By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
CAMP PERRY, Ohio – SGT Patrick Sunderman, 24, of the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU), was the overall competitor in the Open category of the Prone 6400 Aggregate Championship, fired as part of the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) National Smallbore Matches lineup of events. SGT Sunderman compiled a score of 6385-500x in his win.
Returning to Camp Perry in 2018, the National Matches Smallbore program expanded in 2019 to give competitors even more opportunities on the firing line. The Prone 6400 Aggregate was part of the additions, along with a smallbore Small Arms Firing School. As a result, participation in the events grew, with competitors traveling from as far as Australia and Ireland to compete in the fresh smallbore schedule.
“Coming into the matches, it felt pretty good,” said Sunderman. “We’ve been on the road for a little while shooting other matches. I felt prepared. It’s also good wind training for us too so it was a lot of fun to get to shoot and see how it all worked out. We tried some new stuff, learned some new things and it was pretty fun.”
SGT Sunderman was also the overall winner of the Prone Any Sight competition, with a score of 3195-258x. Sunderman secured the win only in x-count over new teammate SP4 Jared Desrosiers, 22, who was successful earlier in the week during the Three-Position smallbore events.
“He’s one of our newer guys, but he’s a good team player. Very supportive,” said Sunderman. “It was a lot of fun to see him do well and actually win the 3P. You know, good for him. He worked hard for it. He’s a great teammate – they all are actually.”
Sunderman and his team, USAMU Gold fired a score of 1598-119x for the overall win. Helping him towards the title was SPC Brandon Muske, SP4 Desrosiers and SGT Kevin Nguyen.
From here, members of the AMU will be preparing for the 2020 Olympic tryouts, set to take place in the coming months.
“That’s a whole other racket,” Sunderman joked. “But it should be fun.”
In the Iron Sight Championship, Mark Del Cotto, 59, of Lexington, KY, topped Sunderman by three points to earn the overall title. John Whidden, 43, of Nashville, GA, earned third in both the Iron and Any Sight competitions – also coming in just behind Sunderman in the 6400 Aggregate as the second place competitor.
Antonio Gross, 19, of Ontario, NY, led the Junior 6400 Aggregate, landing fifth overall in the Open category with his score of 6367-430x. Gross was also the top junior in the Any Sight Championship (earning fourth overall) and came in second in the Iron Sight match behind Scott Rockett, 16, of Cary, NC, who fired a score of 3181-209x for first.
Gross had given exceptional performances during the three-position events, leading in the Junior Aggregate event as well as the Junior Iron and Any sight matches. He kept his cool on the line, despite the level of competition and used his physical and mental training to find success.
“It is Nationals, so there’s a little bit of pressure, makes you prepare and get ready for things like equipment malfunctions. But you just treat it like every other match,” he said.
A member of the University of Akron rifle team (majoring in automated manufacturing engineering technology), Gross has been practicing all year long and keeping up his training twice a week in the off-season. He came to the National Smallbore events as a member of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association team, which went on to win in the Three-Position Team Championship.
The growing National Smallbore Matches added a new Freedom’s Fire three-position junior two-member team event. Winning the match this year was Putnam County Gun Club members Mitchell Nelson and Zach Jackson, with a score of 1101-23x.
Other Three-position Smallbore Results:
- SP4 Jared Desrosiers of the AMU claimed the overall Open Aggregate, with a score of 2305-93x. He earned the win by outshooting AMU teammates SPC Brandon Muske, 24, and SGT Patrick Sunderman, who took second and third with scores of 2297-89x and 2290-101x, respectively.
- SP4 Desrosiers also topped the Any Sight Championship, with a score of 1155-47x – just four points over teammate SPC Muske. Junior Antonio Gross fired a score of 1149-47x for third.
- In the Junior Aggregate, Gross led overall with a score of 2287-79x over second place competitor Mitchell Nelson, 19, of Charleston, WV. Scott Rockett earned third.
- Gross also led the juniors in the Any Sight and Iron Sight Championships.
- Howard Pitts, 54, of Taft, TN, led the Iron Sight Championship, with a score of 1198-90x. Following in second was Michael Naylon, 51, of Lakewood, OH, with a score of 1194-78x, as Ed Foley, 75, of Louisville, TN, earned third with a score of 1185-65x.
- Taking over the State Association Team Championship was New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Wolfe Pack, with a score of 2140-55x. Junior team members were Abigail Benson, Antonio Gross, Michael Dziabo and Edward Hahn. Pennsylvania Rifle & Pistol Association Gold led the Junior Team match, with a score of 2084-35x.
As last year, smallbore events were scored with the help of Orion Scoring System, an innovative scoring software app was designed to read shot scores by snapping a photo. After firing concludes for each stage, CMP personnel walk downrange with a handheld device to take photos of each target, which links directly to the Orion scoring system to identify shots and score accordingly.
For a complete list of results, visit the National Matches Smallbore page on CMP’s Competition Tracker at https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&match=18143&tab=results.
Photos of the smallbore events can be found on CMP’s Zenfolio page at https://cmp1.zenfolio.com/f430049319.
History of Smallbore at the National Matches:
The National Matches made its debut in 1903 and first appeared at Camp Perry in 1907. Through its long history in the following decades, which included two World Wars and other military conflicts that periodically halted the annual event, the National Matches has seen events come and go, and come again – including smallbore.
The first smallbore rifle events in the National Matches were held in 1919 at the initiative of the CMP's predecessor, the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. The National Rifle Association (NRA) became active in smallbore activities in the 1920s and 1930s, with a focus on youth, Dewar Team Matches and U. S. international team trials.
The smallbore rifle prone 3200 Aggregate became an established national championship in the years after World War II and was conducted in several locations during those years before it returned to Camp Perry in 1953.
An NRA national position championship was first fired at Camp Perry in 1958, with prone and position championships continuing as parts of the National Matches until 2014 when the NRA moved its smallbore rifle competitions to Indiana.
Returning to its 1919 roots, on July 17, 2018, the very first CMP smallbore event, and the first National Matches smallbore event held on Camp Perry’s soil in 5 years, fired on Rodriguez Range – beginning a new tradition of smallbore at Camp Perry.