I began my High Power Rifle career at Camp Butner, North Carolina in a Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) service rifle clinic. I fired an M1 Garand at 200, 300, and 600 yards. At the end of the day, I was so tired I could hardly crawl, but I was hooked forever on shooting High Power Rifle competitions. Since that time, I’ve shot in 20 national championships, earned a Distinguished Rifleman badge, and ran the North Carolina team for several years. The boys who were my junior team still stay in contact with me. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life.
Recreational shooting in the United States is a fast-growing sport. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported recently that the shooting industry’s contribution to the economy doubled in the last five years. Shooting competitions are experiencing the biggest growth spurt in history, with some matches filling up within three seconds of registration opening on their websites. Gun clubs are benefiting from record membership numbers, and while the shortage of certain kinds of guns and much ammunition has eased, .22 Long Rifle, the caliber most commonly used for recreational shooting, is still almost impossible to find on a regular basis. The manufacturers of .22 have all increased production, but still can’t keep up with demand.
All this (aside from the ammo shortage) is wonderful news for those of us who love recreational shooting, hunting, and believe the responsible use of firearms enhances public safety rather than threatens it. Good news deserves a celebration, and if you don’t call 10 days of competitive shooting with shooters from all over the country a celebration, I don’t know what is.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has been hosting the Eastern Games at the National Guard Training Site at Camp Butner for eight years. For someone who has an interest in getting into High Power Rifle shooting, the Games are the perfect opportunity. The CMP replaced the DCM as the organizing body for promoting marksmanship with military-style rifles. While the DCM was a part of the US Army, the CMP is a government-supported, all-civilian organization with the goal of promoting rifle practice. They handle sales of surplus M1 rifles, ammunition, and produce the National Trophy Matches for both rifles and pistols.
The festivities begin on Friday, May 2, with the Small Arms Firing School. Entrants will spend the morning receiving instruction on the current service rifle (the M16) and shoot a competitive match with CMP-issued rifles and ammunition in the afternoon. In the afternoon, there will be a special sales event offering ammunition, rifles, and more exclusively to competitors.
For the four following days, the competitions will be focused on a wide variety of shooting venues with vintage and modern military matches, a pistol clinic and as-issued pistol match, a service pistol match for military and police, a rimfire sporter match, an M1 rifle maintenance clinic, and various vintage rifle team matches. There will be a barbecue on Sunday evening.
On Wednesday, the competition turns more serious with the Creedmoor Cup, a competition focused on state-of-the-art rifles. The Four Man Team Match will be followed by three 800 aggregate matches that duplicate the National Championship course of fire. On the last day, the 10 days of shooting will be wrapped up with an Excellence in Competition Match awarding points towards Distinguished Rifleman status.
Other than the National Championships, the Creedmoor Cup and Eastern Games represent the biggest conventional rifle shooting events of the year. I can think of no other opportunity you’ll get this year to shoot an M16 on a National Guard Known Distance range.
For more information, go to thecmp.org.
Image by Dick Jones