Archive for October, 2015

Camp Perry, USA, 27 July to 19 August, 2015

The following is a brief summary and impressions from the three weeks Angus (Shooter), Mark (Shooter) and Mike (Manager) spent as members of the Australian Under 25 and Veterans’ Teams at Camp Perry (Cleveland Ohio) for the USA, World Individual and Teams shoots including the Palma match.

Crack of dawn Monday saw Mike and Mark at Border Control (previously Australian Customs Service), Mascot. Clearances made despite Mike forgetting his Firearms’ Licence. On to United’s counter for check-in. An hour later and we were aboard our B777 for the 15 hour flight to LAX. (Angus made his way with the Under 25 team)

Arriving on time, we thought that our three hour transfer time would be adequate. We were so wrong! Luggage hall is gigantic with our main cases arrived on a carousel at one end, our rifle from a hole in the wall at the other end. Then a very long walk from Terminal 1 to T7 taking our cabin bags and rifles, only to be confronted with more chaos and lines (sorry, queues) eventually getting to our planes gate for the onward flight to Cleveland. Our plan for everyone to meet and board the same flight didn’t work as over a dozen of our group missed the connection. {A note of caution, when flying to USA, try to enter USA in almost any other port than LAX. It’s the pits!!!}

A 4 ½ hour flight saw us arrive early evening. While collecting our luggage we noticed that all our groups’ luggage had arrived – without all passengers! Arrangements were made for those who were delayed to be safely stored pending their arrival. We collected our rental cars and drove 90 minutes to our Port Clinton hotel arriving around 7pm. A quick meal and drink and off to bed.

Next morning we found the rest of the group. They had checked in at 2 am – and we thought we’d had a long time away from a bed. Our team of 12 shooters, captain, manager and coaches and four partners spent the next few days were spent recovering from jet lag, visits to the range, sight-seeing, shopping and trying to find (unsuccessfully) healthy food. A highlight was a visit to a nearby South Bass Island’s Put-in-Bay where we saw the Perry Peace Memorial, 317 feet (97m) high and a delicious lunch on Lobster Bisque followed by more lobster.

We also made a day trip back to Cleveland we visited the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum well worth the visit with several hundred cars, bikes and planes amongst the exhibits. Next door is a mansion turned in to a museum with a large number of great exhibits.

General observations: -This part of Ohio is a huge flat area on the Northern side of Lake Eire (currently suffering from green algae), the shallowest in the Great Lakes Chain. The lakes are the largest inland fresh water in the world. As such, they have their own climate and while we were there mostly benign. However, we did experience a couple of spectacular thunderstorms with heavy rain which caused flooding and power outages. There have been thousands of ships wrecked on the lakes, many of which were extremely large. Around the roads lakeside are a series of warning sirens mainly for storms.

Camp Perry is a pleasant 20 minute drive along the foreshore from our hotel.

Impressions of Camp Perry: – It is huge, 642 acres (250 hectares) in area. Boasts to have the largest outdoor range in the world. Two main full-bore ranges with about 300 targets up to 1000 yards. With no butt-stops, bullets end up in Lake Eire on the Northern Boundary. It is training camp for National Guard, home of The Civilian Marksmanship Program. Also small-bore and pistol ranges to give a total of 15 ranges, most of which can be used simultaneously. The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station is about 10 miles away from the range. The 150 metre cooling tower is clearly visible on the left of the range and from the foreshore near our hotel. There is a huge wind turbine next to the range, but this was inoperative while we were there.

Every morning there is the Colors (sic) Ceremony. Following a count-down, the canon is fired and the National Anthem is played throughout the range. Everyone stands to attention and service and ex-service personnel salute, even if not in uniform. There is a roll call before shooting starts every morning. At the start of every range, there is a recitation of safety rules, standing orders and match rules. Blow off shots are allowed each morning. The sound of several hundred shooters firing three or four shots aver a short period of time was deafening.

Shooting: – For the first 4 days, there were other competitions going on which unfortunately didn’t involve us. We finally got to fires some sighters at 300 yards on Saturday 1st August around 5pm. It made a long day waiting around due to program delays and we didn’t get back to the hotel until after 7pm. It was however good as it got us in the habit of early rises and long days.

Each day were involved in shooting, we were at the range before 7am and usually back to the hotel between 5 and 6pm. Twelve hours to shoot 60 counting shots (over in about 30 minutes!). We were in large squads as the organisers could only get markers for around 70 targets.

Sunday was a free day with the “Meet and Great”, finger food and drinks in the evening. The next three days were the USA Individual Championships with three 15 shot matches each day over 300, 600, 900 and 1000 yards with our “Veterans’ Dinner” on Tuesday 4th August. Here Matt Pozzebon from West Wallsend Rifle Club came out victorious following Ben Emms; success last year. Mark was 23rd in the Veterans.

Thursday and Friday were the Veterans WC Teams and Tony Loughnan Memorial Teams matches each four 10 shot matches over 300, 600, 900 and 1000 yards. The Australian teams were placed 4th and 3rd respectively. Angus picked up the bronze in the Under 25 individuals. A great effort.

Saturday 8th saw practice in the morning and a 15 shot match at 800 yards to start the WILRC. Followed by three more days with 15 shots at 800, 900 and 1000 yards culminating with a final ten shooting off at a 1000. Benn Emms won the event with after a nail biting final with Nigel Ball (GB) and Matt 2nd and 3rd. A great way for Mike to celebrate his 68th birthday with Mark participating in some sleight of hand with greetings from those left behind in Sydney.

Wednesday was a practice day for the Palma Teams. We did some chores including a much needed trip to the Laundromat. That evening we had our team dinner at Brandy’s Steakhouse, great food and drink and fellowship after an exhausting fortnight’s shooting.

Thursday and Friday (13th and 14th August) had the Palma Teams match. 15 shots over 800, 900 and 1000 yards each day. Australia started well each day but faded badly particularly at the longest range where Great Britain with consistent shooting and great coaching showed the other teams how to do it.

We took Steve and Carolyn Williams (Bathurst) to Toledo late Saturday morning and visited the new maritime museum . It is an amazing set-up with interactive exhibits as well as memorabilia. Anchored alongside is the Col. James M. Schoonmaker, a 613 foot (200 metres) lake freighter built in July, 1911. We spent some time clambering over and around this fine old vessel. Then we had a late seafood lunch on the riverside and off to our hotel.

Sunday, our last whole day before flying home was spent doing last minute washing and packing. Monday was an early start with Mike taking Steve and Carolyn to the airport at 3am. Then back to the hotel for a rest. Then the long trip home started with a delayed flight back to LAX and onwards to Sydney, arriving early Wednesday morning and the joy of long queues at Boarder control and home.

Lasting impressions: – The real honour of representing Australia in the world competitions; the friendship and acceptance of the Veterans Team; the cohesive nature of our team and their traveling spouses (particularly with scoring duties, and luncheon supplies); support and continuous encouragement from family, friends and club mates; meeting old friends; making new ones; camaraderie, particularly with the Great Britain Veterans who were at the same hotel; being ragged about the cricket results; the helpful volunteers and staff of the NRA; daylight from 4:30am until 8pm; hot and humid conditions; massive rain storms; willingness of the Palma Team Members to assist us, particularly during our team events; seagulls by the hundreds so far from the sea; and last and not least – our green golf cart, decked out with Australian flags, ever ready to transport team members and their gear to and from the range, ably driven by Mark and Mike, together with several team members, and of course John Schafferius.

 Uncle Mike