First Shot Ceremony kicks off national shooting competition at Camp Perry
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Chad Menegay, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (07/08/19)
The Ohio National Guard hosted the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s 2019 National Matches First Shot Ceremony July 8 at the Camp Perry Joint Training Center just west of Port Clinton.
The ceremony commenced an elite-level competition featuring 400 of the finest pistol and rifle shooters from around the world.
“The National Matches is the mecca of all competitive shooting,” said Maj. Michael Yates, National Match Support Detachment officer in charge. “It’s an honor to be able to provide logistical support along with personnel to support the National Matches every year.”
The National Matches began with all the pageantry of any other top-level national sporting event: a band, pyrotechnics, cannon fire, rifle fire, color guard, VIP remarks, and skydiving with American flags.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, a double amputee and former U.S. Army Ranger, Special Forces operative and member of the Golden Knights parachute team, jumped from a Fast Trax Cessna aircraft with a massive 2,000-square-foot American flag in tow, then delivered the ceremonial flag and a motivational speech.
“Being a Special Forces operator, being able to interact with different types of weapons, foreign and domestic, I had over 300 different types of weapons, and nothing compares to coming here to CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program),” Bowman said. “From the accuracy to being able to hone your skills, it means a lot. People live for this each and every day to be able to impact the targets, and it takes practice. That’s what CMP does.”
About 75 Ohio National Guard Soldiers from many different military occupational specialties are serving in a supporting role, coming together for this one mission — to put on the National Matches.
“A lot of Soldiers are operating outside of their normal scope, sometimes operating in a leadership position that they’ve never done before,” Yates said. “So, it’s a chance for leadership opportunities for these young Soldiers.”
President Teddy Roosevelt started the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the National Rifle & Pistol Matches in 1906 in an effort to improve Americans’ marksmanship skills.
The National Matches is a monthlong mix of original CMP matches along with traditional pistol, smallbore, high-power rifle, and long-range rifle competitions, as well as clinics.
“This is a chance for all people to come here, shoot and prove that they’re a national champion,” said Sgt. 1st Class Seth Roy, National Match Support Detachment noncommissioned officer in charge.