We’re celebrating a century of American service rifle competition in the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. The rifles have changed dramatically over 100 years, but the competition is still much as it was in 1907.
The first Service rifle competition dates back to the late 1800’s. In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt formally authorized the national matches to encourage better marksmanship for soldiers and civilians. In the beginning, the matches were held at different locations across the country, but in 1907 Camp Perry became the permanent site. 100 years later, the tradition continues as America’s most prestigious shooting competition.
Camp Perry has had many assignments over 100 years. It was a training base for Doughboys before shipping overseas to fight in the First World War.
During the Second World War, Camp Perry housed thousands of German and Italian prisoners of war in the huts that still stand and are now available housing for the National Match Competitors.
Camp Perry is now an Ohio National Guard base on the shore of Lake Erie. The annual national matches are a combined effort of the Guard, the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Rifle Association.
In 100 years of competition the matches have remained the same. The challenge is precision shooting with government issued rifles, but the rifles have evolved. In the early years the competition was held with the bolt operated rifles of the first world war. Then would come the Garands on the line, followed by the M1A ,or the M14. Now the AR’s are the service rifle of the modern shooters.
Correction: The winner of the President’s Match, SGT Kristoffer Friend, is a member of the Army Reserve (USAR) Shooting Team, not the active duty AMU (Army Marksmanship Unit) as stated in the show.