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National shooting matches will open with salute to military heroes

07/04/2014, 12:02am EDT
Shooting matches will salute military heroes

Sean Roehrs of Sylvania, right, steadies himself before shooting. BLADE

PORT CLINTON — The Camp Perry training center west of here will be a very busy place for the next five weeks as it hosts competitions in the shooting sports, attracting the top civilian and military marksmen. The Civilian Marksmanship Program National Trophy Matches will take place at the 640-acre facility, along with the NRA Rifle and Pistol Championships.

On Monday, a special ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. to honor the military heroes of 70 years ago from the Battle of Saint Lo in Normandy, France, and the Battle of Saipan in the South Pacific. With favorable weather, a World War II vintage B-25 bomber from the Yankee Air Museum in Willow Run, Mich., and a Navy Avenger torpedo bomber from the local Liberty Aviation Museum will pass over the shooting ranges.

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The “First Shot” ceremony will also include a German anti-aircraft battery and tow vehicle from the local museum, a fully operational M-4 Sherman tank from the Allen County Historical Society in Lima, and a pair of restored Army Jeeps from the Firelands Military Vehicle Group in Sandusky.

Re-enactors in period uniforms will ride in the vintage vehicles, and a World War II amphibious tractor, or AMTRAC, will be on display.

The CMP extended invitations to World War II veterans to attend the event, which will also feature remarks from Gary Anderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the owner of seven world championships, who is also the Director Emeritus of Civilian Marksmanship. Anderson will fire the first shot of the National Matches with the Model 70 rifle he used to win one of his 16 U.S. National Championships.

Following the “First Shot” ceremony, the dedication will be held for the new Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center, the CMP’s air gun facility. All of the “First Shot” events are free. There will also be open houses at the range from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday and from 5-8 p.m. on July 17.

Camp Perry has been the home of National Matches, the Super Bowl of the shooting sports, since 1907. Its rifle and pistol ranges make it the top facility of its type in the country.

In conjunction with the National Rifle and Pistol Matches competition, the CMP is also offering a pistol small arms firing school on Monday. The instruction is focused on teaching people new to the shooting sports, so those enrolling in the class are not required to have any experience handling firearms.

Students will be given basic instruction and taught firing practices, as well as the skills needed for competition and firing on the live range. They will also have the opportunity to compete in a M9 Pistol Excellence in Competition match at the conclusion of the instructional clinic.

Participants in the class must be at least 14 years of age, and intermediate shooters are also invited to participate.

The instruction is conducted by the U.S. Army and sponsored by the CMP.

There will also be an advanced pistol course offered Monday, with instruction and a Q&A session with pistol shooting champions, and the opportunity to fire in the Service Pistol Warm-Up Match, which precedes the National Pistol Matches.

The CMP Rifle Small Arms Firing School begins July 16 and offers the opportunity to learn how to fire an M16 rifle in a noncompetitive setting where safety is the highest priority. This school is also structured toward teaching new shooters, so no past firearm experience is necessary. The course will cover basic instruction and firing practices, competition skills, and live range firing. Intermediate shooters are also welcome.

The SAFS courses have been part of the National Matches event since 1918, and more than 1,000 pistol and rifle shooters are expected to participate again this year.

Instruction is done by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.

The CMP National Three Position Air Rifle Championships were held recently at Camp Perry, attracting more than 300 sporter and precision air rifle marksmen to the new Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center.

Sean Roehrs of Sylvania, a member of the Black Swamp Junior Rifle Club, shot a personal best in the competition for the second straight year, while teammate Justin Kleinhans from Oak Harbor qualified to become a member of the national developmental team.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.

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