The National Matches as we know them now began in 1903 at Sea Girt, NJ. For the record, the term “National Matches” is used inclusively in historical articles published by Shooting Sports USA to describe the annual shooting competitions regulated by the Secretary of the Army and the NRA National Championships. Specifically, the first National Match was authorized by Congress in 1902 and held the following year while the NRA has conducted its own championships since 1873. The federally-sponsored competition was patterned after the NRA contests and until this year, both have been fired jointly. Not surprisingly, the analogous nature of these events led to the shared use of the phrase “National Matches.”
Challenges and threats to the continuance of this distinguished competition are as much a part of its storied existence as the contributions to sportsmanship and the technical evolution of firearms, ammunition and equipment. And through it all we are exposed to a recurrent theme: that what has existed throughout the history of the National Matches is the ability to endure, if not embrace, change. This accomplishment speaks volumes of the unwavering mission to provide training, education, and recreation in a safe, competitive environment by a multitude of thousands who have given tirelessly and enthusiastically of their time and talents to make the National Matches one of the preeminent sporting events ever.
Here's what shooters that made the trek to new NRA High Power Rifle Championships home Camp Atterbury, IN, had to say via Facebook:
Just got back from U.S. Nationals at Camp Atterbury … Here are my observations:
1) The range was outstanding. Facing the south wasn't a problem. 2) On-base accommodations were great and inexpensive. 3) The base is only 45 min from Indianapolis International Airport. 4) The base is close to towns with restaurants and shopping. 5) The transportation to and from the pits [was] air conditioned vans. 6) By all accounts the event ran smoothly.
The only downsides were that we got rain one day [which] delayed the matches till the afternoon. Overall the weather was hot and humid. That being said, I'm sure my bullets which are accustomed to high elevation appreciated the high humidity.
Overall, I loved it. I'm going back for certain.
Another competitor's observations:
The National Championships at Camp Atterbury are running like butter. [We were] off the range by 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m. at the very latest … Just sat through the Mid Range National Championships awards ceremony/dinner. Here’s how it went:
1) They had a spectacular venue! 2) The NRA had a fully catered in dinner and soft drinks for the event. 3) The NRA had a fully stocked prize table that was (I’m guessing) was close to $8,000-$10,000. This was given out by random draw, but you had to be present to win. - Several 1000-count Sierra Bullets gift certificates. - Several Hogdon 8-pounder gift certificates. - Berger Bullets gift certificates. - AR-15 rifle barrel. - Five $500 checks from Nosler. - Several thousand pieces of Lapua .223 brass. - Several hundred Lapua .223 bullets. - FN 509 pistol. - Really nice hard gun case. - More that I can’t remember.
The matches ran like butter all week and the ranges were in top notch shape! We were off the range no later than 2:30 p.m. every day and they had endless water and snacks for us in the pits!
All in all this was one of the better matches I have been to!
The same was also done for across the course and will be done for Long Range. The reason it was inside for Mid Range was due to the smaller numbers ... Earl Liebetrau said he wants to move F-Class Nationals to Atterbury in 2019 and also have heard that Fullbore may be coming soon.
This competitor was at Camp Atterbury for the duration of the High Power Championships:
I am liking Atterbury, been here for all of it. Certainly miss some elements of Perry, but overall this is better. I will be back here. I am not understanding why all the animosity seems to be directed towards the NRA. Surely the CMP deserves some of the blame for the breakup.
And finally, this competitor said he thought Camp Atterbury is phenomenal before the matches concluded:
I registered for across the course, Mid Range and Long Range. Two down and one to go. Despite the miserable [across the course] scores I shot the experience was phenomenal. Mid Range turned out okay and I am looking forward to Long Range. The matches have been run very well. The Atterbury range has never looked better! The carriers were in good repair and were able to be operated by one person.
I am not privy to the politics that went into the necessity for competing matches but I can say that the NRA has put its best foot forward with the matches at Camp Atterbury!