100th Anniversary

Camp Perry – 2007 National Matches (CMP and NRA)
By: David Waters

The AIHPA Australian Service Rifle Team for 2007 (27th July thru 13th August) was:
- David Waters
- Chris Baynes
- David Vivian-Jones
- David Cornick
- Matt Avard (new)
- Paul Feeney (new)
- Josh Coughran (new)
- Peter Wilkins (new)                    Anybody wishing to contact the team, simply email   info@ aihpa .com

For a couple of lucky team members, this trip is about bringing back memories of previous trips, improve on previous outcomes, and meeting up with old friends.  For those lucky enough to make their first visit to Camp Perry, it is to simply see what the fuss is about.  Nobody was disappointed.

Camp Perry is the annual pilgrimage of shooting for all those who shoot service rifle, and match rifle.  There are THOUSANDS of shooters who turn up to compete at the National Matches - this challenging but most enjoyable event – including shooters from around the world, just like us.  This year, we met shooters from Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Africa, Germany, and the list goes on.

Similar to previous years, the vibe was “almost” the same, but this year being the centenary of matches, 100years of Camp Perry, there is a touch of nostalgia in the air.  Unfortunately, some of the forces couldn’t make it to Perry due to budget constraints, and “the war”, but some of the Special Forces made sure they were there to celebrate a grand occasion.

The Australian team members made their way to Perry at their own leisure, and plans.  3 Australians spent the leading week in Texas, while others were making their way via Hawaii, or direct to Perry from Aus.  The flights to the US make up for around 50% (depending on your shopping habits) of your trip costs, so it is worth spending a little extra to enjoy the US while there (visiting other states, other ranges, shooting more guns and ammo) as many of us did.

Some of us had airline troubles, David Waters especially, whose ticket was GIVEN away to a standby passenger resulting in him missing his flight.  After a long story, his 3 hour trip from Houston to Cleveland finally ended after 18hours.  Everybody in the US treated us extremely well, like family, EXCEPT for the airlines, where for the most part, we are greeted by rude and impatient people.

Like previous years, everybody wants to say hello, or in the local terms, either “hi ya’all” or “how ya’all doing?”.  Then it is chinwag time for a few minutes before either more welcoming US citizens say hello, or your attention is captured by something else.  Either way, Australians are very well treated, looked after, welcomed, and helped where ever needed or possible – whether it be from citizens, servicemen, local staff, volunteers or MPs, it is a fantastic experience.

The range was the best presented seen over the last few years.  There has been US$8 million dollars spent on the complex.  One of the upgrades was to the electrical system, which seemed to be well spent, as there was not a single power outage the whole time there (nearly EVERY room or hut has an AC).

Unlike previous years, this year had half the team in modules, and the other half in huts.  The modules are very comfortable, but very small with no fridge or cooking facilities, however take care of most the basic needs for travellers - on suite, linen, towels, air conditioner, etc.  At US$65/night, and big enough for 1 person, they are a luxury (more so on a poor exchange rate) for those staying the full 15-16 nights or more.

Those in the huts get a much larger room with 4 beds, and all the desired comforts need to be purchased (or borrowed).  However, just a couple of hours in Wal-Mart, and you will have everything you need, and sharing the hut with 1 or more, helps split the costs.  At a cost of US$45/night, after sharing with a 2nd or more persons, there is a lot of money to be saved.

Like all previous years, the matches were extremely well run.  The staff and volunteers take great pride in performing their duties so all the shooters, and us travellers, have a hassle free time at Perry.  A highlight for those returning from previous years are the faces that smile from a mile way, and walking towards you, with the smile getting bigger, great you with a hand shake or hug.  Wow, what a place – what people!

We borrow rifles, but not just any rifle.  Match grade AR15 service rifles are what is needed to be even remotely competitive.  These rifles are fully kitted with the best of everything, incl 1/4MOA sights, free-floating barrels, and shoot 1/2MOA or better.  Not bad grouping capabilities for a gas driven (automatic gearbox) rifle.

Ammo is always a concern for travellers – getting it, then having enough - especially if you have free shooting days, where you can chew up hundreds of rounds with an AR in a day.  One notable thing is the shortage of ammo this year compared to previous years.  The heightened tensions in the Gulf, and the current US terror alert, sees all of the services doing some serious shooting training (refreshing to see, at least, the US army do practice and train with LIVE ammo) consuming most of the countries surplus ammo.  In previous years, we have used the Major’s Hornady ammo, and Black Hills, but always we have been able to use superior hand loaded match ammo thanks to our Texan mates.  Again this year, our Texan mates came through, and all our team had top quality ammo.

This year, the team sanctioned official team shirts that were sold in days, thanks to The Giraud Tool Company stall in commercial row.  These shirts were a limited item, and proved to be very hot.  The whole team thanks Doug Giraud for his help, and thanks ALL the friends that purchased our shirts.  The profits from the sale of these shirts assist an estimated $45,000 bill for the Australian team to shoot the National Matches.  Apologies to all those who missed out this year.  We will have a new 2008 shirt that will surely please, and hopefully in greater quantities.

Commercial Row presents interesting challenges to the Australians.  Like a kid in a lolly shop, and a hungry person whose eyes are bigger than the belly, knowing what to buy, how much to buy, and how much money/credit is left over offers a significant challenge.  Remembering that you are there to shoot is often a good technique to avoid giving in to temptation.

Between the first week of CMP (service rifle only, huge numbers of competitors, leg points up for grabs, individuals and teams events, and NO SIGHTERS), we had a couple of days off before NRA week started (team shoot then the individuals matches for service and match).  The days off gave us an opportunity to use one travelling to Pennsylvania and shoot with our fantastic and welcoming mate Tim on his private range.  At Tim’s range, we met up with Rick, a close friend of Tim’s, local Sheriff, Vietnam Vet, and a top bloke.  The guns came out, literally, in all shapes and sizes, literally, and we had a blast, literally (gee, why did all those trees fall over?).

The Australian team thank every single person who made our visit to the US and participation in the Centenary of the National Matches possible.  We hope that we will be able to continue to attend the matches, no matter the outcome of the next election.  Hopefully every shooter, of every discipline or background, will band together, and “step up” to vote this year.  Australian shooters speak from experience – what you lose, you will never get back, and once it starts, it won’t end…  Please make sure “the good guys” get in…not Satan…

Results from the matches can be found at



Individual experiences of some team members can be found at the following links:

            - Paul Feeney

            - Matt Avard

            - David Waters


Camp Perry is located on Ohio Route 2, four miles west of Port Clinton and 40 miles east of Toledo.
From the east use Route 2 or Ohio Turnpike. From Ohio Turnpike exit gate 118, travel north on Route 250, then west on Route 2.
From the west use Route 2 or exit Ohio Turnpike at gate 91, travel north on Route 53, then west on Route 2.