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The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Coming in second during Camp Perry’s 30 Shot Bench League behind Oak Harbor’s Kathy Tribble was Joyce Edwards, 65, of Marblehead, who fired a score of 296-21x,

“I had never shot a gun until about 11 months ago,” Edwards admitted. That was when she discovered the air range at Camp Perry. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it was going to be easy or hard. I thought the rifle was going to have a kick to it, and it doesn’t.””

After visiting the range with her husband, Phil, and firing a few shots downrange, she was hooked. She credits CMP staff members, like Kent Floro and Jackie Slosnerick, for helping her through the complexities of air rifle, such as sight picture, breathing and other marksmanship essentials.

“They’ve been wonderful. Kent talked me through it each time and said, ‘We’re going to do better this time.’ At first I thought that’s a lot of stuff to remember! But after a while, it gets to be routine,” she said.

When her husband went to air pistol, she started using his air rifle. With practice, she became better and better each time, and those around her encouraged her to sign up for the National Match event.

“Everyone said, ‘You know, you ought to try the matches.’ And I’m going, ‘Please, I’m just a housewife. I just come here to play around!’” she said with a smile.

Proving that she’s more than “just a housewife,” she not only surprised her husband and her children by placing second on the National-level, but also herself.

“I really never expected to get to this point, but it’s fun. I like it,” she said.

Proud husband Phil supports her accomplishments – framing her best shot and getting a shadow box for the pins she earns. Joyce’s bout with rheumatoid arthritis causes inconveniences every now and then, but overall, the air range has been a place for her to reach new goals.

“Here, I can get something accomplished. It’s a lot more mental exercise than physical exercise. That’s why I kind of like it. For a few hours, everything clears from my mind and I can concentrate on that,” she said.

“I was surprised when we first came. I expected to see a lot more younger people, but I see they’re our age. And they’re just coming here for a couple of hours to shoot off some pellets and have something to do. It’s exciting, it’s fun,” she added.

Boasted as one of the most advanced air ranges in the country, the competition center is host to hundreds of competitors from around the nation throughout the year. A short drive for Joyce, who visits at least once a week, she is astounded that such a revered spot for the shooting sports world exists only a few minutes away.

“This is in our backyard. I’m so surprised . . . all of these people from other states just coming here to do this. It blows your mind – you don’t realize how important this place is,” she said. “Everyone should come out and try it at least once. They might be very pleasantly surprised. This is amazing, and the people are so nice. To me, that’s what makes it fun.”

In the sporter match, Nora Gallagher, 65, bested a field of 83 competitors, firing a score of 297-18x.

Nora’s air rifle hobby, which began this past April, arose by happenstance when she came to the range looking for some information on her late father’s air rifles. While there, she and her husband, Bill, decided to try a little shooting for themselves.

“From there, we fell in love with it. We’ve been doing it ever since,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

She added, “It is harder than it looks though. There are unique challenges to it. But it’s something anybody can do. And I love this facility – it’s clean, it’s bright, and the people, the staff, they are fabulous.”

Nora said one thing that has really impressed her and her husband is seeing the diversity of the people who shoot on Open Public Nights. From those with disabilities to old and young families, the air range is a place for everyone to enjoy a night of fun.

“What a neat thing,” she said. “And maybe there are people out there who don’t know they can do this. We’ve seen children here with parents – that’s cool. We’ve seen children with grandparents – that’s cool. So it’s a great activity for families, very reasonably priced. It’s just a good time. It really is.”

For her 65th birthday, her husband surprised her with an air rifle of her own. Set with her equipment, she was free to hone her game for the National Match event – which is exactly what she did.

“If I can learn this at 65, and do it well, I think anybody can. That’s kind of interesting. I think that’s part of what I like,” she said. “It’s something people of all ages and abilities can do. That’s a pleasant surprise. And, [the facility] is beautiful.”

On top of the mental and physical benefits the air range provides, there is also a certain social aspect it presents as well. People from her community now go to the range with her on occasion, and Nora has also met more like her – those looking for a fresh interest, challenge and excitement.

“These women have become such good friends. I’ve met fabulous women here. But the guys have been great too,” she said. “I think it’s interesting that we can all compete on the same level. It’s not, you have to be a woman or you have to be a man. You can compete.”

Additionally, Michelle “Miki” Marciniak, 59, of Macomb, Mich., landed in second place behind Nora in the sporter competition as well as fourth overall in the precision match. Leading the next generation of talented female marksmen, Erica Voss, 22, of Wadsworth, Ohio, overtook the AiR15 30 Shot challenge with a score of 293-18x.

Open publicsShooting at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center at Camp Perry is open August through June, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5-8 p.m. For more information, visit http://thecmp.org/air/cmp-competition-centers/open-public-shooting/. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.

 

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