PORT CLINTON, OH (WOIO) - Last year, the World Series returned to Cleveland for the first time since 1997. The World Series of the Shooting Sports, however, comes to Ohio every year.
The National Matches have returned to Camp Perry in Port Clinton for the 111th year in a row, and they are loaded. Pun intended? You bet your buttstock.
"The CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) conducts 21 rifle matches and seven pistol matches, and the NRA fires 10 pistol matches," said CMP Marketing Manager Steve Cooper. "With so many different trophies and awards up for grabs, by as many as 5,000 participants, it's the largest marksmanship and most historic shooting sports event in the U.S."
Unlike the World Series, the Super Bowl, or the NBA Finals, anybody can compete in the National Matches. You can leave your house in the morning and compete that day against the best pistol and rifle shooters in the world.
That's right. You.
"There is not a qualifying event," Cooper said. "It pays to have some target shooting experience, but we have a pistol and rifle Small Arms Firing School run by the CMP and U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, which trains between 500 and 800 attendees at the Matches each year."
For $45, anyone can go through the SAFS programs to learn marksmanship, but it is not required to shoot in the Matches.
Both civilians and active-duty military will make their way to Perry this year. Everything from modern semi-automatic service rifles to vintage military rifles, .22 caliber pistols, and more are fired in competitions.
Is Grandpa's old "Dubya-Dubya-Two" rifle somewhere in a closet? Sweet. Grab it and go.
The Garand Match is waiting for you, or the Carbine or Springfield Matches, depending on what Grandpa's old trusty was. The Roosevelt Commemorative match even incorporates rifles from the Spanish-American War. Theodore Roosevelt created the National Matches to improve the marksmanship of Americans after he was less than impressed in their ability to accurately dispense lead at high-velocity.
The first matches were fired in New Jersey in 1903. They moved to Port Clinton in 1907, and have remained there ever since. Last shots for this year will be fired on July 29th.