Talladega Marksmanship Park Hosts Garand Collectors Association Convention
October 21, 2015Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸Talladega Marksmanship Park Hosts Garand Collectors Association Convention
By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
TALLADEGA, Ala. – On Sept. 25-26, 2015, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) welcomed eager guests to attend the Garand Collectors Association (GCA) Convention, held at Talladega Marksmanship Park. During the weekend, convention members were able to view their comrades’ impressive gun collections and compete against one another on the CMP’s new electronic target system
The park was open to the public during the event, allowing visitors to see the over 40 GCA displays and learn more about organization. Visitors were also given grounds tours of the CMP facilities in Anniston and Talladega. As a bonus at the completion of each day’s matches on Friday and Saturday, a special sales event was set up by the CMP for convention members to view and purchase rifles at the Talladega Park.
For competitors, a new shooter clinic was conducted on Friday morning by Leon and Don Rutherford of the CMP to a group of about 40 fresh faces, with a Vintage Sniper Match bringing some fun to the afternoon. A total of 34 teams fired in the event.
Leading the Vintage Sniper manual competition was CMP employee Teresa Champion, 42, (who competed in her first match) and Randy Ent, 63, of Russell, PA – team Unlikey 2. The pair finished with a score of 381-8x. Jones and Morgan was the overall team in the semi-automatic category, with a score of 369-6x. Team members were Martin Morgan, 15, of Talladega, AL, and Carl Jones III, 52, of Birmingham, AL.
CMP employee Don Rutherford and Board Member Cris Stone were the high Vintage Sniper team out of competition. Mr. Stone finished with the high score of the match – an outstanding 198-8x.
The next day, a Garand Match was fired on the park’s exclusive 600 yard range, with over 100 competitors participating in the match. Donald Schedler, 60, of Mentor, OH, was the overall winner in the Garand Match with a score of 289-11x. He was also the High Senior of the event. Larry Sollars, 44, of Cumming, GA, took second with a score of 284-6x, followed by Jerry St. John, 62, of North Vernon, IN, who fired 281-4x for third.
The highlight of Saturday night was the GCA banquet, featuring guest speaker Marty Morgan. Morgan is a contributor to the GCA Journal and also hosted and narrated the GCA’s “America’s Rifle – The M1 Garand,” DVD. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and specializes in American and military history. Besides authoring many historically-based books, he has also appeared on numerous nationally-known television stations including PBS, Discovery and the History Channel – just to name a few.
To wrap up the convention on Sunday, Talladega Marksmanship Park held an EIC rifle match at the request of GCA members. A total of 48 competitors fired in the match.
There was one Gold, 9 Silver and 12 Bronze Achievement Pins awarded in this match. Roarke Pendleton, of Trussville, AL, fired the overall score of 477-10X. Four legs were awarded in this match to Anthony Bellipanni, Sam Richardson V, Michael Roberson and SSG Brad Balsley, USA. Congratulations to Bellipanni for earning his final EIC points at Talladega for his Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge.
As a thank you to the CMP for the efforts of its hardworking employees, the GCA donated a statue of John C. Garand and placed it down the walkway to the 600 yard range. The statue is a life-like adaptation of Garand himself, from the waist up. Situated on a pedestal in a dapper suit, he looks over the range – holding the timeless rifle he created for the ages.
The detail of the piece is said to be so realistic that there was debate as to if the rifle Garand holds is real or not (and to some’s disappointment, it’s not). The GCA also generously presented a $100,000 donation to CMP.
CMP’s COO Mark Johnson and Chairman of the CMP Board of Directors, Judy Legerski, gave short speeches during the statue’s dedication on the morning of the Garand Match. Mr. Johnson appropriately honored the man who helped secure America’s freedom, as well as looked towards the future of marksmanship by saying, “[He] created the world’s greatest battle weapon, and now he can stand watch over the greatest range.”
Talladega Marksmanship Park is open year-round to the public. Hours for October are: Monday-Tuesday, CLOSED; Wednesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the inaugural Talladega 600 match – to be fired Dec. 8-13!
For more information on Talladega Marksmanship Park, visit https://thecmp.org/competitions/talladega-marksmanship-park/.