Konrad's journal of Highpower Rifle Competition

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The 1999 National Matches

1999 marked my second visit to compete in the National Highpower Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.

The National Matches are essentially the championships of Blackpowder, Bullseye Pistol, Smallbore, and Highpower Rifle competition. They are held in the summer of each year at Camp Perry, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Highpower phase of the matches is two weeks long. The first week consists of matches put on by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. These probably have the greatest attendance of any during the summer.

Housing at Camp Perry, for the majority of shooters, consists of either a module or hutment. The huts used to house German and Italian prisoners of war during World War II. Unfortunately, because of their age, a number of them have deteriorated to the point where they are no longer habitable. This has caused a housing shortage in recent years. Now there are more competitors than there are beds to house them. This forces shooters to either stay in a motel in Port Clinton (the nearest town) or not come to Camp Perry at all. These huts are 14' x 14' with one door and three windows. The quality of the hut that you get is based on your luck. You could get one that is actually livable or your hut could leak and your roommate may be some furry critter, or even worse, a shooter from Wisconsin.

Modules on the other hand are a relatively recent addition. They are almost like a small motel room. Here are pictures of the one my dad and I stayed at in 1999. The outside. The inside. The best part of the modules is that fact that they each have a bathroom with bathtub. In my opinion this is the best way to stay on post at Camp Perry.

My dad and I arrived at Camp Perry on the Sunday August 1st, 1999. We checked into our module and unpacked. One of the first places to head to after getting to Perry is Vendor's Row. This is a series of buildings where various suppliers of shooting equipment and supplies have temporary stores. Because Highpower is a rather specialized activity, and equipment is ordered mail order, Vendor's Row affords the competitive shooter a unique ability to actually browse all kinds of Highpower equipment. From shooting jackets and bullets to rifles and spotting scopes. This is the best place to actually try out that new spotting scope you were thinking about buying. Champion's Choice, a supplier of all kinds of competitive shooting stuff, has a rack outside of their building on Vendor's Row with eight or ten spotting scopes. You can look through all of them and make a better informed buying decision. But BEWARE. Vendor's Row has a habit of separating the shooter from his money. The kid in the candy store mentality is hard to suppress.

On Monday there is a squadded practice in the afternoon. Since we had nothing to do until then, we wandered onto the ranges to watch the Army Marksmanship Unit conduct their annual Small Arms School. On the left of this picture you can see my uncle's Rickshaw-type cart and on the right is Dan Stone of the Illinois State Rifle Association Gold Team cycling down the line.

Squadded practice is 200 yard practice which may be helpful if you banged your sights around while traveling to Perry. During practice I was squadded on the same point as a guy from New York. He ran short of ammunition for his M1A so I gave him some of mine. He came back to me after he shot it saying that it was really great and it shot fantastic. It turned out my load (168gr. HPBT w/ 41.5gr. of 4895) was the same as his so thinking you have a great load is probably more important than actually having a great load.

Tuesday is the first day of real competition. The President's Rifle Match. Here is a picture of me in my offhand preparation period for this match. As you can see, we get out to the line early in the morning. This match consists of 10 rounds slow fire standing at 200 yards, 10 rounds rapid fire at 300 yards, and 10 rounds slow fire at 600 yards. The top 15% of shooters in this match, limited to 100, are known as the President's hundred. It doesn't matter what your classification is or whether you are a military or civilian shooter. Everyone has an equal chance of making the grade. If you do your part you just might make it.

Did I make it?

I didn't even come close. I was 905th out of 1246 firing competitors. If you want to see the scores from last year's trophy matches click here to get the list of results. I did better in 1998 when it was pouring rain. Oh well, I was sure I would do better on Wednesday.

Wednesday is the National Trophy Individual rifle match. In this match you can earn points toward a Distinguished Rifleman Badge. I had no illusions about earning points but I had hoped to reverse the debacle of the previous day. It started off OK but went downhill from there. At least I was able to snap some pictures so the day was not a complete write-off. Here are some fellow competitors in the pits. Getting ready for pit duty. Watching Mr. Warren from Virginia Beach shoot his offhand. Those number boards downrange look small but here you can see them up close. This is prone rapid at 300 yards. Boy, those targets look awfully small. Here you can see what prone rapid looks like from the pits. Notice the group of five shots at three o'clock in the nine ring. Here is someone else's prone rapid score. A 98 with 2 just a touch out to the left. The 600 yard target looks a lot bigger when your standing right in front of it. Here Mr. Warren from Virginia and Nathan from Connecticut paste and score another ten. The tens just keep on coming. It wouldn't be Camp Perry without some threatening weather. Instead of walking you may want to take the shooter shuttle.

By Thursday it was time to go home. Before we left there was one picture that I still had to take. My son was born in May of 1999. I couldn't think of a name for him until I remembered that the high civilian in the NTI match wins the Nathan Hale trophy. Nathan Hale being a Revolutionary War hero that said "I regret that I have but one life to give to my country". Because of this I decided to name my son Nathan. Before I left Camp Perry I had to get a photograph of the actual trophy. The folks at the CMP were kind enough to let me take a picture of the trophy in their offices.