By Lars Dalseide | August 12 2012 08:04

Anderson and Whidden first to win NRA Long Range Rifle matches

NRA Score keepers during Long Range Rifle shootoff at Camp Perry Championships

Port Clinton, Ohio - The first day of NRA's Long Range High Power Rifle Championships closed with a pair of shoot offs for the Mustin and Band of Brothers trophy matches. Won by John Whidden and Norman Anderson, respectively, shoot offs take top performers from the day's match and allow them to duke it for top honors in similar wind and weather conditions.

Here at Camp Perry, there are four relays (or groups) of competitors who shoot during a Long Range Rifle match. Some have .308 palma rifles, some have service rifles, and the rest are classified as any rifles. They shoot in the rain, in the sun and the wind. Top scorers from each relay (one from each rifle class) are brought together at the end of the day. They recruit a man (or woman) to work the pits, they recruit a scorer and set up shop. Then the fun begins.

NRA Competitor gathering himself during High Power Rifle shootoff at Camp Perry Championships

First the crowd gathers. NRA Officials no longer at work, competitors no longer in the hunt, and associates there to cheer on their mates find a spot along the yellow tape that encircles the event.

Then the announcement — Competitors to the line — echoes over the loud speaker. With rifle, accessories and hope in hand, shooters find a suitable spot for fire. Trusting in the scorer over their shoulder, they gauge three sighter shots before shooting for score. Ten shots later and its done.

Working the bolt during NRA Long Range High Power rifle championships

High score wins. If scores are tied, we go to the Xs. If we're tied with the Xs, then we go to a shot for shot elimination round. Eventually the winner is named, the crowd applauds and a smile is formed.

Now most people would expect the any rifle to win any shoot-off. Why? Because those are the highly customized, supped up space guns that are specifically fit to the individual competitor. But hat wasn't the case for Remington's "Band of Brothers" match. That Long Range Rifle contest was won with a service rifle. Nobody's fault ... except for Norman Anderson from the US Army Reserve Team.

Winners of NRA's Long Range High Power Rifle matches in Camp Perry

US Army Reserve shooter Norman Anderson wins the Band of Brothers shootoff at NRA Rifle Championships

Walking up and down the line, I mistakenly crowned winner after winner ... just in my mind of course. This guy went ten for ten. He must of won. Oh, wow — this guy went ten for ten with 5 Xs. The real winner! Nope. The true winner of the Band of Brothers match was Norman Anderson and his trusty service rifle. He had them all beat. Too bad he was all the way at the end of the line or he could have saved me the trouble.

Going ten for ten on his shots, Anderson mesmerized the crowd by adding 7 Xs to his numbers. Good thing he did as there were two other competitors who went ten for ten. They just couldn't reach his X count.

Georgia's John Whidden wins NRA's Mustin Trophy match during Long Range Rifle championships

The Mustin Trophy match was a little different. With a number of past NRA rifle champs in the mix, there was no telling who'd come out on top. And the international competitors (like Day One leader David Calvert) were nothing to sneeze out either. Leave it up to John Whidden, three times a belt winner at NRA Long Range High Power, to sneak in and steal the show.

Just like Anderson, Whidden went a perfect ten for ten in his Mustin shootoff with plenty of Xs to spare. He shook a few hands, posed for a few pictures, packed up the rifle and disappeared into the crowd.

Now this was only day one, but boy what a day. The guns are already firing on the Viale Range so it's time to get back to the action. Stay tuned.

John Whidden poses with rifle after winning NRA's Mustin Trophy shotoff

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