the Ohio National Guard.

The article goes on to document that the shooters come from all over the United States and several foreign countries (and yet most gun owners from Ohio haven't made it!), and provides quotes from John Harper of Phoenix, a chaperone for a group of 12- to 20-year-old shooters.

Often called the "World Series of the Shooting Sports," the National Matches have been held at Camp Perry since 1907 and now are divided into five segments. Within those segments are various games.

Today begins the high-power phase, while last week saw such specialized contests as those just for the M1 Garand, the M1 carbine, vintage military sniper rifles and Springfield bolt-action rifles.

"The National Championships at Camp Perry are the high point of the year for many competitive shooters, along with the NRA, the CMP and the many volunteers who work to make the games the success that they are each summer," said NRA president David Keene.

Keene noted this year the camp has seen improved facilities — a note shooters have long awaited for years since they were billeted in little more than shacks that once were used to house German prisoners of war during World War II.

Much of that has changed, as now shooters can focus on scores and not have to worry about how to stay cool at night.

As for the impact of the matches on the Port Clinton-Oak Harbor area economy, the shooting sports are something to praise and not condemn as violent behavior, according to the region's tourism officials.

Larry Fletcher, executive director of the Ottawa County-Lake Erie Islands Visitors and Convention Bureau, said the matches bring in millions of dollars to the local economy.

"While someone is shooting, the rest of the family is visiting Cedar Point, one of our beaches, wineries or other attractions," Fletcher said. "And they also will go off Camp Perry to eat a dinner, so the matches are very much a welcome part of our community."

The 2011 closing ceremonies are being held today.

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