Above: The interior of the former mess hall at Camp Perry, OH. The facility, which had fed scores of hungry shooters and military personnel for several decades, was damaged beyond repair in 1998 by a devastating tornado.
Prior to the withdrawal of military personnel working the National Matches in 1968, the mess hall was run completely by the military. Competitors had a choice of excellently prepared foods at a very nominal price per meal. After 1968 it became the NRA's responsibility to come up with a way to feed those attending the National Matches. The Ohio National Guard allowed the NRA to use only the ovens (not the stoves). The answer became pretty obvious—frozen food. Frozen meals were just getting started and in general were not very palatable. Also, to get the quantity of the same menu for each meal, etc., was daunting. However, an outfit in Toledo agreed to give it a try. There was not much of a choice at each sitting but most competitors understood the NRA's problem and didn't complain (too much).
Shooters waiting for a meal outside of the Camp Perry Mess Hall.
Another hurdle that had to be passed was the fact that the frozen food was trucked from Toledo to Perry in refrigerated trailers. The trailers could not be left there so the NRA had to again come up with a solution. The U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, VA, came to the rescue by trucking up a half-dozen large field freezer units. These were lined up on the loading dock of a building next to the mess hall and wiring spliced into a nearby power cable. One of my collateral duties was to team up with the NRA Administrative Officer, Col. Russel B. Warye, USMC (Ret.), each day and inspect the mess hall in regard to cleanliness, safety, etc. One major job was to test the water heat for washing the cooking utensils as we wanted everything as sterile as possible. (The boilers were real cranky!) There was no problem with the eating utensils as they were all plastic throwaways.
Again, the selection was very limited and for those competitors who shot in a phase, it wasn't that bad. For those who stayed all summer the repetitions came close to being unbearable. One breakfast item that was easy to make, freeze, pack and heat was French Toast so it was one of the mainstays. By the time the National Matches were over, I had a rough time just looking at a piece of French Toast, much less eating one. —John J. Grubar