By Lars Dalseide | July 19 2013 08:11

Missing early secures rifle win at NRA Nationals in Camp Perry

Competitors for the Any Sight Prone Championships shoot off set their targets at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - The first match of the day gave way to the last match of the day here at the NRA National Smallbore 3-Position Championships in Camp Perry. The first match, shooting from the prone position with any sight, ended in three way perfection. For not only were three shooters tied for first, they were tied with a perfect score of 400-40x (the x stands for bullseyes).

"Not something you see every year," said Match Director H.Q. Moody. "Not something you see for a lot of years."

Perfect scores meant there was a chance to chase the National Record. All you have to do is keep hitting bulls until the cows come home. Nothing like carving your name into a little bit of NRA history, aye? For one of these three shooters — Reya Kempley, Joseph Hall, and Michael McPhail — immortality was in reach.

That's when the weather returned.

Lightening breaks up the Smallbore Rifle Prone Shoot-off

Day One of the NRA Smallbore 3-Position Championship was called to a halt when lightening struck ... a common occurrence at the NRA Matches. So why should Day Two be any different?

Lightening struck again as Kempley, Hall and McPhail made their way to the shoot-off. Calling for a fifteen minute break, officials, spectators and staff scattered for shelter. One shooter, Reya Kempley, decided to use the break to take care of a few last minute items. A decision that almost cost her dearly.

Competitors on the firing line at the Any Sight Prone Championships shoot off at Camp Perry

For the storm, quite unexpectedly, changed its path. In an attempt to avoid any future breaks in the action, officials called for shooters to return to the line. A three minute preparation period was announced. But Reya was gone.

Friends and family scattered in all directions. To the headquarters, registration, stat office ... anywhere they could think of. But Reya was no where to be found. With less than a minute to go, Reya returned to the range. Just in time to set up her targets and take a shot at history.

Starting and stopping the Smallbore Rifle Prone Shoot-off

Joseph Hall of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at the NRA Smallbore Championships It wasn't the pressure.

That's not the reason Reya was the first to exit the smallbore shoot-off. With multiple titles to her name, she's dealt with pressure before. She's smacked it around, tossed it in a closet and threw away the key. What pulled her off target, according to one spectator, was probably the late arrival.

"There's a lot of adrenaline pumping through her body," said the spectator from Virginia. "The late arrival, the rush to the line. It's a lot to overcome."

Despite her attempt to rush back for action, Reya would have to settle for third. It would be left to the boys.

Crowning a Smallbore Rifle Marksman on the Army Marksmanship Unit

This is where things got, well, confusing.

McPhail and Hall continued to shoot. Both, however, had an early miss. Not a miss of the target, but a miss of the bullseye. A nine instead of a ten. Instead of inside the ten ring. So while the National Record was no longer in reach, the hunt for the Any Sight Prone match title was. And so they kept shooting.

With 20 shots fired (not including sighters), both ended with what appeared to be a score of 199-19x. Sound like a tie, right? Wrong. Here's how you figure this out (and excuse me if I mess it up).

If two shooters shoot the same score while missing at least one bullseye, the person to miss the bulls first wins. Yes, I know, but it's not sudden death. You still have to shoot all twenty shots. So how do you figure out who shot what when?

Simple ... or so they told me.

The shooter fires five shots on four targets. Rotating from one to the next, a miss on the first target when your opponent misses on the last target means you win. Reason being that it's more difficult to hit ten in a row at the end of a match (due to fatigue) than it is at the beginning of a match. And the first one to miss was Hall.

All the training, all the trouble, all the delays and anticipation felt throughout the day came down to one simple fact — it's okay to miss, as long as you miss first.

For more on NRA's Competitive Shooting Programs, visit their website at


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