Championshooter Kevin Nevius grew up in a household that did not allow firearms, an unlikely beginning for one of the United States’ premier prone rifleman and gunsmiths. Once out on his own he fell in with his brother who enjoyed long-range varmint hunting. His natural bent for things mechanical (he is a professional structural engineer) soon had him tinkering with rifles, which eventually led him to building his own.
Kevin Nevius on the line during the 2014 Smallbore Championships at Bristol, IN.
In the late 1980s, a hunting companion, who shot smallbore rifle competitively, dragged Nevius into the gallery to shoot in a three position league. Badly bitten by the smallbore bug, he was frustrated and struggling with standing and eventually gave up position to focus on prone. Soon afterward, he discovered long-range high power prone. The transition was easy, for belly shooting skills are the same no matter the caliber or distance. All it really required of him was to build a center-fire prone rifle. He soon became quite adept at both disciplines.
Living in the heart of Ohio, Nevius was fortunate to be associated with a host of great rifleman such as Paul Gideon, Carl Jooss, and Gerald “Mouse” Wise who advised and encouraged him. By 1996. he won the first of his numerous Ohio State Conventional Smallbore Prone Rifle titles. which include a record-setting run of eight consecutive wins. The smallbore championships were on the horizon when he shot his way to the first of his many Ohio State Long-Range titles in 1998.
Nevius broke onto the national scene in 1999 when he finished in the top 20 in the metallic sight championship at Camp Perry, and was named to the U.S. Dewar Team—a feat he has since accomplished several more times. He was also a firing member of the Ohio State Team that won three prone titles at Camp Perry.
Living in a small hamlet close to Camp Perry,Nevius found it easy to shoot both smallboreand long-range nationals. He made the shortride home from Perry in 2005 with two trophiessafely belted into the shotgun seat ofhis Corvette: The Sierra Trophy, emblematicof winning the 1000-yard Palma aggregate,and the Doc Aitken Trophy, which was won at1000 yards with a match and shoot-off totalscore of 398-11X. The following year, theSierra Trophy again made the same trip.
Kevin Nevius hefts the Critchfield Trophy for the second time, making him the 12th person to have won the coveted trophy more than once in its storied 80-year history.
Everything fell into line for him in smallboreduring the 2008 season. After shootinga series of training matches in which he was most successful, he arrived at Camp Perry at the peak of performanceand won his first National Smallbore Rifle ConventionalProne Championship. It was a most auspicious win, as it alsoearned him a place on the 2009 U.S. Pershing Team, his firstshoulder-to-shoulder international team.
While 2009 was a bit of a letdown after the high of 2008, hecame back strong in 2010, winning the inaugural individual National Smallbore Rifle Metric Prone Championship, as wellas the team title at Bristol, IN. A few weeks later, and175 miles further east at Camp Perry, he chalked up anothermajor victory as he joined a very exclusive club. There are only14 individual trophies awarded in national long-range competitionand only one person can be the winner of the inaugural match.Nevius outscored all those using a Palma rifle in the NRA NationalLong-Range High Power Championship to be the first to takepossession of the Bert Rollins Memorial Trophy.
Along the way, Neviushas won some impressivenational records. Inconventional competitionhe co-holds the1200-shot metallic sightaggregate record of1200-102X. He wasjust one shot shortof perfection in the480 aggregate, wherehe holds the civilianrecord of 4799-412X, justone point behind, and11 Xs ahead of, Joe Hein’s4800-401X open record.
Nevius was backon his game in 2014with an amazing conventionalchampionshipexperience. Afterdropping a point on the first day, he fell into second place behindOlympian Eric Uptagrafft. When you are behind the likes ofUptagrafft, you are behind one of the hardest holders on theglobe. Over the next three days Nevius was perfect, while everyoneelse was not. His 4799 gave him his second conventional titleand his third national crown in six years. To add whipped creamand a cherry to his week, he teamed with Remington Lyman towin the Randle Double/mentor Match with a perfect 800X800, and then was the high scorer on the U.S. Dewarteam, shooting an outstanding 397 on the difficultInternational target.
One of his goals is to build a rifle that will shoot a 3/8th inch group at 100 yards.
Nevius, a soft spoken gentleman, is generouswith his time and knowledge to all comers.He vividly displayed the very special shootingsportsmanship when, after clearing the line,he would neatly pile his gear under his pop-upand then entertain Uptagrafft. They fraternallydiscussed, in exquisite detail, how to build awinning rifle, for the rifle each man shot in thetournament was a product of their own ingenuityand skill.
The pair would go head-to-head over thecourse of the next several days: Nevius first inconventional, Uptagrafft second, while Uptagraffttook Metric, and Nevius was second. A casualobserver would never guess the ferocity of theircompetition, while watching them nonchalantlydiscuss such arcane subjects as lard-based cuttingoil or the delicate use of a number five fileduring barrel chambering.
Nevius claims he owes his accomplishmentsto four people. The foundation of his success, heis quick to brag, is his wife Dianna and his twochildren, Zachery and Kelsey, who have supportedhis obsession with good-natured tolerancethrough all times, good and bad. Building and shooting accurate rifles is his passion, but he is a devoted husband and father who enjoys a good dark beer, pasta in any shape or form, and following the travails of the Cleveland Indians. The fourth is his mentor, fellow Ohioan andtwo-time prone champion Paul Gideon. Neviusclaims that Gideon channels another two-timenational prone champion from the Buckeye state,Dianna Ron West. Within the smallbore prone community, knownfor its meticulous attention to detail, Gideon stands headand shoulders above the rest for his absolute intoleranceof anything less than perfection. Gideon’s high standardsdrives Nevius, who knows that to have any hope of beatinghis close friend, he has to mirror his expectations inperformance, equipment and ammunition.
While shooting occupies a good deal of his free time,Nevius is multidimensional. Building and shooting accuraterifles is his passion, but he is a devoted husband andfather who enjoys a good dark beer, pasta in any shape orform, and following the travails of the Cleveland Indians.Before embarking on his successful engineering career,he misspent a small part of his youth playing piano in arock band. Normally calm and measured, he will occasionallyslip into the fast lane to unwind with a spin inhis Corvette Z06.
Sporting a resume that would equal the lifetimeachievement for most shooters, he still has goals.His first shooting love is smallbore and in that arenahe aims to winmore prone titles; earn a slot onthe 2021 U.S. Pershing Team;and build a rifle that will shoot a 3/8th inch group at100 yards—the Holy Grail of a smallbore gunsmith.
Kevin Neviusis very much like the groups he shoots,well rounded and centered.