Images from the 2014 NRA National Long Range High Power Rifle Championships

Spotter gauges the wind during NRA's Long Range High Power Rifle Championships at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - It's never easy to stand behind the big gun. Wait for the wind, brace for the recoil, breath when the moment calls for it and fire. It's a religious experience for some.

This week at NRA's Long Range High Power Rifle Championships, competitors faced these conditions and more as the wind and sun and rain of Camp Perry taxed each and every shooter to the extent of their limits. A majority of those who arrived buckled under the pressure. Though a few, a select few, managed to rise the occasion.

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New winners and old take to the stage for NRA titles

Team Remington Captain Ken Roxburgh with High Junior Waylon Burbach at the NRA Long Range Rifle Awards

Port Clinton, Ohio - A few hundred competitors, sponsors and NRA officials gathered at the Hough Theater last night for the 2014 NRA National Long Range High Power Rifle Championships. Some arrived to claim titles, others to congratulate their peers, it was a special night for all.

Led by Long Range Rifle Match Director Sherri Judd, the ceremony started 30 minutes behind the scheduled 8:00pm start time - another victim of yesterday's weather delay.

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Bests mom by a single X after delays cause cancellation of Palma's 900 yards

Michelle Gallagher wins the 2014 NRA Long Range High Power Rifle Championship Port Clinton, Ohio - Taking a page from Joe Hendricks' path to this year's High Power Rifle title, past NRA champ Michelle Gallagher shot a perfect 300-19x in today's Palma Match to win the 2014 National Long Range Rifle Championship.

Beginning the day two points down, Gallagher racked up fifteen 10s at 800 yards along with another fifteen 10s at 1,000. Though Palma traditionally includes a 900 yard phase as well, that portion of today's match was cancelled due to the morning's lightning storm.

"Talk about an exciting finish," said High Power Rifle Match Director Sherri Judd. "She hung in there after dropping a few points in the early rounds and finished strong."

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Three hour delay could force cancellation of Palma rounds - images

Shooter waits for the rain to clear at the NRA Long Range Championships

Port Clinton, Ohio - Weather came calling early this morning at the NRA Long Range Championships. I know, I know, weather is a constant no matter where you are. But its never appreciated unless the conditions are extreme. And yes, this morning, the conditions were extreme.

First came the winds, then the clouds, and finally the rain. Competitors were soon hustled off the field of play as the weather (yes I’m back to using weather as a catchall) stepped it up a notch with lightning strikes.

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4 NRA Long Range Champs within two points of title as rain & Palma phase closes finals

3-time NRA Long Range Rifle champ John Whidden on the 3rd day of the 2014 finals

Port Clinton, Ohio - There’s a leaderboard logjam on final morning of NRA’s 2014 Long Range High Power Rifle Championship. The top two shooters are separated by a single X. The next three by a point. The next four by two. And that’s just one of the obstacles today’s leader, Phillip Crowe, is facing.

Today there’s a call for rain. Rain and the ensuing winds Camp Perry happily provides throughout the summer championships means Crowe’s starting point of 798-47x is tenuous at best. One little gust, one drop of rain, any change at all in the bullet’s path drops a 10 to 9 … if you’re lucky.

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Wimbeldon, Aiken and Farr matches headed for a shootoff

Checking your scores for the Camp Perry shootoff

Port Clinton, Ohio - Things work a little different here at the NRA Long Range High Power Rifle Championships in Camp Perry. Sure you shoot for score and the top man (or woman) wins ... but only sort of. Because if you're going to walk away with one of the top trophies from these NRA matches then you have to win a shoot-off.

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Ideal conditions at National Rifle Matches sets stage for high scores

Shooter takes aim during the early rounds on day three at the NRA Long Range High Power Rifle matches at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - There are five days in NRA’s National Long Range High Power Rifle Championship. Five days of firing round after round at 6’ by 6’ targets up to 1,000 yards away. Five days of Camp Perry’s wind bouncing off Lake Erie while the sun fights to break through the occasional cloud.

Two sets of relays have already taken their respective Shooter Shuttles out to The Pits … home of those 6’ by 6’ targets. There competitors take their turn at lifting and lowering the behemoth paper squares with every shot. Once fired upon, the target is lowered, scored, and raised back into place.

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2010 Long Range High Power Rifle winner Sherri Gallagher traded range time for jump time

Sherri Gallagher with rifle and gear at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - A few years ago, Staff Sergeant Sherri Jo Gallagher was on top of the world. NRA National Long Range High Power Champion, Solider of the Year, and subject of a Sports Illustrated article that caller her “one bad ass girl”. It’s difficult to imagine a shooter achieving much higher acclaim. And then she was gone.

After years as of competitive shooting, holding a spot on the much heralded United States Army Marksmanship Unit, and representing her country in competitions abroad, Gallagher walked away from a signature passion into one few - beyond family and friends - in the firearm community would ever imagine.

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Perfect shooting propels Hendricks from fifth to first at National Championship

Joe Hendricks of Team Remington at the 2014 NRA High Power Rifle Championships award ceremony in Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - Joe Hendricks greeted the dawn of NRA's 2014 High Power Rifle Championship sitting in fifth place. But by sundown, the Team Remington shooter was the national champion. What happened in between is a shining example of consistency and perseverance.

Four points behind the leader, Hendricks was tied for third with a low x-count that placed him at the end of the 1189 shooters' list. Four points down doesn't put the title out of reach, but making up those points in one afternoon is no cakewalk. After all, everyone has been zeroed in for days by this point. For a chance, you have to shoot a perfect score and hope everyone else falters. In this case, with Hendricks and his four primary rivals, that is exactly what played out.

More on Joe Hendricks' 2014 High Power Championship win...

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