Camp Perry, Ohio - Almost a week after Tarl Kempley claimed his first championship at Camp Perry, the National Matches had another first.
Captain Christopher Abalo of Fort Mitchell, Alabama and member of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit won his first NRA overall title in the NRA Smallbore Rifle Prone Championship, claiming the prestigious Critchfield Trophy with a score of 4792-352x.
In only his third time competing at Camp Perry, Abalo finished second behind teammate SSG Shane Barnhardt in 2010 and third behind teammate SSG Michael McPhail and Mark Delcotto in 2011.
"It feels great," Abalo said of his first win. "After coming in second and third the last two years, it feels great to be at the top of the podium this time."
Reya Kempley, Tarl's sister, came in second by just two points, shooting a 4790-363x. Rounding out the top three was Michael Anti and his total aggregate of 4787-350.
Comprised of a Metallic Sight Championship and Any Sight Championship, the Prone Championship saw improved weather from the previous week's Position Championships. Conditions stayed dry for the most part, but the wind coming off Lake Erie was still a force to contend with and often made life difficult for the almost 300 shooters taking part in the matches.
Abalo's championship run began by taking first in the Metallic Sight Championship, the first of the two, establishing a three-point lead over Reya Kempley. Although coming in third for the Any Sight Championship behind 2009 Smallbore Prone champion and teammate SGT Joseph Hein and Kempley, Abalo only lost one point from his lead over Kempley, hanging on to take the overall aggregate.
Some of Abalo's teammates couldn't make last week's matches as they were in London, England, representing the United States. When asked how he thought the US would fair in the shooting events, Abalo said "I wish them the best of luck and hope they do great. We have a great team over there and I expect great things from them."