World Shooting Championship Course Takes a Hit From the Weather

When the shooters take to their various stages to begin the NRA’s World Shooting Championship today at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, they will face a course of fire designed to help identify the best all-round shooters in the sport. Rifles, pistols, and shotguns, with variations of each, wait to see who can combine the various stages of fire to take home the top prize and bragging rights as the world’s best all-around shooter for 2024.

What they won’t see is all the work that went into getting the competition ready for them. Not just setting the courses, but re-setting them after severe weather moved through much of the country on Monday and Tuesday. Things were pretty much ready to go until the weather decided to take one of those notable spring u-turns and go from mild to wild.

Atterbury was no exception.

Monday evening I was in the post housing and it literally vibrated with the force of the wind and lashing rains that turned the entire facility into a soggy mess Tuesday morning. So much so that the decision was made to cancel all shooting (the staff, volunteer and VIP match was supposed to continue on Tuesday) for the day to have everyone hunker down and get ready for the “real weather” headed their way on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

The weather didn’t disappoint. It delivered a stark reminder of how shooting competitions are impacted by weather in ways most people can’t imagine.

Thankfully, Attebury didn’t get the full force of the tornado activity that spread devastation from Alabama up the east coast. But winds in excess of 60 MPH were still more than capable of blowing down barricades and sending portable toilets tumbling.

courtesy Tom Yost

Signage never had a chance.

Fortunately, most signage wasn’t scheduled to be placed until Wednesday. Otherwise, points north and east of Attebury would have found themselves unexpected recipients of sponsor banners and (unclear) directional signage.

courtesy Tom Yost
courtesy Tom Yost
Unfortunately, several courses of fire that had been precisely designed, correctly laid out and “de-bugged” by the staff match on Monday were “tail over teakettle” as wind and rain “modified” what had seemed pretty solidly anchored only hours before.

Fortunately, “temporary” means just that. Temporary fences and other delineating barricades were replaced on Wednesday.

And on a military base, permanent is exactly that: permanent.

The permanent shelters, rifle pits and long distance targets were as unmoved by the weather as they were by amateur shooters struggling to hit 600-plus yard targets in “full-factor” crosswinds.

The World Shoot is designed to identify the best all-round shooter. That means long distance (top) shooting, shotguns, rifles of all sorts (center) and even western-style revolvers (below). The lever action rifle shooter is VIP guest Janet Holcomb, First Lady of Indiana. We’ll have an interview with her in Friday’s QA Outdoors. (Jim Shepherd for SNW)

The World Shoot is the first match I’ve attended on a military base. It brings a different atmosphere.

The mil-spec layouts, universality of the buildings and the military displays at the entrance aside, the most unique thing was the fact that for the first time ever, I was attending a shooting match where personal firearms were prohibited.

As with all military bases, all firearms are under strict controls at all times. Personal firearms, we were warned well in advance, weren’t allowed.

When I checked in to Atterbury the first time, a base security officer asked, “Do you have any firearms?” He was not amused with my answer of, “Sure, lots of them….just none with me.”  But it was the truth.

There were other interesting aspects. I hadn’t eaten in an Army mess hall in about four decades. Things hadn’t changed much, although the food does seem to have improved over what I remembered from decades ago. And base housing, at least at Atterbury, is more than slightly better than the “racks” at Fort Knox where I experienced my first taste of military life. Comfortable beds, private baths and other amenities were not provided in those days.

With an abundance of ranges of any imaginable distance, plenty of support facilities, and the typically flat Indiana landscape, Atterbury is actually an ideal place for a shooting competition, despite the military regulations. Should the weather cooperate the rest of the week, it will make for a great competition.

Hopefully the shooters will recognize and appreciate the work that’s gone into making the whole thing possible.

As is the case with every competitive event, it couldn’t happen without the work of a lot of willing volunteers. Volunteers whose match was radically impacted by the weather. But they soldiered on to get it repaired and ready for the competition starting today.

We’ll keep you posted.

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