Jude Cuddy, an occasional contributor to The Ready Line, competed once again at the National Matches this summer at Camp Perry. The Matches, organized by the Civilian Marksmanship Program with assistance from the National Rifle Association and the Ohio National Guard, brings together some of the best shooting competitors from every corner of the U.S., even from other parts of the planet.
Standing, seated or prone, civilians compete next to active duty military personnel. On the line you might have a plumber, a cop, a salesman, a member of the U.S. Navy marksmanship team, a retiree, a college student, a cattle farmer, and even a high school student. Unlike golf, there are no "ladies tees." No special line for younger shooters, no handicapping for less experienced shooters versus Army marksmen and markswomen. But, like golf, you don't compete against others. You compete against yourself, firing your best score and then comparing your results with hundreds of others on the line that day, or that week.
In his piece, Jude reflects upon his week and a half on the shores of Lake Erie, what it means to compete there, and why the very thought of of the phrase "let every man be armed" strikes such a raw nerve among those whose motivation to get involved in government is "control."
For you see, that phrase -- and that last word -- are in total contradiction with one another. I'll let Jude explain, in another of his brilliant essays . . . From Behind The Berm.
One year later and one year older, the annual sojourn to the storied Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio had concluded. Yet another memorable experience that reaffirms the responsibility that we all have as citizens to exercise our God-given rights, and to preserve, protect and defend the nation and our way of life.
What is newsworthy is what did not happen during the many weeks that the facility was packed with small arms of all descriptions: smallbore rifle, black powder rifles, pistols and of course the favorite scapegoat of the liberals – the Service Rifle. Popularly vilified as the root of all social evils, this fine instrument that protects our life and liberty was present in the thousands.
However, there was no elevated police presence, no riot gear, nor tear gas present. What the left assigns to the presence of firearms – carnage, mayhem, bloodshed and unruly mobs - never materialized. Quite the opposite occurred. I suspect that crime is actually lower than usual – which is probably fairly low to begin with – during the entire time the shooting sports are taking place. Millions of rounds were fired and no one was injured. Should there be something wrong?
What this underscores is the self-discipline, self-policing conduct of all participants involved. What will never be acknowledged by those clamoring for yet more gun control laws is that it is the individual who is responsible for his or her own conduct – not the instrument of choice. In the “Age of Blame” where there is always someone or something at fault – those engaged in the shooting sports are willing and expected to be answerable for themselves alone.
In the general demographic one can sadly conclude that we are no longer a nation of riflemen. But as long as there are those willing to display the necessary skill and dedication to engage in the shooting disciplines you will find solid citizens who reflect the values that this country was founded upon. Personal responsibility and accountability are a way of life.
I tip my hat to those fellow participants – regular folks from around the nation and world – who firmly believe in the right to keep and bear arms. Many are the same men and women who are currently serving our country and keeping us “safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic." Not the sinister, recluse loners the media portrays us to be, but everyday Americans passionate about exercising their rights affirmed by our Declaration and Bill of Rights.
Another successful trip to the shores of Lake Erie. Since nothing untoward happened it is therefore not newsworthy to the media types, and went unnoticed. Perhaps that is for the best, for what most shooters ultimately want is to just be left unfettered to engage in a very rewarding endeavor. Only those who fear citizen-soldiers that cultivate such skills would want to infringe the practice and possession of these same instruments.
Jude T. Cuddy