By Kyle Jillson | July 6 2012 11:52

The Irish Bagpipe Band led the 
competitors from the final shots at the 1,000 yard line back to the awards table, like victorious warriors of a bygone era

The Creedmoor match is the oldest in NRA history with its roots tracing back to the 19th century. Larry Bartholome was a member of a U.S. team that recently traveled to Ireland and shared with Shooting Sports USA his experience shooting the first Creedmoor match on the Emerald Isle in 136 years. 

Red, White and Blue in the Land of Green
By Larry Bartholome 

In 1875, an American rifle team set sail for Dublin to compete against the best long range shooters in Ireland. The Irish had come to the Creedmoor range in New York the year before and lost to the fledgling American Team. At the time, the Irish were considered the finest in the world. In the 1875 re-match, the Americans won again.

Now fast forward to June, 2011. For the first time in 136 years, American long range shooters returned to Dublin to compete in the Creedmoor Match. Even though the match held in 1875 was a long time ago, the friendship between the two countries has not changed one bit.

This re-match was brought about by a challenge from past NRA President John Sigler, issued to the NRA of the Republic of Ireland (NRAI), on behalf of U.S. F-Class shooters. The Irish readily accepted Sigler’s challenge and stepped up work on their new 1,200-yard range near Tullamore, County Offay, RoI. The Midlands National Shooting Centre of Ireland proved to be a challenge. The range is built on a peat bog and the mirage can at times be a bit thick, but the winds are the major problem. The weather in Ireland seems to be in constant motion, with one wave of weather after another coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

The victorious U.S. team

Before the competitions began, our Irish hosts bused all the competitors and families to the original site of the 1875 meeting, as they call it—the beach at Dollymount Strand in Dublin Bay. To stand on that long, flat beach with the wind blowing your hair about while visualizing what happened there 136 years ago, was a moving experience. After group photos and viewing some of the original medals and score cards, we re-boarded the buses for a trip to the Dublin town hall. There, past NRA President Sandra Froman presented a silver commemorative cup to the Deputy Lord Mayor and NRAI officials. After appropriate speeches and a reception, talk turned to shooting and who was going to beat who in the coming days.

Let me say the Irish in general and the shooters in particular were extremely gracious hosts. During our stay, the people went out of their way to be nice. Not just the shooters, but every person on the street. If I could, I would go back tomorrow. After a fashion, they even speak English we can understand. For those that didn’t go, the Guinness Brewery and Tullamore Dew Distillery were eye openers and, yes, they had free samples.

The competition was broken down into three parts: The Irish Open Championships for individuals were shot over two days; the one-day European/USA Team Match and the two-day, 16-man Creedmoor Team Match. Eleven USA F-Open and eleven USA F/TR competitors entered the two days of individual shooting. The weather was cool, damp and quite windy for this first phase with gusts topping 25 mph. The course-of-fire was two sighters (convertible) and 15 for record at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards each day.

At the end of the first day, Bob Bock of Brewster, NY, held a one point lead in F-Open over John Brewer from Jackson, MS, Rick Jensen from Colorado and Larry Bartholome, El Paso, TX. Bock dropped one point at 800 and 900 and four at 1,000 yards for a 219-23V. In 5th and 6th places were Liam Fenion and Conor Murphy from Ireland, two and three points back respectively. It was still anyone’s game.

The team match was held on the last day when, as it did 136 years ago, the sun finally broke out

The V-ring is 5 inches in diameter, the 5-ring—10 inches, the 4-ring—20, 3-ring—32 and the rest of the 44-inch black bull is worth 2 points. Any hit outside the black counts as one point on the six foot square target. Yes, Martha, they shoot on the ICFRA 5V target when you leave the USA and it is a difficult target.

Read the entire Shooting Sport USA article online now.

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