By Joel “Doc” Sexton

Three retirees and a recent arrival to Charleston from the Navy decided to renew an old tradition by representing South Carolina at the National Pistol championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. They had a great time shooting and renewing old friendships. They also finished sixth among the Master State Association Teams.

 In a conversation between Gino Celia ( recently retired from the Navy and working in Charleston) and Joel “Doc” Sexton ( retired Forensic Pathologist and Emeritus Citadel Pistol Coach) about how much fun it had been to shoot on a firing line with three hundred other shooters and three relays the spark occurred that lit a fire in the minds and hearts of  four South Carolina Bullseye shooters. Dave Salyer ( retired engineer and current gunsmith) and Randy Earnest (retire from Michelin Research and current gunsmith) readily agreed with the suggestion of Gino and “Doc” to field a State Team at Camp Perry at the National Pistol Championships for the first time in at least 30 + years according to “Doc”.

“Doc” said he could remember SC fielding a very competitive State Team back in the 70’s when he and Bill Hicks from Charleston, Dave Scott from Columbia and C.B. Riley from Florence represented S.C. at a number of National and Regional Championship. Dave Scott and C.B. were in the low 2600’s and Bill and I were shooting in the 2590’s. We had team scores where we all shot in the 290’s.

Dave, Randy and “Doc” all feel they can again relive those times after shooting at Camp Perry this year. Gino had some good scores this year. All had a great time and are looking forward to representing S.C. again next year with the addition of some more shooters so we can field two or three teams of different classifications.

Needless to say we all had some great food at the local restaurants. We did not enjoy slogging through the deep mud on the firing line and dealing with the wind. At least it was not as hot as last year and did not rain while we were shooting. We definitely “made some memories”! Everyone was exposed to the same conditions and our experience group made the most of the conditions.

We told tall tales to the other teams near us as our State Flag fluttered in the wind along with the GOSC banner. We shot next to the strong US Army Reserve Team which included Olympian Keith Sanderson and last year‘s top reserve shooter, Rob Mango and the excellent Pennsylvania State Team. Maryland was nearby as was North Carolina. Each of us knew shooters on each of these teams and enjoyed discussing old times and the current conditions.

Brian Zins won his 12th National championship in spite of failing to fire a round slow fire while waiting for a lull in  the wind. His score in that National Match Course was a 289 X 300 with a miss. He is truly the greatest Bullseye shooter. The next closest multiple National Match Winner won it six times. 

We all spent time shopping on Commercial Row. They were well stocked with powder, primers, bullets, guns, and many “adult” toys. I even found a .223 Match AR15 for less than a thousand .    

There were a total of 641 competitors and 77 teams.  We went to Perry to renew a tradition and to enjoy ourselves. We were still pleased that we finished sixth among the State Association Master Teams. I was excited that I finished 8th among the 78 Grand Seniors ( 70 years old). The winner, Steve Reiter shot a 2519 X 2700.  

All four of us urge you to bring some other club members to the monthly matches so we can have team matches throughout the year between local clubs. We can use the national match course with each pistol as the team score so the monthly match will end at the same time. We may want to have separate fired team matches for the State Championship and usually they are separate for the regional matches.

Let’s all plan to shoot more monthly matches, train more and strongly consider a trip to Camp Perry next July. You owe it to yourself to at least go once especially while your classification is low. There were 180 Civilian Experts. I was pleased that I finished 80th with a 2423 X 2700 , especially considering the wind and mud.

Below is the 2013 SC State Pistol Team at Camp Perry during the team matches in the mud. From left to right they are Randy Earnest, Gino Celia, Joel Sexton and Dave Salyer.


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