When Camp Perry opened, the Krag Jorgensen rifle was still king of the range. It was not until 1908– as shown in the above photo– that enough of the Model 1903 rifles were available that they could be set aside for use in the National Matches.
At the 1907 National Matches, the rifle ranges accommodated 160 targets for shooting out to 1,000 yards, while the revolver targets (the M1911 was still a half-decade away from making an appearance at the match) numbered 5 each at distances of 15, 25, 50 and 75 yards.
Today the National Matches are a great deal more diverse and draw a slightly larger attendance, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 100 years is SAFS.
The Department of Defense first conducted the Small Arms Firing Schools (SAFS) as part of the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1918 and Federal law continues to require the annual course– which now instruct nearly 1,000 pistol and rifle shooters each year in firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills.
The current token entry fee of $45.00 ($30.00 for juniors) provides SAFS shooters with classroom instruction, field training, live fire squadded practice session, entry to the M16 EIC Rifle Match, as well as ammo for the course. The winner gets a plaque. The top four get medals. All get a t-shirt, a lapel pin, and a memory to keep forever as their very own experience in the National Matches.
The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic that includes a safety training and live fire portion (30 rounds) on the first day and an M16 Rifle Excellence In Competition (EIC) match on day two. The course of fire after five sighting rounds for the M16 EIC match consists of 10 shots slow fire prone in 10 minutes, 10 shots rapid-fire prone in 60 seconds, 10 shots rapid-fire sitting in 60 seconds and 10 shots slow fire standing in 10 minutes, all fired from the 200-yard line.
The program is designed for beginning marksmen or those looking to earn their first EIC points, which are earned and applied toward receiving a Distinguished Rifleman Badge.