My Camp Perry Experience – Over 45 years of National Match Attendance
March 24, 2021Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸My Camp Perry Experience – Over 45 years of National Match Attendance
By J. Nelson Shew, 79, of Lebanon, Oregon
My first year at Camp Perry was in 1970 as a member of the National Guard National Shooting Team. I have competed in 47 National Matches as a shooter and also a couple of years as a volunteer or coach. I shot mostly service rifle in highpower competition but did enter smallbore a couple of years. I have been a President’s 100 member (finishing in the top 100 of the President’s Rifle Match) 20 times and was the overall winner of the match in 1988. I was also the National Guard Service Champion numerous times.
Some of the teams I have been a part of include the National Trophy Team Match winners of 1977, the Herrick Team Match winners and the National Trophy Infantry Team Match winners of 1994, along with the Roumanian Team Match winners of 1996. I also coached five junior Whistler Boy team winners, nine Junior Infantry Trophy Team winners and one junior National Trophy Team winner. In addition, I have been the Senior Service Rifle Champion several times and the Grand Senior Champion with a service rifle.
My first experience at Camp Perry was from the pages of the American Rifleman magazine as a youth, reading my father’s copies. He had been a member since the late 1930s. I had often wondered about the matches and made a pledge to myself to attend, at least once.
I have had many favorite experiences over the years as both a shooter and as a coach. I could relate to something almost every year, but the ones that stand out the most are being on the winning teams, coaching the junior winning teams or being the overall winner of the President’s 100 match.
I also enjoyed working the Small Arms Firing School. One student in the late 1970s was Steve Cooper, who now works for the CMP at Camp Perry, and another JROTC student was Dave Erikson, who would later be a part of the Army Marksmanship Unit and my “boss” for a couple of days as the officer in charge of the Small Arms Firing School. I must have trained them both very well!
I encourage all new shooters and those who have never been to Camp Perry to try to attend at least one year. New shooters seem to progress a classification after competing there, and the experiences by being around all the other shooters and the stories they can tell are experiences by themselves. Visit all the stores on Commercial Row, where you can purchase all the latest and greatest shooting aids, rub elbows with the Champs and visit the display of National Trophies with all the winners of the past engraved on their plaques.
Camp Perry is more than just a destination, it is an experience that needs to be lived. It makes no difference your level of skill, Camp Perry has something for everyone. See you there next year.
CMP looks forward to welcoming our competitors to the firing line at Camp Perry in 2021! To download a schedule of events, please visit https://thecmp.org/competitions/matches/cmp-national-matches/. Registration opens April 1st!
About the National Matches: The annual National Matches has welcomed rifle and pistol competitors of all ages from around the country and the world since 1903. Moving to its current home at the Camp Perry National Guard Training Facility in Ohio in 1907, thousands of guests travel to the event each July and August to take part in the several competitive, educational and purchasing opportunities offered on the grounds.
Attending the National Matches has become a tradition that has moved through the generations, with some returning year after year, without fail. The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), the entity that has helped facilitate the National Matches since 1996, has compiled a list of recognition of those who have attended the event for 20, 30 or even 50 years. These individuals have spent decades of their lives devoted to marksmanship, celebrating its legacy each summer on the shores of Lake Erie, and we at the CMP thank them for their unwavering support.
It’s time to determine some bragging rights! We’d like to recognize those individuals who have attended the most National Matches at Camp Perry. Tell us – when was your first year? How many years have you attended? Do you know of anyone else who you think could qualify? Those who we find have earned the “Most/Longest Attended” title will be highlighted in an upcoming CMP article. Let us show you off! You’ve earned it – comment below or email [email protected]. (And we love old photos too!)