Going Distinguished At Camp Perry!

In 2015 a earned my first 4 “Introductory Leg Points” during small arms firing school at Camp Perry. Four years, and thousands of rounds down range later I’ve completed my journey to become a Distinguished Rifleman on the very same range I found my first points.

If you are not familiar with the Distinguished Rifleman badge you can find more information here: http://thecmp.org/competitions/distinguishedbadges/.

To earn a Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge one must earn 30 “leg” points by competing in CMP sanctioned excellence in competition (EIC) matches and scoring in the top 10%. Competitors are limited to 5 matches a year along with the National Trophy Match at camp Perry.

I ended last season with 26 points, which included a “Hard Leg” so “all I needed” was to cut any points. Which I knew was easier said than done. I shot the All Navy Matches at Quantico in the spring posting a 481, a good score, but not even good enough for first leather! The cut went for 486!

Anyway I decided to give the KTS Targets another chance and drove out to Perry to shoot a double-header 800 agg and EIC. I have had some “not so great” experiences with KTS Targets, including the last time o drove to Perry for this June EIC Match. I was a little hesitant to shoot a leg match on KTS again but in the end I’m glad I did.

The 800 agg went well we had some connection issues and a delay at 200 but it was nice to take a little break.

The leg match started off terrible for me. I lost focus half way though off hand and broke a 6 on the approach. Then decided to get mad about it and shoot another 6. Good times.

I shook it off, which was easy as it was not nearly the first time I threw a leg match off hand. I stuck with it and I took my in sitting for a 99, I cleaned rapid prone, which is a fairly rare occasion for me, and squeezed out a 196 at 600. I am sure my sigh was audible from Canada when my last shot came up an X!

From the rubble of my terrible first string I was able to pull a 480-19 which was good enough for 7th of the 8 legs given out that day! I was in shock for a while afterwards, after the high cut at fleet week I didn’t want to get “too sure” until the numbers were official. But after the dust settled it turned out both myself and one of my buddies who came out with me legged out on Viale!

It was a long but great day! It felt good to leg out at Camp Perry which is a special place to a lot of shooters. As much trouble as they have given me over the years never thought I’d be saying I legged out on KTS Targets!

It’s been a long road to Distinguished. My wife asked me “what will you do now can you leg back in?” Keep shooting that’s what I’ll do!

First Clean 600!

I cleaned the 600 yard stage of an 800 agg at my home range at New Holland this weekend. This was the second match of a 1600 agg, I had beat my personal best the day before with a 199 at 600.

I’m quite proud of this as I struggled with my prone for most of last season. After some frustration I completely broke my position down and started over a few months ago. I now “choke up” on the stock and put the rifle higher on my shoulder, I also have tightened the sling.

Perhaps ironically I seem to shoot slow prone better when there is a bit of wind to deal with. My theory is it gives me something to worry about that’s not “don’t screw up”

SMT Solo Electronic Target: 21st century practice

I ordered a Silver Mountain Targets SOLO Target in June of 2018 and I haven’t broken it…. anyone who knows me knows that is amazing alone (I once broke a 50 lbs bench vise) mine was from the first pre-order  batch in May. It shipped out as soon as it was in stock within a week of my order. I’ve ordered some mounts and accessories since then that all shipped same day.

I really really like this thing. I bought it mostly to practice 600. I’m a member at New Holland Rifle And Pistol and live just 20 minutes away. However, it was a struggle to get any useful practice at 600, or 300 for that matter as it involved driving down range, scratching my head and trying to guess if it was me or the wind or something.

Of course it makes 600 practice more useful, and even fun, it also turns out to be useful for short range practice. This has turned into a real practice time saver which helps me get more trigger time. I can quickly burn through 100 rounds practicing each stage of fire at 100 yards. No more going down range between stages, or guessing where the shots I can’t see with my Kowa went. I can shoot off hand, reset the target, drop into sitting, Reset the target, drop into rapid prone and so on.

I ended up with 2 target frames, one for short line that I hang from the club targets, and the second is a full 6×6 I keep in the pits for 600. I have the calibration for both written in my data book so its easy to switch between them. A frame just needs calibrated once, after that as long as the target is in the middle it will work for anything.

I’ve tested in in the rain, in rapid fire and side by side with other solos and haven’t had any issues.

The SOLO has 8 Mics in 4 towers. I have inadvertently tested it with one sensor (2 mics) unplugged and 1 mic off line (I didn’t plug the cable in all the way) while the target gave a warning, but, in both cases it still accurately found the shot. It will be more accurate if the target is plumb, again by accident I tested it with the target leaning forward significantly but even then it was only off 1/4 inch only the two 8s I managed to shoot at 600. Presumably a non issue if used for a match as the target would be plumb not haphazardly set up like mine was.

Anyway I  wholeheartedly endorse the solo for practice from 100 to 600 yards. I think it could be used as is for smaller matches, something i didn’t think I would ever say of an open system, as I’ve become a bit of a HEX fanboy after using them at Bridgeville.

I went with the SMT SOLO over the home based business alternatives, largely because SMT has been around for awhile, some day I will shoot a mic or need replacement parts.

There are some other little things I like, that it gives me FPS, so I can’t blame the load, Cat 5e Ethernet cables for the sensors make it easy to build multiple frames with pre-installed cables, cheap mounts, and good wifi that reaches to 600 with no issue. As a nerd I like that it has both the simple to use solo interface and the full G2 software as well.

Posted in XTC

A new tradition? NRA Championships at Camp Atterbury

Guest post submitted by Marty Dabney about his experiences at the NRA National Championships . 

It’s no secret that High Power shooters are what most would call “salt of the earth” people. We will lend a helping hand, loan you gear and give you bad wind calls with the greatest of intentions. We are also traditionalist. We compete for the same trophies our grandparents competed for. The Daniel Boone, Nathan Hale and Alice Bull just to name a few. But no trophy is greater than the place where you go to win them, Camp Perry.

There is no doubt when you ask someone if they are going to “The Nationals”, they  are really asking if they are going to Perry. This is the where thousands of shooter from all walks of life and skill level from all across the world come together once a year to partake in the tradition of staying in little white huts, cooking out, walking commercial row and occasionally compete in a rifle match. You can be a brand new shooter and by the grace of random squadding, end up shooting with past National Champions. It’s also a place of unpredictable weather, high winds and is prone to having a boat drift into the impact area and shut down the range. The Nationals have been held at Camp Perry long before anyone reading this was born.  It seemed this would go on forever, but one day, it didn’t.

In 2017, the NRA made the decision to leave Camp Perry and move their National Championships to Camp Atterbury. It was no surprise that many shooters were upset about the move. How could they do this? What was the reasoning? Many people felt that all tradition was lost, but was it? The NRA still has the same trophies they’ve always had, the Wimbledon, the Sierra and the trophy that most intrigues me, the Erdman trophy. So why did competitors scoff at the idea of a change in venue? Because we are traditionalist. We now have to come to the realization that our Nationals won’t be held on hallowed ground,  but some National Guard base in the middle of Indiana. When i think of Indiana, I think of Steers and ……corn, lots and lots of corn. Is this the end of our National Championship as we know it, or is this the beginning of something great?

On July 18th, 2017, I walked off the line of the NTI match as a newly Distinguished Rifleman. I had also earned 3 President 100 medals as well as various other State and Regional championships. The Service rifle treated me well so in good fashion and questionable judgment, I abandon the very rifle that treated me so well and switch to a match rifle, a stupid, stupid match rifle. I could now use an unlimited power optic, a lighter trigger, more adjustable stock and just about any caliber i wanted. The only issue is I now had to abandon Camp Perry and go to Camp Atterbury if I wanted to compete in a National Championship. So I packed up my gear and a suitcase that may or may not have had enough extra  pants and headed west to Indiana.

After a short 9 hour ride, I pulled in the front gate. I was greeted by a guard who checked my license. Being an active training instillation, this was needed each time i entered the gates. I was staying  on base so i checked in at the housing office and headed to my room. The rooms were very nice. We had our own individual rooms similar to a motel. They were furnished with a bed, microwave, mini refrigerator, full bathroom and air conditioning.

The following day, I met up with my team to compete in the 4 man team match. We had a break from the extreme heat and humidity that we had the prior week so we were already off to a good start. while hauling my gear to the 200 yard line, I noticed how well the range was maintained. The grass on the firing lines had been mowed, and for those who have competed on other Military bases, knows this can be hit or miss sometimes. One of the concerns from the year before was the number boards were too small. The NRA worked to correct this issue and installed larger boards. After my firing was complete, it was my turn to work the pits for the rest of the team. Another concern from the previous year were the target carriers were hard to operate. This issue had also been resolved as well. The carriers worked well. We finished up the team match in good time and I headed back to my room. The evening was spent sitting outside grilling with my friends that i hadn’t seen in a year. Hmm, this feels oddly familiar.

On Sunday morning, we made our way back down range for the first day of the 2400 Aggregate individual match. This is a four day match firing 60 shots per day. After the four days, the total scores are added up to determine an overall winner. Once I finished shooting, I made my way back to the pits. This is where we encountered several problems. There were communication issues, both with the portable speakers and with the radios that were used by the pit and firing line officials. This caused confusion with pit changes, alibis and the commands to start. Needless to say, this caused frustration but we made due.

On Tuesday, the heat had started to build . By mid day, it became apparent that this would be as much of an endurance match as it was  a shooting match. Thankfully, Bartlein Barrels provided us with a good supply of Gatorade and water. None of us were too proud to turn it down. After we finished with the 600 yard slow fire match, we were provided with air conditioned vans to transport us to the pits. This gave a welcome relief if only for a short time. Once again, we experienced communication issues and at one point, range control put us in a “check fire”. This is where the National Guard  stops us for various reasons like people in the impact area or incoming aircraft. This is a very active facility so it happens. It would almost be like having a boat go where it wasn’t supposed to and cause delays.

Wednesday and Thursday ran very well. The heat and humidity slowly made its way out and nicer weather took its place. The communication issues were addressed and we were off of the range by early afternoon.

The awards ceremony was held on Thursday evening at the Camp Atterbury conference center. I showered and threw on my cleanest dirty pants and headed over.  Walking into the building gave a feel of walking into a large hunting lodge. It was a place that seemed worthy of a Championship awards ceremony. The NRA had the ceremony catered with chicken, barbeque and the works. We all fixed a plate and for the next hour, sat and watched as our friends were called up to receive their awards. Those same, time honored awards that were given at Camp Perry.

The final evening was spent sitting outside our rooms congratulating our friends who did well, giving a hard time to those who didn’t, but laughing the entire time. Right before we turned in for the evening, a sort of sad silence came over our group. Our time together had come to an end. For many of us, we knew we wouldn’t see each other for another year, possibly ever. Sometimes life gets in the way and we move on from things that we once held dear. Priorities change and in the worse case, we lose someone forever. In that moment, we weren’t worried about where the Nationals were going to be held. We all left with a smile thinking about doing it all over next year.

So, another National Championship is in the books. Was this the “Perry experience” that we’ve grown accustomed to? Maybe not, but could this be the start of a new tradition? Definitely, but it’s up to us to support it. I plan on returning in 2019 to give the Erdman another go and I encourage anyone on the fence to give it a chance. We have the opportunity to make it something great for our future generation.

Some notable accomplishments –

SFC Brandon Greene overall winner 2394-147X

SGT Ben Cleland overall Service rifle winner 2386-128X. SGT Cleland also won the Erdman trophy with an impressive 599-28X only dropping 1 point on his last day.

Konrad Powers overall civilian Service Rifle winner 2372-109X

SSG Amanda Elsenboss high woman 2382-113X

Hugo Adelson high senior 2362-100X

Marty Dabney fired 10 9’s in offhand and didn’t win the Erdman

Editors note: Marty’s views on Camp Atterberry may not reflect those of “Garand Thumb Blog” who is still a little grumpy about the split but prefers NRA format matches.