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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

Cleland big with little .22

It turns out that Chad Cleland, the well-known national muzzle loading rifle champion from Swanton, is not half bad with a .22 rifle either.

He is good enough, in fact, to win an informal national match.

On Sunday Cleland fired his way to first place in the T-class, or optical sight division, of the Civilian Marksmanship Program's Rimfire Sporter Match at Camp Perry, where the 103rd National Rifle and Pistol Matches are under way.

Cleland Cleland
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Cleland fired a 591-32X out of a possible 600 score to best a field of 212 shooters in this, the CMP's fifth annual Rimfire Sporter Match. The X-score refers to perfect center-shot bull's-eyes and is tallied to break possible ties in numerical scores. As it turned out Cleland just edged Ron Springsteen, of Otsego, Mich., who fired a 590.

And to show that the proverbial apple does not fall far from the tree, Cleland's 13-year-old son, Ben, placed 16th in the T-class match at 578.

Eric Curavo, of Northwood, was top junior in the O-class, or open-sight division, with a 552.

Cleland has won multiple national titles and championships in muzzle loading rifle matches, which were held for several years at Camp Perry but which this year were moved to Friendship, Ind., home of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

"About anybody can do it," said Cleland about competing in the .22 sporter match. "You just take your .22 rifle from home and go shoot. You don't need heavy shooting jackets or anything."

Rimfire Sporter is a recreation-oriented competition with sporter-class .22 rifles that weigh no more than 7 1/2 pounds. It consists of 60 rounds fired slow-fire and rapid-fire from prone, sitting, and offhand or standing positions from 25 and 50 yards.

"It's a fun shoot," said Cleland. "About everybody's got a .22. It's a squirrel hunter's dream match." Take note for next summer's match.

In the formal national matches, the prone phase of smallbore or .22 rifle target competition is under way and is set to conclude this week. A Small Arms Firing School for civilian version of the M-16 service rifle is set for the weekend, followed by several matches leading up to high-power rifle match competition.

The National Matches, which continue through mid-August, are open to visitors. Camp Perry is off State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton along Lake Erie in Ottawa County.

In earlier competition, U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. James Henderson, of Festus, Mo., won his first national pistol championship with an aggregate score of 2643-134X.

Henderson, who was runner-up several times in past competition, finally bested the seven-time national champion, U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Zins, of King George, Va. Zins fired a 2641-141X.

Observers said the title came down to the last five shots.

With a win Zins could have broken his tie with the legendary Bill Blankenship at five consecutive titles. Zins already is the all-time top title-holder with seven national championships.

The title is based on the combined scores for .22, centerfire, and .45 pistol competition. About 700 shooters competed in the pistol phase of the matches.

In the smallbore or .22 rifle three-position competition, Maj. Michael Anti, of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., took top honors for the third time with a score of 2311-96X.

The tally represents the combined scores of metallic-sight and any-sight matches having a total possible score of 2400.

Along the way Anti set a Camp Perry smallbore record, besting his own previous record of 2303-91X in 1994. Nearly 400 marksmen competed in these matches, which involve offhand or standing, sitting, and prone positions.

Anti outshot his AMU teammate, Sgt. Shane Barnhart, the 2005 three-position champ, who this year fired a 2304-93X.

Twenty-year-old Kimberly Chrostowski, a shooter on the University of Nebraska's NCAA team, finished third at 2263-71X to take the women's, collegiate, and junior titles.

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Ohio hunters have until Monday to apply for draw-only special deer and waterfowl hunts for the coming fall seasons.

Hunts are planned for NASA/Plumbrook, Ravenna Arsenal, Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge; Mosquito Creek, Killdeer Plains, and Mercer state wildlife areas; Old Woman Creek Preserve; and Lake Katherine State Nature Preserve.

Early-season muzzle loader deer hunts are planned for Salt Fork, Wildcat Hollow, and Shawnee State Forest public hunting areas.

Apply on-line at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife or call 1-800-WILDLIFE.



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