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Josh Wayner
The Civilian Marksmanship Program has long been a governing body in the arena of shooting competitions around the country. For some, the National Matches at Camp Perry seem like a mythical fantasy land where famous marksmen made history, surely not the territory for a lowly pleb like you. Well that, dear reader, is where you’re wrong . . .

This series of articles will cover everything you will need to know about competing in CMP games and events using what are arguably the most interesting guns available today: historical military rifles.

It was a dream of mine to go to Camp Perry ever since I first pulled a trigger. I grew up watching Nazis and Russians battle it out and simply had to have a part of that history in my hands. Lucky for me, a Mosin-Nagant and a case of 440 rounds was only $100 away. I put so many rounds through my first Mosin that I broke the firing pin from use. Even my meager job at Subway was enough to buy me literally tens of thousands of rounds. I shot the crap out of that gun and built up a serious tolerance for recoil.

I fell in love with every old rifle I saw. You know what it is that I speak of. That feeling when you recognize the muzzle of your favorite kind of rifle on a rack at a gun show. It’s that glint in your eye when you see that pristine old Mauser come out of a gun case. It is a special feeling second only to the smell of cosmoline on your hands after a long night fondling your prize.

Half the fun of CMP competition is getting an old warhorse up and running and seeing how it can do. These aren’t just another AR build. They’re are a dime a dozen. That old Enfield has a soul. It’s seen some history. That rifle is like you. It’s an individual, the survivor of many trials and tribulations and it can be yours forever for only a few hundred dollars. That’s what makes this fun.

Over ten years after my first trip to Nationals I sit happily banging away on my keyboard with 13 medals from Camp Perry hanging on my wall. I may be only 26, but I’m a grizzled CMP veteran. So let’s ride the highways of northern Ohio to our very own ballistic Valhalla.

Josh Wayner
7.5×55 Match Handloads

Since this is the first in this series of articles, we’ll start with what you need and don’t need. We’ll get into specifics as we go on. This article marks the time of the year when you should be beginning preparations for Camp Perry or other major competitions.

Camp Perry’s CMP week isn’t until end of July. Why should we begin now? You may not believe me, but it really does take that long to prepare. To be taken seriously as a competitor in CMP, you’ll need one or all of the following rifles:

-Remanufactured M1 Garand
-Remanufactured 1903A3 fitted with C stock and 1903 metal parts
-Swiss K-31 7.5×55 or Swedish M96 Mauser 6.5×55 in NRA 95%+ condition

As far as gear goes, you’ll want the following items.

-Spotting scope
-Quality shooting coat
-Quality shooting glove
-Sweat-wicking underlayer
-Adjustable sling
-Match-grade ammunition
-Ear plugs (Not muffs…this is important and I’ll get to it later.)
-Glasses that allow you to see clearly. Colored lenses are for chumps and I’ll tell you why.
-Hat that doesn’t restrict bloodflow around your head
-Shooting mat
-100 and 200 yard practice targets and pasters
-Chamber flags
-Stripper clips for your rifle

What your body will need is also of critical importance to doing well in competition. Maintaining yourself is paramount to winning. CMP is a very individual sport and you will be tested in both endurance and pain tolerance.

-LOTS of water
-Regular exercise including upper body workouts
-Yoga (Don’t laugh. There isn’t a better way to build balance and calm the mind. It also serves to build a stable core for offhand shooting.)
-Focused mindset. Avoiding frustration is the name of the game in CMP, so be calm always.

There are many things you won’t need in this game. You’ll see people wearing or carrying some of them around even at local matches. I’ve been a serious CMP competitor for a long time and this is what you will never need to have if you do this right:

-Fifteen sweaters. Yeah, you know who you are. Piling on hoodies on a 90 degree day is a sure way to get heatstroke. For the uninformed, people do this to add layers under their shooting coats. It makes for more padding to reduce sling fatigue on the arm or to reduce recoil. This is totally unnecessary. Get a fitted shooting coat and you won’t need to bundle up. I’ve also shot all of my gold and silvers barefoot or in flip-flops. Stay comfortable and stay cool. Overheating will ruin your game.

-Historical military uniforms. Sure, it can be fun to look like an extra on the set of a John Wayne movie, but, have fun in all that wool. The rest of us will be just fine without it.

-Baby strollers and other contraptions used to haul gear to the line. There are so many variations of this idea out there that it’s an anthropologist’s dream to see all of it on display in one place. If you do it right, you shouldn’t need more than a day pack and lunch cooler, both of which should be easy for you to carry since you’re going to start working out soon, right?

-Old or sub-par ammunition. Surplus is fine for fun, but not on the line during competition.

-A bad or know-it-all attitude. There are a few mean and ignorant people in this sport who don’t know what to do when someone does something they disagree with. Range Nazis are my pet peeve wherever. These people hate the idea that ‘outsiders’ are a part of this sport who are happy to ignore their vast wisdom.

-Don’t bring lemonade. No seriously. It isn’t a substitute for water and neither is Gatorade or any of that flavored water nonsense. Avoid PowerThirst for obvious reasons. Soda is also a no-go. If you must drink something other than H2O, get some kind of non-caffinated tea. Also, eat real food rather than energy bars. It takes only a minute to pack a sandwich and a couple of apples and you will benefit from it.

Josh Wayner
200 Yard Line at Camp Perry

So now you have a general idea about what to bring and what not to. More on the whys behind all of this in future installments.

Check out some local clubs and see if they have a CMP league or run practices. Finding people in the community is a good way to become a part of something and it will have a positive impact on your life and help you get better at what you want to do.

In the next article, we’ll go into detail on picking a CMP-grade rifle. What’s good and what isn’t on today’s surplus market. Camp Perry isn’t that far way away and I hope to see you there.

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  1. Anyone else getting all sorts of pop ups and spam when viewing this site using Chrome? It’s awful

    • “Adblock chrome”

      Now just copy and paste that^^ into google and click “Add Chrome Extension” whenever you first see it. You’re welcome

  2. Now THIS is a useful series! Time for some fun without infighting over politics. Looking forward to the rest.

  3. Bring it on!!!! Built me an M1 Garand at the CMP Custom Shop class in Anniston last year. But I have also been lusting lately for a nice K31 Swiss. Hmmmm.

  4. Ive been waiting for this series and BAM! Thar she is! Look forward to the rest! Where do you suggest getting a shooting jacket from? I am a member of our AZ State Rifle and Pistol club and they host CMP sanctioned events throughout the year and I have been wanting to just start out there so this may be the impetus for the babysteps and knowledge dump before the dream of the big show at Camp Perry

  5. If you go to Camp Perry for the high power events, don’t forget to bring your .22lr pistol and rifle. You and the the kids and grandkids will have an awesome match and a great time after at the match picnic. The sporter class small bore .22lr rifle is the first Saturday in July and the smallbore pistol is the following Tuseday. Take a walk down to the indoor Anderson range and try your had at 10 meter air rifle and air pistol. 80 firing points an a fully electronic scoring system.
    Senior Gun Owner 1950

  6. Received my Garand at the beginning of January and promptly learned that why you need to clean and grease your gun before you shoot it.

    Yeah, the bolt would stick, not wanting to close and then not wanting to cycle, eventually requiring loading each cartridge individually. But, it was still a blast. Got it home, gave it a cleaning and a living and I can’t wait to get back out there.

    Now I need to figure out if I should go with a Rock Ridge 1903 or pick up something older. I thought about the K31, but it’s a devil trying to find quality ammunition. The old surplus seems to be dried up (and was Berdan primed), not sure where to go for boxer.

    • The RUAG-made surplus GP11 ammo is very good but I haven’t seen any around lately. The Prvi rounds (as seen in the pic) are good, Boxer primed, and usually available. Try checking out SG Ammo.

    • You’ll have to hand load it. Graf’s had boxer brass. Lots of good info over at Swiss rifles.

  7. Don’t think that you need one of those three rifles, just about any WW II or earlier service rifle has a place at Camp Perry. They also have M1 Carbine matches. Check out CMP’s website for rules.
    Don’t have a vintage rifle, they have opened up the rules this year regarding AR-15s so maybe you have one that will fit in the modern service rifle matches. Again, check their rules. Another great shooting experience is their Small Arms Firing School run by the Army Marksmanship Unit, for both the M9 pistol and AR-15. You sign up for $40 or so (ages 18 and under even less) and they provide expert coaching, the gun and ammo and you compete in an “Excellence In Competition” event. The rifle class is two days.

    • Thanx, the rifle I have, had been sporterized,thank goodness they didnt scope it. I found stocks from numrich, they had c and straight. I went with the straight but knew most A3s were c. I thought maybe to compete it had to be original? Its the cheapie Smith Corona but I like it.

  8. I love camp perry, my favorite place to be. I shoot on the pistol side, but I’d like to try rifle some day.

  9. Reread artcle. This is good stuff. I have semiautos, but I like shooting my 03 much better, its fun. It gets alot of ” mind if I shoot it” from the AR guys too. Where can I find stripper clips for it? Got some from Numrich Arms years ago, r they still in buisness?

  10. For those who know, what is a good source for K31’s in terms of actually purchasing a rifle?

    • Its hard to find good K31 sources anymore. and aimsurplus are good, but theyve been out of stock for awhile. I got my k31 through classic, and its beautiful. Shoots like a much more expensive rifle. The trigger is two stage, with a long first stage and a crisp glass rod second break. Typically go cheap and run Privi ammo through it. Seems to shoot very well. Clips can be found at several places, mostly online. Ive had good luck through if you dont mind modern polymer clips. The swiss rifles blog is another good resource.

  11. I went to Perry as an NRA volunteer for the whole shebang each year from 2002-2007, had a ball. I was retired and my wife had a few years to go, turned me loose to have fun. Like 5 weeks of pistols, smallbore, hi-power and longrange, just lovely. You can get all the spotting scopes, jackets, gloves, mats, etc you’ll ever need at commercial row, I bought a National Match M1A and an Anschutz .17 HMR there as well, the wares available change to suit the event. CMP is handy for picking up bunches of surplus or milspec ammo, whatever guns are currently being available, maybe soon all those 1911s I keep hearing about. Thanks for the memories.

  12. Great article idea but imho (a) this article is nowhere near as intro as it claims to be and (b) this article is screaming for an editor…

    “using what are arguably the most interesting guns available today: historical military rifles.”

    blah/ meh/ what?

    “It was a dream of mine to go to Camp Perry ever since I first pulled a trigger. I grew up watching Nazis and Russians battle it out and simply had to have a part of that history in my hands. Lucky for me, a Mosin-Nagant…”

    Most of what MOST Americans saw of WW2 on TV or in the movies was about AMERICANS battling Nazis. And you don’t mention German Mausers of Russian Mosins as being used at Camp Perry… so…

    …Why not intro the article less about what brought you there but instead what Camp Perry is about?

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