Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mike's National Match

Up early, with the sunrise at our backs, we sped west toward Camp Perry yesterday morning. The phone rang a couple times during the two hour drive - Robert, already waiting for us on Rodriguez Range, was checking on our ETA and keeping us up to date on the details. "Firing point 22, little end, to the left of the flagpole..." I relayed these messages to Mike- they sounded like clues to finding a buried treasure.

The sky was ominously gray. This is not a good sign on the shores of Lake Erie and it had started to rain sometime between our house and our destination. I worried about men standing out in the middle of a big open field, all holding long metal sticks in their hands but kept my thoughts to myself.

We arrived, fueled by coffee and excitement and were flagged down by a young man walking near the parking lot. I rolled down my window and said hello.

"Hi! I'm Nate! Robert's down in the pits but you're at firing point 22. I'll meet you over there."

Finally, a face to put to the name. Nate is a blogreader who contacted me last week, telling me he was in Camp Perry with the Virgina Rifle Team. He wanted to meet Mike and me and asked if we would perhaps join him for dinner some night. (we never did make it to dinner- but donuts on the range are just as good when there's fine conversation.)

We brought our gear to our spot and waited, eating donuts with Nate who patiently explained the rules and scoring to me. Mike was shooting in the 4th and final relay, after Robert. He was pacing and standing - I think he might have been nervous. It started to rain in earnest and so I walked back to the car to both stave off my shivering and to get my Eee PC out of the weather. Blogging would have to wait. By the time I got back, Robert had joined us. I hugged him - happy both to finally meet him and because he, like an angel of mercy, offered me a rain poncho.

You ever go to a dance and there's an older couple, almost gliding across the floor? Moving precisely, no wasted steps, all muscle memory and rhythm their bodies know this song - they've waltzed together for years and it shows. Well, watching someone shoot with as much experience and expertise as Robert is like that. Makes it look like the easiest thing in the world and the most natural - as if the human body was designed for rifles and not the other way around.

He scored well, Xs abounding.

Mike was up next - he was in a tshirt and jeans, no shooting jacket, soaked to the skin with rain, and using a borrowed Garand. Thankfully Robert was coaching him, calming him - I saw quite a few pats on the back. "Remind him to breathe," I thought. Mike was grinning the whole time, I gave him a thumbs-up. My fingers were turning blue.

Robert came back during one of the preparation periods to give me the score - I didn't know what it meant. "Is that good?" I asked. I was assured that it was. Mike's a good rifle shot and the slow, measured pace of this sport suits him. 10 rounds prone slowfire, 10 rounds prone from standing rapidfire, 10 rounds standing slowfire and he got every shot on the target. No zeros and one X, with a final score of 244.

He's getting a medal next year.


Robb Allen said...


breda said...

I hit enter too soon - there will be content, I swear.

Robert Langham said...

I know it was short and sweet but very glad to spend a few minutes with you and Mike. Thanks for coming over. Be here all week.
Mike did great I thought.

Old NFO said...

THIS is what I really enjoy about our 'community'... Thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great time. I haven't been to Perry in a couple years, but hope to return next year. I usually shoot either the Garand Match, the Springfield Match, or the SAFS/M-16 Match, or some combo of the above.

So, which match will you shoot next year, Breda? The M-1 Carbine match looks like fun...

OrangeNeck said...

Awesome!!! What was the highest score he could have gotten?

Buckshot said...

Come on, guys,

We need to start now to get both Mike and Breda in the SAFS-Rifle next year!

I suggested it several posts ago, but she never listens to just one of us. Jump on board here and get it out there so that they both can get signed up for the SAFS-Rifle next year!


PresterSean said...

I've really enjoyed when I've attended SAFS M16; I never really grasped MOA until the I heard the Sat Morning lecture!

I wish I'd gone this year; I'd much prefer grey and rainy to clear blue skies and 95deg/85% humidity.

Bruce B. said...

Good job! to Mike. Looks like you've been bitten by the bug.

@Wai- 30 rounds fired a perfect score would be 300-30X. It's alot tougher than it sounds.

B_Lahey said...

Coffee before a match?!?!?

May want to rethink that if he wants that medal.

Brent Greer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent Greer said...

Congrats Mike. It is fun isn't it? I have fired a few CMP high-power matches, but at other clubs. I prefer the Garand to an AR, any day. Have been to Perry many times but have not participated in National Matches -- yet. Glad you both enjoyed yourselves. I was there Monday visiting with old friends who were gearing up for four-days of high-power competition. Hoping to get back to see the wrap up on Friday.

d smith kaich jones said...

I so smiled at your description of Robert. He is my landlord and has been for a jillion years. To get to his vehicle from his front door, he has to pass my front door; quite often (as you can imagine) he is carrying a rifle or two, and he moves as if they were just an extension of his body, It always makes me smile, especially if he's silhouetted against the blinds. Then you can't tell where he ends & the firepower begins. Think Edward Scissorhands.

:) Debi