Tag Archives: National Matches

The time machine that is Camp Perry

1908 California rifle team at Camp Perry, Ohio. The site of the National Shoot. 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection via Shorpy.

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.

Of interest in this photo from Perry in 1907 is the use by the shooter in the foreground of a Pope sight micrometer, attached to the rear sight elevation leaf. Harry Pope’s micrometers, unlike most of the several varieties that were made and sold, were intended to be left in place while the rifle was being fired. Photo via American Rifleman

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.

US Army Rifle Team at the 1911 National Trophy Team Matches. Photo via Springfield Armory National Historic Site

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.

From CMP:

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 two-day Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic at national matches, which often sees military instructors impart their knowledge to 1,000 or so budding marksmen. (Photo: CMP)

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.