Water: Too much is a bad thing. Not enough is even worse. The Camp Perry support staff does an excellent job of keeping full water cans in the pits and on the ready lines, but you can never get your fill drinking out of those little cone-shaped, paper cups. When the human body starts dehydrating, all sorts of things start happening to you and most of them are bad. Canteens and water bottles are great, but a far better solution is a hydration pack by Gerber, BlackHawk, or the grand-daddy of them all, CamelBak®. With a 70 to 100 ounce capacity, staying hydrated is much simpler. There have been occasions when I have gone through the contents of my hydration pack by the time I got to the 600 yard-line and was glad to see those orange water cans, though. Remember, if you’re not going to the porta-potty, you’re not drinking enough, so don’t be bashful: Drink all you can, whenever you can.
My home-built rig with my gear. In actual use I’d add a couple of extra bungee cords and a tarp just in case.
One of the most positive advances of the last three or four years is the combination of hydration systems with usable back packs. Usable meaning that they are big enough to carry items of necessary gear while featuring load bearing shoulder straps and waist belts to distribute the weight of that gear evenly over your torso. Now you can carry lunch, rain gear, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and plenty of water all in one easy-to-carry container.
On the same note, heatstroke has been a too-common occurrence over the last four or five years. It doesn’t do your scores any good and shutting the range down for the ambulance inconveniences the rest of us, so it’s best to do everything in your power to avoid it. Wear cool clothing or some sort of wicking material as produced by the makers of Under Armor. Big, floppy hats with a brim all the way around, universally known as “bush hats,” or “boonie hats,” are another good idea to keep cool and prevent sunburn. Just because Camp Perry is in the northern part of the United States doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get hot. On the contrary, temperatures in the low 90’s, coupled with the humidity contributed by Lake Erie make for some pretty uncomfortable heat indexes. Think Houston in June and you’re pretty close.
Be prepared to do a lot of walking at Camp Perry. If you’re early, parking can be had near the ranges. If not, it could be a couple of hundred yards to the edge of the range. There is a motorized “shooter shuttle,” that ferries shooters back and forth, but its capacity is limited and there a lot of shooters going back and forth, like 900 to 1,200, depending on which week you’re there. Bad footwear can cripple you after a couple of days of walking, or if it’s raining all week, wet shoes can give you immersion foot, so it’s prudent to have a spare set of shoes or overshoes.
This is what everyone wants but just can’t justify on the family budget: the Camp Perry cart ala Creedmoor Sports.
Making Life Easier…Or at Least Less Painful
While we’re on the subject of walking, it’s a good time to consider how your gear is going to end up at the firing line in the morning and in your vehicle or hut in the afternoon. That’s right: you are the primary means of transportation. How you do it is up to you, depending on how you view yourself on the evolutionary scale. Are you a simple pack animal, a highly-evolved toolmaker of the genus Hominidae, or somewhere in between?
Try this exercise: Take everything you need for a rifle match out of the closet and pile it in the middle of the living room floor. At the least, you probably have a rifle, its case, a stool, spotting scope, mat, coat, glove, at least 50 rounds of ammunition, data book, magazines and a few small miscellaneous items, say ten to fifteen that stay in your stool all the time in case you need them. Now, pick everything up and move it to the garage in one trip. Remember to bend your knees, and you might want to make sure no one else is in the house unless you plan on being the night’s entertainment. A cell phone with 911 pre-dialed might be a good idea, too.
Now that you’ve tried that, you can see why pistol shooting is so popular: you only have to carry around one box that contains three pistols, ammo, spotting scope, and lunch.
In all seriousness though, moving fifty-plus pounds of gear back and forth for a week puts a strain on bodies that are more accustomed to sitting behind a desk, let alone older bodies that have picked up a few tears, pins, and permanent aches learning the wrong way to do things. Why not make things a little easier?
Over the years, my approach to transporting gear has evolved. In the beginning, when the world seemed a lot flatter and I had most of my hair, I managed with the addition of a single strap on my shooting stool. While wearing my shooting coat, I would put the shooting stool strap and the rifle case strap over my right shoulder, impale my rolled-up mat on the spotting scope stand and then balance it on my right shoulder as well. With my right hand raised to control the scope stand, the shooting stool and rifle case straps couldn’t slide off my shoulder and I could get the whole mess to the next firing line. This was a fast and more important, cheap solution in those poorer days when I didn’t mind walking with a permanent list to port.