2016 NRA Smallbore Championships Update

posted on October 29, 2015
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A letter to all NRA Smallbore Competitors from Dennis Willing, Director of the NRA Competitive Shooting Division.

On Saturday, October 23, 2015, I met privately with Mr. Tom King, Chairman of the Smallbore Committee. Together we unsealed the box that contained the survey forms submitted by competitors regarding their preference to keep the Smallbore National Championships in Bristol, Indiana or return to Camp Perry. The vote count was 133 to return to Camp Perry and 51 to remain in Bristol.

Most of the cards were reviewed for comments to determine the reasons for the competitor’s selection. Oddly, the comments by some mirrored reports that we had received during the championships in 2015. Staff at the championships had overheard coaches telling their competitors to put down Camp Perry on the survey form. On the forms, in the comment area asking why competitors made the choice that they did, competitors wrote that their coach told them to select Camp Perry. The survey results became suspect.

On October 24, 2015, the meeting of the Smallbore Committee was held. Obviously, the decision to stay in Bristol or return to Camp Perry needed to be discussed. The discussion was lengthy with the committee meeting lasting two to 2.5 hours longer than scheduled.

Survey cards were made available to the committee for their review. Discussion was had about the survey and results, as well as the many other factors that go into the conduct of a National Championship.

The discussion involved many items, such as but not limited to; size of the venue, weather, housing, vendor’s row, parking, tent setup, awards ceremony, outside activities, course of fire, community support, finances and changes to Camp Perry.

Although we had received comments, in letters and email, that the NRA should fund the National Championship regardless of cost, this simply cannot happen. Anyone who funds their household in that manner soon finds themselves bankrupt. Good fiscal management in any endeavor is mandatory. As a result, the NRA provides the Rifle (Smallbore) Department with a budget, which must be managed properly.

Competitive shooting is not a money making operation. It is a “loss leader” for the NRA so what we do is try to keep those losses to a minimum.

During the meeting, approximate costs of conducting the event at Camp Perry were calculated and determined to be over twice what the costs were to conduct the events in Bristol. The approximate daily costs of Camp Perry for Smallbore were in excess of $16,000 and at Bristol in excess of $7,000. Total daily costs were averaged based on 13 days; 10 for competition and 3 days setup/teardown. It was also noted that the costs of staying at Camp Perry were increasing due to the Ohio National Guard now charging for things that were free in the past, like use of buildings, which are now charged for by the day, theater use for awards ceremonies, etc., and entry fees would likely have to be increased.

During the last two years at Bristol, the NRA came as close as it ever had to breaking even at any National Championship. This had to be a factor in the discussion, especially since changes could allow the NRA to break even and, if a profit were made, to lower entry fees.

One of the changes at Camp Perry that was of concern is the loss of a cover over the firing line. This cover was bought years ago through a one-time fee to competitors. The NRA assumed the costs of all repairs after that. The last repair was $12,000 and the cover has an equal or larger bill pending (if repaired) due to the last storm damage in 2013. As a result, this cover will not be replaced and no cover will be on the firing line.

Further, the CMP is considering the installation of electronic targets at Camp Perry that could become operational in 2017. If this occurs, the firing lines will be moved down range approximately 400 yards if they are installed on the Rodriguez Range and perhaps 800 yards downrange if installed on the Viale Range. You will not be able to drive downrange, which means you are left to walk or take a provided trolley. There will not be a covered firing point on the electronic target range.

It is difficult to review every item discussed in an explanation that should be convenient to read. I did not wish to create something that took an enormous amount of time to digest. However, what you need to understand is that this was discussed at length with committee members discussing both sides of the issue.

In the end, NRA staff recommended that the matches remain in Bristol, with the understanding that they could return to Camp Perry after all changes have been implemented and evaluated. After full consideration of the factors involved, the Smallbore Committee agreed that the Championships should remain in Bristol until pending changes at Camp Perry can be fully evaluated. 

Dennis L. Willing
NRA Competitive Shooting Division


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