1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Camp Perry
John McCurdy   7/08

             Well, let me tell you of my recent sentimental trip to renew old memories and acquaintances. Some of you may know of my long-time hobby of Bulls-eye Pistol Shooting, for over sixty  years the acme of that sport has been found the first week of July at The National Pistol Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. Camp Perry is on the shore of Lake Erie and is the home of the Ohio National Guard and during World War II was used as a facility for German Prisoners of War.

The National Matches are sponsored by the National Rifle Association and what used to be called the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, until the era of political correctness of the fifties. It is now the CHP or something like that!  At the conclusion of these matches at Camp Perry the winner is hailed as the National Pistol Champion!

          I last was at the National matches in 1967, at that time I was classified as an expert and if I may brag, I shot well. I think perhaps Bunk Rowe and the late Lester Bennett, a Distinguished Military Shooter and myself are the only Alderson folks ever to shoot at Camp Perry. There may have been some who have competed in the Small-bore or the High Powered Rifle Matches.

          I had volunteered to help at the matches, help always being needed. I mentioned that to the wrong people and I was soon convinced to make one more pilgrimage to actually shoot. A long-lost friend from Camp Greenbrier, John Hash, (some of them were OK guys when one got to know them), a retired attorney from Nashville and I decided we would make the journey together for old times sake.  John had last attended in the 80’s and had only recently started shooting again after a hiatus of 26 years,  in my case it was 37 years. At the last minute events prevented John and I from going together but he got there a day or so after I did and we shared a “Hut” with a very nice shooter from Huntington.

Now a word about the “huts.” They are huts from the 40’s that were used by the POWs and they have had little in the way of upgrades since then. Some have had new roofs and electrical service upgrades in the last 15years or so, but luxurious or comfortable they ain’t!  Just barely adequate would be a better description if one is charitable. But they are part of the “Camp Perry Experience.”

 Some folks make other arrangements but I would not think of staying anywhere else. This year after the inevitable “rainy day at Perry” many huts had water that came over the foundations and into the hut and across the floor, one learned to be cautious when getting up in the night to go to the latrine a quarter block away! Somehow our hut was the only one in our immediate area that stayed dry, although we had a small lake at our doorway.  When I was last there the huts were, as I recall about $5.00 per night and meals in the Mess Hall were included in ones Entry Fee!  Now the Mess Hall is gone, one is on their own for food and the huts are now  $45.00 a night! The cots are new in the last 25 years, but from the looks and feel the mattresses are not. A sleeping pad, mattress cover and two fitted bottom sheets, gave a slight hope of not getting a dread disease or two or so.  

We had taken a window AC, a small refrigerator and a little Microwave and so were much more comfortable than in many past years. I did not do nearly as well as once I did, but I did not shoot anyone and I did not get shot and more importantly, I did not shoot on anyone else’s target and it was all in the sport, and I realized that time does take it’s toll! But that’s all right. 

          Camp Perry shooting is composed of a number of matches over 5 full days; The Harry Reeves Memorial Revolver Match named for a veteran Detroit Policeman who was national champ in the 30-40’s. The preliminary matches, sort of a warm-up for later. Then the actual matches with the  .22  caliber, the center-fire, and lastly the biggie, the .45 matches. Shooting is Slow Fire at 50 yards, Timed and Rapid Fire in 20 and 10 seconds!  At the end of the week the Individual Hardball matches with the .45 and service ammunition separates the men from the boys. The old shooter and the new and especially the sight of so many young men shooting on the military teams and the few that compete with one arm or one leg or other scars of battle brings tears.  The panoply of the multi-colored State Flags, and the excitement that fills the air during the Team Matches on the last day is memorable and the daily Opening Gun Ceremony that begins with a cannons roar and the Honors to the Flag while the National Anthem is played is truly inspiring. 

          I doubt I will ever return, but then I did not think I would go this year, so who knows. I cherish the sights and sounds and the friends I made there.