By Ashley Dugan, CMP Staff Writer
CAMP PERRY, Ohio – At only his second attempt, Sgt. Jonathan Wood, 38, ARNG, of Kennar, LA, cleaned up at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) 2023 National Rifle Games – racking up four individual titles, including within two culminating events.
During the competition series, part of the annual National Matches at Camp Perry, Wood claimed the Three-Gun and Four-Gun Aggregates for his combined outstanding performances in the Garand, Springfield, Vintage and Modern Military events. Admittedly, Wood hadn’t prepared much before arriving at Camp Perry in 2023, with only two competitions beforehand and little else.
“I actually don’t practice that much,” he said, incredibly. “I just don’t have the time. And I don’t like putting on a coat in Louisiana – it’s 100 degrees outside!”
Instead, his preparation is simple.
“I just come to Camp Perry and go for it.”
Wood nabbed the Three-Gun and Four-Gun titles from last year’s winner, Brian Williams, who landed in second in the 2023 Matches. Williams, 49, of Granby, MA, is also the current national record holder for the National Vintage Military Match.
Last year was Wood’s first year competing in the Games events, finishing in seventh in Three-Gun and missing the Four-Gun win by just four points behind Williams. He came into 2023 looking to turn the tables.
“It was my goal to beat him this year,” Wood admitted with a smile. “I didn’t expect to win four things though.”
Wood not only claimed the Aggregates but also earned the overall win in the National Modern Military Match and the Vintage Military Match using his own K31 rifle. Amazingly, it was his first time using the rifle in competition.
“I just love to shoot,” he said.
Wood has been shooting all his life. He participated in three-position air rifle in high school before a seven-year career in the Marine Corps, where he began training in service rifle and reached an Expert level. After leaving the Marine Corps in 2011, he joined the National Guard in January 2012. Meanwhile, he’s been following shooting competitions with his stepdad since he was a freshman in high school, hearing all about Camp Perry and the National Matches and setting the goal of one day making it there himself.
“For years, we’ve always wanted to go to Perry. We just never got around to it,” he said.
In 2022, the pair made it happen. They decided to compete together in the Rimfire Sporter Rifle .22 match, even though his stepdad hadn’t fired in a sitting position since 1988.
“It felt good to finally get here. It was a big bonding moment,” Wood said. “He had a blast, and he was just happy he didn’t come in last.”
Last year’s National Matches also marked Wood’s final points to earn his Distinguished Rifleman Badge as well as a second place finish in the prestigious President’s Rifle Match – astonishing accomplishments for an individual who only started competing in 2019.
That year, he entered his first match at CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama on a suggestion from a fellow Louisiana National Guard member. Unknowingly unprepared, he arrived with no shooting jacket or other special gear – just a Carhartt jacket, his jeans and his shoes. Luckily, the bare-essential approach seemed to be enough for him.
“I showed up to Talladega with iron sights, not knowing you could use scopes – and I won,” he said with a laugh.
The All Guard team noticed his talents in Talladega, quickly recruited him, and a new, valuable connection was made.
“I just wish I would’ve gotten with the team earlier,” Wood said. “I enjoy being with them. It’s probably the best group of soldiers I’ve ever been with.”
He looks forward to the National Matches each year and plans to return next year on the heels of his retirement from the National Guard. He hopes to bring his family along for the trip, eager to show them everything he loves about the century-old event – down to those who make it so special.
“It’s the people, really,” he said. “It’s a different type of mentality. Everyone’s competing against each other, but at the same time, everyone will help you if you need it. There are no hard feelings.”
“No one is really like that at other competitions I’ve been to,” he went on. “I enjoy it here. I mean, it’s the Nationals.”
Though Brian Williams didn’t earn repeat wins in the Aggregates this year, he did find a commanding victory of his own in the National Carbine Match, with a score of 380-5X – more than 10 points over the second place competitor and just two points shy of the current national record.
Other winners in the National Games events were Brian Appel, 34, of Holyoke, MA, who won both the Springfield and Springfield M1A matches by a slim margin, as well as Michael Heaberlin, 38, of North Lawrence, OH, who claimed the John C. Garand competition. Kerri Lewis, 47, of Middletown, RI, also earned multiple high woman honors for her performances in the Garand and Vintage Military events, while Cole Aussieker, 17, of Wenona, IL, was high junior of both the Garand and Springfield matches.
Leading the M16 Match that accompanies the Small Arms Firing School was Paige Sauer, 21, of Morrisville, NC, with a score of 392-13X. Sauer led the match by just one point over second place competitor and high junior of the event, Casey Hollenbeck, 17, of Marathon, WI.
Hard Leg VI (Terrence McCoy and Joseph McDonald) cleared the top spot over the field of 138 teams in the Manual class Vintage Sniper team event, with Double D (Douglas Armstrong and Glendale Rutherford) overtaking the Semi-Auto class.
Find a complete list of results of the National Rifle Games events at https://ct.thecmp.org/23NMRifleResults. Photos of the matches may be viewed and downloaded for free at https://cmp1.zenfolio.com/f148616975.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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