To kick off CMP’s beautiful new marksman park down in Talladega, they held an “Inaugural D-Day Match” for as-issued Garands only, limited to 350 participants. Coming off the high of doing well at The Eastern Games I signed up just days before they were sold out. A few weeks later, we were up before the crack of dawn with M1 Garands in tow headed towards the airport.
The CMP Marksmanship Park
Around lunch on Friday we arrived at the Marksmanship Park. Turns out it was closed for an invite only opening ceremony that just wrapping up. CMP was nice enough to let us in anyway to check it out. Holy cow this place is nice! I expected it to be “cool” but it is truly a world class shooting facility. It’s has the feel of a luxury ski resort that also has rifle ranges. The club house is large and beautiful, plenty of room to lounge around in the AC, and watch the targets from one of the many monitors.
There electronic target system is the center piece of the marksmanship park. I have used similar systems up at the Marksmanship Center at Camp Perry but that was only airguns. Shooting a M1 Garand at a electronic target and seeing the shot pop up on the screen is really cool.The park has several ranges that use the electronic target system. We spent most of our time at the at “Range 1”, a 54 firing point across the course range with 200, 300 and 600 yard targets. The firing points are covered which is particularly nice in the hot Alabama sun. The roof is high so there is adequate light to see your front sight yet it keeps the glare off the sight post. I know this seems a little odd to point out, but the covered firing points include proper bathrooms and water fountains, which are nice in a pinch.
The club house has a Creedmoor Sports pro shop which is great to have so close to the line. It takes some of the pressure off packing for the flight if you know you can get anything you need right there.
I bought a Ron Brown sling while I was there. The fella who rang me up told me about much he liked these slings and how he uses the same sling to shoot at Perry on all his rifles. I later put two and two together that he was Dennis Demille. Of course he was right about the Ron Brown sling. I tried it out on my A2 when I got home and it is a great sling. They have Creedmoor Jackets available to try on some with special “CMP Talladega Marksmanship park” patches on the back. The shop also had a nice selection of handguns, rifles (including CMP Garands), and what looks like most of the stuff in their catalog.
The Inaugural D-Day Match
On Saturday I shot in a the “Inaugural D-Day Match” which was an as issued Garand Match. I was a little late on the registration and was squaded in last relay, relay 7, at 3:00 PM. They were running a little behind early on but made most of it up by the time the relay 7 started. While it was the dead of heat in the afternoon in Alabama (around 90 degrees with high humidity) it was comfortable under the shaded firing points.
Warning: a lot of speculation about how I Could or Should have shot ahead.
At the time I was disappointed in my performance, however I have gotten past that. When it comes down to it I lost the mental game which cost me hitting the medal cut.
Slow Prone is where my problems started. I had some trouble in prep establishing my Natural Point of Aim. The targets seemed too high for some reason (they were not) and I settled on muscling the rifle up a bit. It turned out to be a big mistake. My slow prone string went from great to dropping eights towards the end. Presumably because of fatigue from muscling the rifle.
I worked out the issue, it was that I was facing down hill. I didn’t account for the concrete sloping towards the target before the firing line. I was able to get it together for rapid prone.
Rapid Prone was great string and this should have gotten me pumped up. I shot a 94/3 which is the best I have shot in competition for rapid prone with the Garand, at least in recent memory. Instead of being excited, I was still dwelling on slow prone going into off hand. Furthermore, I made the mistake of doing the math. I needed an 80 in off hand to medal, which isn’t impossible. Recently my average off hand has been just around 80.
Off-Hand did me in. I came into that stage frustrated and blew it. I dropped a 6 on my first shot, reset again, hit a 9 and a 10, then dropped another 6. I guess 3 strikes were all I could take as it went down hill from there.
All that said, I paid a price for a hard lesson. I know better than to get frustrated, dwell on the last shot and have the wrong mindset. In the end, a couple days later I feel good about this match. I came back as best I could , and came close to my goal.
I am off to Camp Perry in just 5 weeks with a couple of local matches between now and then so no time to dwell on the past.
All in it was a great experience and i’m excited to go back. My shooting partner had a great match and brought home a silver.
I can’t finish this post without mentioning the BBQ after the awards ceremony. Eating good southern BBQ, and drinking sweet tea on a patio with a view of the range and the Alabama Mountains, after a day of shooting, is hard to beat!
I know CMP has plans for Southern Games in December and depending on how it lines up with deer season here in PA, I may try to attend. I’ll certainly be back for the D-Day Match next year if they have one.
Pictures from the weekend: