Damn, it was cold!
I have a ritual for attending matches at Camp Perry. It starts with a trip to Woodville Surplus in Oregon, Ohio. Woodville has true Army/Navy surplus as well as new merchandise.
I bought a new Carhartt coat and hood there several winters ago for winter chores and outdoor work on those blustery cold NE Ohio days. That was a good decision. I’ll need it at Perry at the match. I’m still interested in the unused Polish gas masks, but frankly I’m not sure why I need one. I suspect Woodville has new owners as the new firearm section has expanded, as has the quality knives and overall quality of the place. They carry Boy and Girl Scout stuff as well as family camping gear.
I always time my arrival around lunch so I can stop next door at the Big Apple Deli. Their hot chili is fiery spicy and the sandwiches generous. It’s a nice place with helpful people and good food.
Camp Perry has a long history. Founded in 1906, it was a plot of swampy of land off Lake Erie. French drains were dug and dug which turned the area into primo property. I believe it was used for POWs in both WWI and II, but the source of all internet knowledge (Wikipedia) claims only WWII.
|Main offices at Camp Perry|
The POWs were German but mostly Italians. The Italians were given parole to leave the camp and provide much needed help to the local farmers and fishermen, returning at night. I know how weird that sounds. Following the end of the war, many of the Italians did not want to return to Italy, finding much greener pastures locally and became members of the community.
Camp Perry, with its huge rifle and pistol ranges which uses Lake Erie as an impact zone, became the home of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches. I’ve shot pistol matches that were halted because a summer pleasure boat entered the impact zone. Going into town is always a kick seeing billboards off the highway saying “Welcome Shooters.”
Currently, Perry is a National Guard base, serving as a tune-up stop (I’m told,) for both National Guard and regular military police heading out to the various hot spots around the world. It’s home to a variety of units such the 213th Ordnance Company, Ohio Naval Militia and Red Horse Civil Engineering.
I’m going because the Friends of Camp Perry run both pistol and rifle pop-up fun matches when they can get access to the ranges. For rifle you shoot off an elevated platform at half size humanoid plastic targets. Computer controlled, different numbers of targets pop up at ranges of 50 to 300 meters on either the left or right side of your lane of fire. You can have up to three targets appear at a time.
|The box indicates the target at 300 meters|
Look, while I enjoy shooting as an activity, it is an article of faith for me that an armed population is a deterrent to a totalitarian government. Let’s set the time machine for the Nixon presidential era. Watergate has exploded. Nixon becomes an embattled and bitter president. Future President Ford will later pardon him for any crimes he claimed he did not commit. Civil disturbance is at a high point in living American memory.
Many people wondered if Nixon was going to place the Supreme Court in protective custody, dismiss Congress for their own protection and declare nationwide martial law. During that time I became a believer in the Second Amendment and an NRA supporter. I still believe it was only the knowledge of an armed and resistant population that prevented this.
There is no place I can shoot that has pop-up targets out to 300 meters (325yard). I can’t test equipment and myself like this anywhere else. So yes, I will attend the Perry Pop-up matches whenever possible.
I shoot an ordinary AR with a 16 inch carrel with a 1 in 9 twist and a 1.5 to 4 X scope mounted on A-2 upper. I zeroed the gun at 100 yards for my reloads. I reload a 69gr boat tail only to save money. It’s nothing special and you don’t need a $2500 rifle and scope to hit a minute of man at 300 meters.
|Registration Tent. It was too cold and too windy to uncover the windows!|
So Saturday found me standing in 23 F weather with winds whipping out of south west. Reading the always present windage flags, I estimated wind speeds at least 20 mph. Red Horse set up a nice heavy duty tent shelter, but neglected to turn the electrical on in the area and the tent was dark as a grave. And just about as cold. Here the three women volunteers, working by battery lantern light, signed us up and I headed to my firing point.
Neither the sun or better conditions showed up, but I didn’t care. I slipped on my Gore-Tex rain pants for more warmth, slipped a chemical hand warmer in each shooting glove and found my point, Lane 3.
|Perfect fashion for the Snow Flake Pop-up Match. Other than my hands I was warm.|
Lane three had problems. One target was frozen in the up position. Two on the right were frozen in the down position. I wasn’t the only one. At least 4 other lanes had targets that decided to sit the match out.
I made lemonade from this sour experience. I worked on long distance shots. Bullseye shooters will dial wind drift correction in. I’m not comfortable with that. At the 300 meter target I held off the targets left shoulder level to the top of his head. The theoretical calculated drop for my load is 19 inches at this distance. The targets are about 36 inches tall, so 19 inch drop is a center of mass hit. They all went down before my neighbor’s targets so I knew I was getting hits. As I moved in, I held closer to the target’s center of mass. They went down too!
There were a few surprises. One of my frozen 50 meter targets on the right stood up, took a round and decided to say down for all the other shooters as well. I took a shot just for giggles at my frozen target and it went down! It never came back. My gun choked on one round, but I got it clear and recovered the round to determine what went wrong.
Between my relays I hid in my car with my new buddy, the heater. I selected unpadded shooting gloves because I want to feel the trigger better. Why doesn’t anyone make gloves padded on the tops, sides and palms leaving the finger print side with tactile input?
I didn’t wait for my scores, but zipped myself out of my rain pants and headed for Tony Packo’s in Toledo. If you’re a MASH fan you remember Klinger talking about Tony Packo’s hot dogs. It’s pretty famous for that. It’s also famous for walls of autographed hot dog buns.
|Tony Packo's. Under the blue green wall sconce you can see a few of the many, many signed hot dog buns.|
It seems Burt Reynolds was appearing in a Toledo stage production and was taken to Packo’s. When asked for his autograph, Burt grabbed a hot dog bun, signed it and the rest is history. Later all the signed buns were replaced with ceramic replicas which are sign just as easy but never go stale.
So is there tactical content here?
Maybe. The weather was a bitch, but I know my rifle works. Despite the new battery, the cold sapped the battery strength and could not illuminate the chevron in my scope. I need to consider warmer shooting gloves. I preloaded my magazines anticipating the difficulties of fumbling ammo in the cold. I also realize I don’t need a special rifle out to 300 meters, more than the total length of 2. 7 football fields. I need to replace my bipod with a better quality one.
I also learned something about myself, which is the real goal of all these activities.