When Camp Perry opened, the Krag Jorgensen rifle was still king of the range. It was not until 1908 that enough of the Model 1903 rifles were available that they could be set aside for use in the National Matches. Of interest in this photo from Perry in 1907 is the use by the shooter in the foreground of a Pope sight micrometer, attached to the rear sight elevation leaf. Harry Pope's micrometers, unlike most of the several varieties that were made and sold, were intended to be left in place while the rifle was being fired.
"Camp Perry ... is a place of magnificent distances. One of the things needed there is a light trolley which will take contestants and spectators from point to point around the range. Tom Keller of Peters Cartridge Co., known to about every man in the shooting fraternity, a man full of invention, quickly perceived upon his arrival at the celebrated range the neessity for a better means of locomotion than was afforded by his sturdy, but rather short legs; so he ... acquired by lease, theft or purchase a white quadruped, adorned by the appropriate amount of ears, hair and tail, to which was attached a light one-seated buckboard. In this rig Tom was able to get around to see the multitudinous individuals of his acquaintance. Wherever he went his good nature prompted him to invite some one to ride with him. His horse was not properly introduced to Tom, and for a name each new beholder chose the one which suited him best. Mrs. Drain called the animal Fido. Why, no one knows, but perhaps because it was such a doggoned poor horse ... Tom himself gave to his treasure the euphonious cognomen of Sweet Marie. General Riggs thought the best name was Beau Brummel. The last day of the meeting inquiry of the alleged owner brought out the information that the real name of the horse was Alice."
"Considering the fact that last year farms and orchards covered the range, wonders have been accomplished in the time available. Before another target season opens many improvements will be made, including additional targets, concrete walks and regimental clubhouses."
—Arms and the Man, August, 1907
Shortly before the National Matches (or National Shoot as stated for the first time in the match program) commenced on Ohio's new state rifle grounds, the facility was dedicated and named Camp Perry in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero from the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. (Official recognition by the state legislature occurred the following year.) And on August 19, a new era in National Match history began with the firing of NRA and Ohio State Rifle Association Matches. Specifically, the first shot of the event was fired from a Krag by Corp. L.B. Jarrett of Indiana at 9:10 a.m. in the Championship Company Team Match. The Leech Cup Match was the first individual contest fired, attracted 327 entries, and was won by the prior year's Wimbledon Cup winner, Capt. J.C. Semon of Ohio. While conditions on the first day were considered excellent, they deteriorated rapidly as the second day offered up wind, rain, and a 15-degree temperature drop over a period of a few hours, thereby establishing immediately the reputation of Camp Perry as unpredictable and environmentally challenging. Fortunately, Ammon Critchfield had the foresight of having wood planks positioned throughout the grass-deprived camp to help competitors deal with the muddy swamp-like conditions caused by the rains off Lake Erie.
All American ammunition companies were interested in sales to competitive riflemen, but of the four largest, the United States Cartridge Company, in Lowell, MA, seems to have worked the hardest to attract attention. This advertisement was from Arms and the Man in 1907
The appearance of Camp Perry during its National Match debut was crude but functional. Given the short amount of time that Critchfield had to deliver on his promise to have Camp Perry ready for the 1907 matches, those in attendance seemed more than willing to traverse rutted roads and firing lines. they had good reason to overlook some of the undeveloped areas, for it was obviously a work in progress, and one worth waiting for. Reachable by an extension of rail from LaCarne on the Sandusky division of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, Camp Perry had its own station at the entrance to the grounds and competitors who traveled by train were able to secure a special price of two cents per mile, although the offer appeared to have been made somewhat begrudgingly since the match program stated there was "agitation between railroads and state law requiring a reduced rate." If funding was still an issue, travelers had the option of disembarking at Port Clinton and proceeding the final five miles via horse drawn wagon. Whatever the method of transport, what greeted competitors upon arrival at Camp Perry was a newly built clubhouse that the Sandusky Register reported in August as being "furnished throughout with all modern conveniences, electric lights and water ..." In addition, hundreds of canvas tents provided for all the shooters' needs, including latrines and showers. And in a contrast of structural styles, an existing farmhouse with wraparound porch served as the first administration building.
On the 400-acre facility, rifle ranges accommodated 160 targets for shooting out to 1000 yards and skirmish events while revolver targets numbered five each at distances of 15, 25, 50 and 75 yards. The central geographic location, uniform flatness of the landscape, ideal north-facing range layouts, and well constructed butts reinforced with concrete all added to the appeal of Camp Perry as the National Match site.
While representatives from firearms and sporting goods companies attended matches at Creedmoor and Sea Girt, it was Camp Perry's debut as National Match host where the "Commercial Row" tradition was launched due largely in part to the tented village atmosphere that drew unprecedented interest and turnout.