The ancient gods were hard at work when the pistol phase started at Camp Perry. Zeus tossed around his signature lightning storm during the competitors' arrival, somehow signaling the beginning of two modern-day pistol deities' efforts to accomplish what was once thought impossible.
"Several years ago I put this whole sporting thing into perspective," he said, "when I had children."
His 11-year-old daughter had just scored perfect 600s in her science and math testing. He was eager to share the good news, and the upcoming matches seemed to pale in significance.
Zins was already among some of the loftiest pistol-shooting company in history. Shooting legends Harry Reeves, Huelet Benner, Bill Blankenship and Zins all had six titles to their credit.
That tie was broken on July 16, when King George, VA-resident Zins came from behind in .45 pistol to cinch a seventh National Pistol Championship. His score of 2645-111X also netted his fifth consecutive title, tying him with Blankenship, who held the title form 1960 to 1964.
Army Reserve S/Sgt. James Henderson, from Festus, MO, claimed second-place honors with an aggregate score of 2637-137X. Christopher Johnson, from Libertyville, IL, came in third with 2637-118X.
"There's not a bad thing to say about any of the competitors," Zins said about the Camp Perry attendees. "They're great people on and off the firing line."
When asked what his plans were now that he's taken a record-setting seventh title, Zins said simply, "Do it again."
Seven is also the magic number of victories Lt. Phillip Hemphill, of Clinton, MS, has won at the National Police Shooting Championships, which takes place in September. When Hemphill claimed victory as the police champion at the NRA National Matches, the NPSC and police championship titles were held simultaneously by a single person for the first time in history. The Mississippi Highway Patrolman scored 2613-99X to claim the victory.
Yes, this year at the National Matches at Camp Perry, the stars aligned, and the greatest pair of pistol shooters in history set about methodically rewriting the record books. But the real winners were those in attendance who were lucky enough to get lost in historic feats that may never again be repeated, much less bested.
More classic articles on National Matches history: