Photo Information

Fred Gowen, a veteran from the battle of Hue City, 1968, during the Vietnam War, waits with a round in the chamber for his target to reappear, during the Vintage Sniper Rifle Matches, Aug., 1, 2012 aboard Camp Perry, Ohio. When the targets appeared competitors had 20 seconds to adjust their sites and send a round down range before the targets would disappear into the pits and reappear in 20 seconds for another shot. Competitors shot 10 rounds at the 300 and 10 rounds at the 600 in this manner.

Photo by Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne

Historic rifles shoot downrange once more

8 Aug 2012 | Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne

Approximately 500 competitors from around the world, some as far as Australia and Germany, brought their historic rifles to the firing line for the Vintage Sniper Rifle Match during the Civilian Marksmanship Programs National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2012.

All rifles used during the match were issued to service members during and prior to the Korean War; some of the World War II era weapons were the American M1903 Springfield, the Russian Mosin-Nagant, and the German Mauser.

Fred Gowen, a Marine Corps veteran of the battle of Hue City, Vietnam said these weapons are just as accurate as they were during their time.

When the M1 Garand replaced the M1903 Springfield in 1937, it was still used as the main sniper rifle during the end of World War II and into the Korean War.

All the rifles on the line were full of history with some rifles from Germany, Britain and France, Gowen explained.

This competition is important because you are holding history in your hands and commemorating the people in the various wars; World War I, World War II and Korea, who used the rifles in harms way, said Gowen, a North Reading, Mass., native and a competitor in the rifle match. Its a wonderful way to make all that visible and have fun at the same time.

The course of fire for the vintage match is different from the other matches at nationals, which allow competitors time to adjust sights. Each competitor fires 10 shots at the 300 and 600-yard line. When the target comes up, they have 20 seconds to fire their first round before the target goes back down for 20 seconds.

When the target reappears, the shooters have 20 seconds to spot their shot, make adjustments to their sights and fire another shot before the target goes down again.

Due to the course of fire, it is difficult to make adjustments for the wind, said Master Sgt. Julia Watson, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Shooting Team and Stafford, Va., resident.

Cpl. Neil Sookdeo, a member of the U.S Marine Corps Shooting Team, added that the ranges at Camp Perry have some of the strangest wind he has ever shot in.

The wind can be going 10 miles per hour from right to left and by the time you shoot and can switch to the opposite direction, he said.

Shooting for a two inch 10 ring at 600 yards in constantly changing winds is not an easy task, said Gowen.

First place went to Douglas Armstrong a civilian competitor from Lexington, N.C., who shot a perfect score of 200 out of 200 points, which means that every shot he fired landed in the 10 ring.

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