X marks the spot for Kevin Nevius of Gibsonburg, who has fired his way to his first national smallbore rifle prone championship in the 2008 National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry.
Nevius, who has been winning matches and sub-championships in the prone, or flat-on-your-stomach position, since at least 1997, last week took the top smallbore or .22 prize with a winning score of 6387-475X out of a possible 6400. A total of 291 shooters competed in smallbore prone.
He edged out Tarl Kempley of Carson City, Nev., who fired 6387-468X in the grueling 640-shot series of matches. Nevius captured first by accumulating a higher number of tie-breaking center-shot X tallies during the series.
Third place went to David Cramer of Aliquippa, Pa., at 6385-473X. He also was named senior champion.
It is the second straight year that the tie-breaking X-score has figured in Nevius shooting.
In 2007 he finished the prone .22 rifle matches at 6382-478X in a dead heat for third place with the legendary Lones Wigger Jr., the Babe Ruth of .22 rifle competition. But in the end Nevius got the nod for third by virtue of having high score at the further targets, 100 yards.
I ve been working at this for a long time, said Nevius yesterday. It s been a long hard road.
A competitive shooter for 19 years, Nevius, 45, is a member of the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association s champion smallbore team.
In the individual competition he was trailing Kempley by five points after the first two days of shooting with iron or non-optical sights. The subsequent any-sight matches were marked by 20 mph winds off Lake Erie.
It was really brutal, the champ said, noting that many shooters programs went south with the wind. I m blessed beyond measure. This year it was more luck than skill.
Dan Feldbusch, a National Rifle Association staff member at the matches, recalled meeting Nevius in 2006, when he finished third.
He wasn t mad that he got third. He was interested in praising his friend Paul [Gideon], who won the prone championship, Feldbusch said.
Gideon, of Gambier, Ohio, finished at 6383-452X this year to win the intermediate senior champion s title. As for Nevius this time, Feldbusch said, He was so happy.
In other news from the matches, Army marksman George Norton of Fort Benning, Ga., earlier claimed the national smallbore rifle three-position championship, firing 2374-151X out of a possible 2400 in another series in which the X-score was the determinant.
Second place went to Kyle Smith of DuBois, Pa., at 2374-122X. Michelle Bohren of Taylor, Mich., finished third just one point lower in score at 2373-140X. Smith won the civilian and junior titles and Bohren was the woman champion. Norton also was awarded the service title.
A total of 317 competitors fired three-position smallbore, which involves matches from prone, kneeling and standing positions.
Last and not least, former service shooter Brian Zins of Centreville, Va., notched his unprecedented ninth national pistol championship in the opening rounds of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches earlier this month.
Zins fired a 2643-131X out of a possible 2700 to best the field of 698 shooters. In second place was U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Henderson of Columbus, Ga., the 2006 national pistol champ, at 2634-117X. Third went to police Capt. Philip Hemphill of Clinton, Miss., at 2631-121X.
Zins also was named civilian champion, Henderson took the service title and Hemphill the police title.
The championship is determined by the aggregate score of .22, centerfire and .45 pistol matches. To win the aggregate title, Zins won the .22 championship at 891-52X, took second in centerfire at 880-44X to Hemphill s winning 890-44X, and second in .45 at 872-35X to Henderson s 875-35X.
The largest of the matches in terms of number of competitors, high-power rifle, gets under way Monday.
Warm-up high-power matches begin Thursday with an M-1 Carbine Match, followed Friday by a Springfield/Military Bolt Rifle Match, Saturday with the M-1 Garand Match, and Sunday with the NRA/Springfield Armory M1A Match.
The high-power competition, some of which includes ultra-precise shooting out to 1,000 yards, continues through Aug. 13. Camp Perry is located off State Rt. 2 just west of Port Clinton on Lake Erie. Visitors are welcome.
Michigan wild turkey hunters have until Friday to apply for a fall turkey hunting permit.
A total of 59,050 permits will be available through a lottery for the various units open to hunting. The season will run from Oct. 6 through Nov. 14. Regulations are the same as in 2007, with drawing results to be posted on-line on Aug. 28. Mail applicant will be notified before Sept. 5.
Leftover permits by unit will be available over the counter Sept. 11 for unsuccessful applicants. Any leftovers as of Sept. 18 will be available to any hunter. For details visit on-line at michigan.gov/dnr.