Tucked into the rolling hills of northern West Virginia—about two and a half hours from Washington, D.C., down a two-lane gravel road that winds through cow pastures and corn fields—the Peacemaker National Training Center is a jewel of the shooting sports community. And every fall it plays host to the NRA World Shooting Championship.
Competitors shoot 12 different stages encompassing 12 different aspects of the shooting sports, testing their abilities with rifles, shotguns and handguns. I wasn’t able to shoot this year’s match, but I did make it to Glengary, W.Va., for the last day of the competition. I was so impressed by what I saw that I immediately made plans to compete next year.
Now, let’s get one thing straight: I know I’m not the world’s greatest shooter. But that’s not why I want to take part. I want the experience—spending a few days under the warm September sun with friends old and new; challenging myself in some of my favorite shooting sports as well as disciplines I haven’t had much experience with; cheering on other competitors; talking guns and gear with manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and accessories; and enjoying the casual camaraderie of the shooting sports community.
In addition to all that, there’s an extra bonus to shooting at the NRA World Shooting Championships. There were several stages at this year’s competition that featured products that haven’t yet been released to the public. This year’s competitors were able to try out a few things, including at least one rifle, that most of us won’t get to see until the 2018 SHOT Show. In fact, several of the manufacturers I spoke to mentioned the importance of the feedback they were getting from the competitors, as well as seeing how their products performed under real-world conditions.
Competitors shoot 12 different stages encompassing 12 different aspects of the shooting sports, testing their abilities with rifles, shotguns and handguns.Virtually all the athletes I spoke to this past weekend were encouraged and enthused about the number of people competing in the amateur division, which this year comprised about 75 percent of the total number of entrants. As I checked the leader board on the morning of the final day of competition, I was surprised at the number of amateur athletes who had posted scores equal to or better than the pros in several different stages. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of these amateurs end up competing with the pros in the next couple of years. I doubt I’ll be one of them, but even as someone who doesn’t do a lot of competitive shooting, I know I’ll be welcome at the NRA World Shooting Championship all the same.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say the NRA World Shooting Championship is a great place to introduce yourself to the world of the shooting sports. Where else can you try so many different disciplines all in one place? It’s a great way to learn about the various shooting sports, get some hands-on experience with them and figure out what your favorite might be. Plus, you’d be surrounded by some of the world’s greatest shooters, most of whom are happy to offer tips or advice on how to improve your shooting skills.
This is an opportunity that only comes along once a year, and I’m not going to miss out next fall. If you’d like to join me, keep your eyes on the World Shooting Championship website in the coming months for information on registration for next year’s event.
We’ll see you at Peacemaker National Training Center in 2018!
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.