Above: At this year's Small Arms Firing School, members of the Army Marksmanship Unit, as well as other qualified military shooting team members instructed participants in the classroom and on the firing line.
In July, aggressive thunder and lightning during the 2016 Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) forced the evacuation of nearly 430 competitors from Viale Range at Camp Perry immediately after a pit change. Firing was temporarily suspended until the weather passed, then the soggy competitors returned to finish the accompanying M16 Match.
Winning the top spot in the match was SSGT Josh Heckman of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). Heckman shot a perfect sitting position score of 100-5X.
First-time competitor Thomas Doligale of Prospect, KY, attended with his Louisville Boy Scout Troop 109. The troop has brought several young competitors to the National Matches the past few years.
Morgan Mowrer of Fredericksburg, OH, was one of the standout competitors during the M16 event. She had some company on her firing point during her National Match debut—as she competed eight months pregnant. Mowrer's SAFS instructor was both privileged and nervous to have her next to him.
“I had never trained someone that pregnant!” he said with a laugh. “I thought I was going to have to deliver a baby out on the line!”
Experienced marksmen (or those hopeful to become one) are free to enter the SAFS as many times as they like. This year, many returned to the firing line, including Matthew Nodine and his son Isaiah from Pleasant Lake, IN. The father and son duo have attended the school together for the last five years.
“We basically make a vacation out of it,” said Matthew. “I’d probably come up here even if I wasn’t shooting anything. There’s just something about it.”
The clinic is designed for both new and veteran shooters. Beginners learn the basics of marksmanship and competition shooting. Advanced shooters receive specialized instruction on improving their areas of limitation.
The course is led by members of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) and highly qualified military shooting team members, along with CMP instructors. At the end of live-fire practice on the range, all students compete in an Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) Match—with the chance to earn points towards becoming Distinguished marksmen.
Along with SAFS, a junior high power clinic and advanced clinic was held. The clinics catered to those who wished to acquire fundamental lessons or more progressive instruction.
The CMP-Remington Advanced High Power Clinic offers in-depth learning through classroom and dry-fire exercises on the range. The course is led by members of the Remington-Bushmaster Team and headed by retired U.S. Marine and former non-commissioned officer in charge of the Marine shooting team, Ken Roxburgh. This year, over 65 students attended the course held on the newly-improved Petrarca Range.
During the CMP-USMC Junior High Power Clinic, members of the USMC shooting team provided classroom instruction and also conducted live firing practice on the range from the 200, 300 and 600 yard lines. The group of over 120 juniors learned about maintenance, positioning, sight alignment and weather—the latter becoming an unexpected real-life lesson.