Father And Son Make Trip From Spain To Compete At Camp Perry

Father-son duo Christian and John Hughes traveled from Spain to participate in pistol matches at Camp Perry in 2023.

posted on February 22, 2024
Spain CMP Campperry Hobby 1
After their trip to Camp Perry last year, Christian and John Hughes now have a new mutual hobby. John has been stationed at a Naval base in Rota, Spain, since 1992, with son Christian currently planning to follow in his father’s path by training in the Navy.

Each year, Camp Perry welcomes thousands of guests from all regions of the country and even from around the world. Many who have participated in the competitions, educational courses and camaraderie return year after year, eager to take part in the nostalgic atmosphere and to share the experience with others.

Last year, John Hughes, 53, and his son Christian, 19, made the long journey from their home at a Naval Station in Spain for a summer excursion in the United States. The itinerary included a trip down memory lane for John and a new set of memories with Christian after the pair decided to make a stop at Camp Perry, Ohio, for a little fun on the firing line.

Christian & John Hughes with air pistols
Christian (left) and John (right) Hughes traveled from Spain to participate in pistol matches at Camp Perry in 2023.


Born in 2004 in Rota, Spain, where his family has been stationed since 1992, Christian hasn’t lived anywhere else.

“It’s definitely different,” he said of growing up in another country. “Spain has a beautiful culture, and it’s a beautiful country all together—very close people that love getting together for everything and anything.”

Over his lifetime, Christian had many stories about his dad shooting at the National Matches. A member of the Navy team and Distinguished in both rifle and pistol, John knows a thing or two about marksmanship and was eager to get back to competition at Camp Perry. Christian, on the other hand, had no shooting background of his own, besides growing up watching his dad compete and leisurely firing air guns and other firearms, on occasion.

Even so, the lack of experience didn’t stop Christian from competing alongside his dad during their trip to Camp Perry.

“My experience was very positive,” Christian said. “It was definitely hard getting through some nights of reloading while dealing with jet lag and having to wake up at 6:30 in the morning every day, but I think it was well worth it.”

The pair competed in pistol—both in the outdoor bullseye and .22 events, and the air pistol offerings.

“I just went to the Nationals for fun,” Christian said. “My goal was not to be last in any competitions I shot.”

He decided not to put any real expectations on himself for his competition performances. In fact, he had only practiced four days before the matches using the family pistol and ended up shooting all the air matches and final with a rented air pistol. But, to his amazement, Christian well surpassed the bar he had set for himself after finishing as the sixth highest junior overall in the CMP National Air Pistol Junior Championship.

“When I found out I was in the finals, I was definitely surprised, and that caused excitement,” he said. “But I was pretty calm knowing that no matter how I shot, I had already reached my goal.”

Air pistol range
John Hughes is a Distinguished marksman with more than 30 years of experience. His son, Christian, surprised himself by earning a spot in the CMP National Junior finals in air pistol at Camp Perry last year.


The championship included a 60-shot qualifying match (Christian ended eighth overall), plus an elimination final to determine the overall winner.

The score of his first shot in his first-ever final? 10.7.

“I looked back at my dad, made eye contact with him, and we both started laughing,” Christian recalled of the moment. Now that I’ve seen what the competition world is like and I know what to expect and prepare for, next year, my goals will be set a lot higher.”

Besides the CMP National Air Pistol Championship, Christian also competed with his dad in the President’s Pistol Match, the National Trophy Individual Match and others.

Additionally, Christian participated in the Pistol Small Arms Firing School, where students learn fundamentals and safety in the classroom and on the range from military marksmanship instructors. His dad had taught him gun safety over the years, which made SAFS a good refresher on the basics, but more in-depth conversations in the course brought Christian new perspectives.

“I did learn a few techniques to improving accuracy when shooting and learned a lot about the mental side of shooting,” he said. “It was definitely a positive experience that even experienced shooters should go to at least once. My dad wasn’t able to go to the Small Arms Firing School, but I spoke to him about the course, and even he found some stuff really helpful and useful—and he’s been shooting in competition for probably more than 30 years.”

Prior to last year, Christian hadn’t visited the United States since December 2021. He and his dad made the trip back to the U.S. by flying Space-A (space available) through the military when seats opened up, which took them five days in total.

“Flying with firearms is pretty simple, but carrying necessities like ammunition—you’re only allowed to carry 11 pounds of ammunition on a plane, so we carried 11 pounds on the dot of .22 and .32 ammunition,” he explained.

The additional effort to compete at Camp Perry was a tiring process. They brought casings and bullets to reload the .45 ammo, since they couldn’t fly with enough to cover what they would need for competition. They also had to drive around for 10 hours after they arrived to get items they couldn’t fly with, such as powder and primers.

They brought along a Walther GSP Expert with both the .22 and .32 uppers and one air pistol from Spain. The rest of the pistols were picked up at Christian’s brother’s house in Denver the day before they flew out to Camp Perry. To add even more work, the two reloaded every night until 3:00 a.m. before their competitions.

“But we really enjoyed it,” Christian said. “It was well worth it. We both had a great time, met great people, and, for me—I turned an experience that was meant to just be for fun into a common hobby with my dad.”

Currently, Christian is off accomplishing a dream that he’s had since he was four years old—following in his father’s footsteps in the U.S. Navy.

“If I’m done with all my schooling for the Navy and my future command allows me to take some time off, we will most definitely be going again next year,” Christian said. “We have unfinished business.”

Learn more about CMP at thecmp.org.


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