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 1189 shooter's 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 that. 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.

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Army marksmen dominate from one end of Camp Perry to the other at NRA High Power week

2014 NRA Mid-Range Rifle Championship at Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - Running one range over at Camp Perry, alongside this year's NRA High Power Rifle Championship, is the NRA Mid-Range Rifle Championship.

Still sporting wet paint, the championship was introduced at least year's National Matches and is shot F-Class, which is target shooting with scope sights and artificial support (e.g. bipods and slings). F-Class was created by older High Power shooters who wanted to keep up the sport but needed assistance to zero in on the targets and keep their rifles steady. Over the years the sport grew to attract young shooters looking to ease into High Power shooting and has developed quite a following.

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High winds keep targets grounded at NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships

Wind flags at Camp Perry during the 2014 NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships

Port Clinton, Ohio - The scores for this year's High Power Rifle Championship and Mid-Range Rifle Championship are going to be a little lower than normal. No, shooters haven't suddenly become more inaccurate than last year. It's because unrelenting winds bore down on Camp Perry today, making it impossible to hold any matches.

But Camp Perry is known for it's punishing heat, out-of-nowhere storms, and wind, right? At 20 miles per hour and gusting up to 28 mph, today's wind was ripping the targets clean off their frames and even cracking a couple. And that was for the brief time they even tried putting the targets up.

More on what today's cancellation means for the National Matches ...

Gusts break frames, rip targets, delay start of matches

2014 Army Cup at the NRA National High Power Championship, presented by Remington, at Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - For the first time in history, Camp Perry's High Power Championships and Mid-Range Championships are delayed due to wind.

Notorious for it's occasional brutal conditions, the National Matches experienced blasts so strong this morning that targets were strewn across the range. Start time for the Appreciation Cup, the day's first match, has been pushed back to noon ... if the winds subside. Should shooting resume before the wind fully dies down, expect some interesting scores as competitors are forced to wrestle with the wind.

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Army marksman holds on to first as defending champ pulls into second at NRA High Power Championship

SSG Shane Barnhart of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit at the NRA High Power Rifle Championships, presented by Remington

Port Clinton, Ohio - Following a tough day on the range that was was split by a rain delay mid-afternoon, SSG Shane Barnhart of the USAMU held his point lead and remains atop the scoreboard half-way through the 2014 High Power Championship.

Now sporting a 1193-64x out of a possible 1200 points, Barnhart shot a 595-28x during today's Navy Cup, Coast Guard Trophy, and Army Cup matches. Barnhart's lead is three points over second place, which now belongs to USAMU teammate and defending High Power national champion SSG Brandon Keith Green and his score of 1190-58x.

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Competitors approach half-way point of High Power's National Championship

2014 NRA High Power Rifle Championship at Camp Perry, Ohio

Port Clinton, Ohio - Ominous rain clouds hang over Camp Perry's ranges today as the High Power Rifle Championship soldiers on through its second day.

Sunday's three matches have competitors beginning at 200 yards with the slow fire, standing match of the Navy Cup, before taking a seat - or knee - for the rapid fire Coast Guard Trophy. Shooters then move all the way back to 600 yards for the Army Cup, a slow fire match shot from the prone position. Every match in the High Power Championships consists of 20 shots, all at once in a slow fire match and broken into two 10-shot strings when doing rapid fire.

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USAMU poised to take Mumma Trophy home for the second consecutive year

SSG Shane Barnhart of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit at the NRA High Power Rifle Championships, presented by Remington

Port Clinton, Ohio - With one day down and three to go in this year's NRA National High Power Rifle Championship, SSGT Shane Barnhart of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit is out in front with an early lead, racking up a 598-36x of today's 600 possible points.

A win for Barnhart, who was one half of the top two-man team in Thursday's Remington/NRA 2nd Amendment Team Match, would be the first High Power Rifle title in an impressive shooting career that includes one NRA National Smallbore Prone win and three NRA National Smallbore 3-Position championships. The other member of Barnhart's winning team, defending High Power champion SSG Brandon K. Green, currently sits sixth with a 595-38x.

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