A Guide For Collectors & Non-Competitors
Each year thousands of shooters flock to the area surrounding Port Clinton, Ohio for the National Matches at Camp Perry. Most are competitors of various skill levels who plan on participating in their respective discipline over the course of a match schedule that runs longer than a month in duration. Less publicized are the crowds of collectors, non-competing shooters, and family members that attend the matches. Many folks who prefer not to actively compete in the matches remain unaware that there are a number of activities in Camp Perry that don’t require a single squeeze of the trigger. Most of these activities can be experienced in a single day, but a brief weekend trip would likely prove ideal to fully enjoy the National Match experience.
Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) North Store:
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a national organization dedicated to training and educating U. S. citizens in responsible uses of firearms and airguns through gun safety training, marksmanship training, and competitions. In addition to these programs, the CMP also offers surplus rifle, ammunition, and accessory sales through their North and South Stores.
The CMP North Store is located on Camp Perry, just a short walk from the ranges and their headquarters facility. A visit to the CMP North Store is essential for any collector of vintage military rifles, as they commonly release a limited number of rifles in configurations that vary from their normal product selection. In 2015 a number of M1 Carbines were available for purchase, and the year prior a selection of 1903A3 rifles occupied a few of the rifle racks. Over the course of the 2016 National Matches the CMP added the option to purchase a Special Grade M1 Garand (with a match-grade new production Criterion M1 barrel and reproduction furniture) featuring WWII era Winchester receivers. These unique rifle options normally do not remain on the shelves for long, so it is normally a good idea to hop in line an hour or so before store opening to choose from the pick of the litter.
Are you having a hard time sourcing a part for a rifle build? Is your powder and primer supply running a bit low? Did you forget your shooting glove at home? Commercial Row has you covered! This collection of small buildings holds a veritable treasure trove of rifles, parts, and shooting equipment from a wide range of manufacturers. If you’re looking for something manufactured by Criterion, many of the vendors on the row inventory our barrels (this list includes the CMP, Fulton Armory, Compass Lake Engineering, and Creedmoor Sports).
A shopper can quickly browse through the buildings of Commercial Row in the matter of a few hours, but a slower pace may improve your chances of finding some collectible components or bargain bin prices. New old stock, new in wrap, or rare variants of parts can occasionally be found buried in the bottom of a parts bin, so dig in and keep your eyes peeled for that tough-to-find piece!
Clinics and Classes:
As we described in our earlier article describing the Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), the CMP and Army Marksmanship Unit offers a number of on-site clinics designed to familiarize the novice competitor with the nuances of service rifle competition. One such class is the GSM (Garand, Springfield, Military) clinic offered in the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center. The most recent period of instruction was presented by Steve Cooper, the General Manager of CMP North. This free class includes:
• A safety brief
• A description of the course of fire and range commands
• A basic overview of weapon function and manual of arms,
• A guide on gear and shooter preparation
• A brief lecture on marksmanship fundamentals
• An outline of basic scoring procedures.
The clinic concludes with an open question and answer session where shooters discuss some of the finer points of what they may experience when they participate in their first GSM match.
M1 Maintenance Clinic
Most CMP clinics place an emphasis on marksmanship fundamentals, but there are a few classes designed with the rifle builder in mind. The M1 Maintenance clinic is led by CMP Custom Shop Manager Chris Hord. The two hour period of instruction guides students through the process of completely disassembling and reassembling the M1 rifle. Each component is described in detail, outlining a number of unique characteristics found in each part. Wear and failure points are described, as well as a number of key dimensions required to allow for safe and consistent rifle function. Cleaning methods, lubrication points, proper tool function, and gauging procedures are also outlined to students.
While this course does not involve the detailed instruction and hands on experience offered in the three day Advanced Maintenance Class offered at their Anniston facility throughout the year, it does offer a wealth of information pertaining to match rifle accurizing. As a bonus, the course also includes a brief overview regarding the 1903 and 1903A3 rifle designs.
Off Base Activities:
While shooting-related activities dominate the Camp Perry experience, nearby Port Clinton offers plenty other sport and camping activities as well. Non-shooters can spend time at any one of the half dozen parks and beaches in the area, as well a wide selection of water-based activities, restaurants, and fishing charters. A visit to Heineman’s Winery and Crystal Cave in nearby Put-In-Bay can also make for an enjoyable local activity. A full list of attractions can be found on the Port Clinton website here.
The plethora of activities and classes offered during the National Matches has something to offer for just about any firearm enthusiast. Even if you’re not inclined to participate in a competitive event, we highly recommend making the pilgrimage to Camp Perry at least once in a lifetime. It’s an experience any shooter won’t soon forget!