Kerrin's #1 Story from 2011 - Hemphill takes top honors at Camp Perry
I’ve known for a while that I would have to choose my top five stories of 2011, and for the past few months, I had been mulling over which stories to include, shuffling the events in my mind over and over again. But since July, I have known which story I would pick for the top spot: Philip Hemphill winning his first NRA National Pistol Championship.
Sure, he’s well-known in the shooting community as legend at the NRA National Police Shooting Championships, having won 10 National Champion titles with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. But at the National Pistol Championships at Camp Perry, Hemphill had always fallen prey to the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” stereotype. He has many top five finishes under his belt, but until 2011, the title of National Pistol Champion had eluded him. When I chose my top contenders for the 2011 National Pistol Championships, Hemphill went straight to the top of my list.
Once we got to Camp Perry and the competition began, Hemphill and his fellow shooters faced some rough shooting conditions including blazing heat and high winds. During the Preliminary Pistol Championship, Hemphill placed 4th with a score of 872-42X, just five points behind winner and 2-time National Champion SFC Jim Henderson of the Army Marksmanship Unit.
As we moved into the .22 Caliber Championship, the scores among the top finishers were so close, that only the X count separated the pack. One single “X” bumped Hemphill into 4th place again after shooting an 882-37X. Hemphill found himself in 4th place again following the Center Fire Championship after scoring 869-30X, leaving just the .45 Caliber Championship to boost his scores.
The final day of competition left Hemphill taking third in the .45 Caliber Championship with a score of 881-46X. But despite his previous finishes in the week, his consistent shooting gave him a totaled score of 2632-113X, earning him his very first title of NRA National Pistol Champion.
He assured me he’ll be back in 2012 to defend his title, but is he going to try to pick up nine more National Pistol Champion titles to match his 10 titles from the National Police Shooting Championships?
“We’ll just see about that,” said a grinning Hemphill.