True champions never give up, whether it is the last stroke in a golf round or the last shot in a pistol match, and Brian Zins is living proof.
Just look at his unprecedented seventh overall and fifth consecutive title as national pistol champion, earned over the weekend at the 102nd National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry near Port Clinton. Some 700 shooters entered the pistol competition.
It really wasn't over until Zins, a marine gunnery sergeant from King George, Va., fired his last shot in the .45 pistol championship. Earlier he had finished second in the .22 championship, and though he won the high master police/service title in centerfire pistol, he was a few points down the score-list from the top three in the overall event.
But he won the .45 leg with a score of 885-30X out of 900, just edging out challenger and five-time national champion Steve Reiter, who fired an 884-35X. (The X-score refers to perfect center-shot or X-ring bull's-eyes and is tallied to break ties in numerical scores.)
When Zins' .45 score was added to his 893-43X second place in .22, and his 867-38X in centerfire, the marine gunny again was overall national champ with a three-leg total of 2645-111X out of a possible 2700. It was the fifth consecutive title for Zins, matching a five-straight run by the legendary Bill Blankenship 1960-64.
But now Zins steps into a limelight of his own with seven total national pistol titles, one ahead of the six won by Blankenship and earlier champions Harry Reeves and Huelet Benner.
Runner-up to Zins was James Henderson, an army reserve staff sergeant from Festus, Mo., who fired a three-leg score of 2637-137X. Henderson won the .22 championship at 897-60X.
Christopher Johnson of Libertyville, Ill., finished third overall and won the civilian championship at 2637-118X.
John Ennis, an army shooter from Quantico, Va., won the centerfire leg at 878-34X. In that competition, Toledo's Jim Lenardson, a three-time national pistol champion, won the title of high master/civilian at 869-36X.
In earlier competition, Kevin Warner of Wapakoneta was crowned national muzzleloading rifle champion, edging out perennial favorite Chad Cleland of Swanton among some 50 competitors.
Warner won the offhand championship at 255-1X out of a possible 300, and followed up with a victory in the hunter championship at 399-2X. The two are combined for the overall national title.
Cleland, who has won multiple national titles and individual championships, finished second in both offhand and hunter, firing 248-3X and 395-2X, respectively. "Chad is a good friend and a great competitor, and any day you can outscore him you are having a good day," said Warner.
Cleland's 12-year-old son, Ben, joined his dad in the Camp Perry winner's circle in his first competition there. He won the junior championship at 143-1X.
Warner also won the round ball championship at 219-1X. In the hunter championship, Ernest Clark of Bryan was high senior shooter at 355-3X.
In other muzzleloading events, Birdie Luma of Castalia, Ohio, finished second in the women's competition with 232-1X, while Gretchen Avery of Bowling Green took third at 191. The event was won by Vickie Shaffer of New Castle, Pa., who matched Luma's 232-1X but won on additional tie-breakers.
In the Civil War championship, Michael A. Luma of Castalia finished second at 518-3X and his son, Michael D. Luma, finished third at 506-3X.
Kim Best of Bluffton, Ohio, finished second in the muzzleloading pistol event at 534-7X, followed by Michael A. Luma at 534-6X. Avery was high woman scorer at 385-1X.
In the Revolutionary War championship, Michael D. Luma was first at 458-4X, Best second at 450-5X, and Michael A. Luma third at 450-4X.
The Matches are drawing some 4,800 competitors and hundreds of visitors.