NWT News: Past News (2004)
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NWT News

Civil War Heritage Preservation.
Bruce W. Miller, N-SSA Public Information Officer.
December 08, 2004

The North-South Skirmish Association held its 110th National Competition October 1-3, 2004 at Fort Shenandoah near Winchester, Virginia.

The remarkable 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry won the musket match for the fifth consecutive national, a feat not accomplished in over ten years. Their accomplishment certainly ranks the Ohioans among the best teams in the 55 year history of N-SSA competition. A total of 242 eight-member teams participated in this N-SSA signature competition. The hot shooting 110th also won the breech loading rifle competition. The Washington Blue Rifles bested 176 other companies and won the carbine match. The York Rangers won the revolver competition and the 17th Virginia Infantry won the smoothbore musket match. In the artillery competitions, 38 guns participated in the cannon matches and the batteries from the 3rd U. S. Infantry won all three classes: Smithgall's battery for smoothbore class; Wells' battery for the rifled class; and Kurdt's battery for the howitzer class. Completing the artillery competition sweep was Wells' battery besting 33 other competitors to win the mortar match.

The N-SSA also held its election of national officers to serve a two-year term. Charles Smithgall of Lancaster, PA elected as National Commander and Linwood McMahon of Chesapeake, VA was elected as Deputy Commander. Norman Plank of Carlisle, PA was elected Adjutant, James Baird of Centreville, VA was reelected Paymaster and Phil Spaugy of Vandalia, OH was reelected Inspector General.

The 111th National Competition is scheduled for May 20-22, 2005 at Fort Shenandoah. For more information, call Bruce Miller at (248) 258-9007 or visit the N-SSA web site at: www.n-ssa.org.

Falling Water (Fall Nationals at Fort Shenendoah, VA)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
September 29 - October 3, 2004

With the talk of flooding as many people were preparing to depart for Fort Shenendoah, VA, it seems as if many people decided to not participate in the Fall Nationals. The flood waters had gotten deep in the low lying areas, but they receded as fast as they rose. The camping areas seemed sparsely populated, and the crowds were lighter than in years previous. But still the games played on. And speaking of games, there was some fun with a certain pumpkin that wandered throughout the camp, doing the jack-o-lantern tango on a trailer.

The membership meeting held on Friday evening contained the election of National officers and also distribution of the updated rulebooks. There were some comments from the skirmish director that were very indicative as to the sort of organization that we belong to. He told of people working to assist each other in dealing with the floodwaters, by bunking guests and sharing food with those who couldn't access their campsites. It spoke well of how we treat each other. One other thing that was appreciated at was the fact that the meeting was short. With the amount of activities scheduled during Nationals, it can be difficult to do everything you may want to.

Later Friday night I attended the Blue / Grey Ball with several of my teammates. The effort to prepare and transport the ballgowns was appreciated as they formed an attractive panorama of colors and patterns. The band put forth a variety of music, interspersing fast and slow songs to allow us to catch our breath. I hope that this activity is continued at Future Nationals (hint! hint!). And I would like to offer my sincerest of congratulations to Scott and Dawn Anderson of the 7th Michigan since they got married in the museum and then attended the ball as a brief reception. And another congrats to Kevin and Donna Coney of the 7th Tennessee, as they reached their 6th anniversary while in Virginia.

At the barn dance on Saturday night the mood was festive. Some friends even got me out on the dance floor (with both left feet). I had to resort to my dancing emergency plan: improvise with enthusiasm. It was a lot of fun, but also provided some recollections of those who were not there to share in the night with us. And the dance closed with the traditional "God Bless the U.S.A." (or U.S.M.C. depending on who's singing). Ben, we miss you, we have faith in you, and we'll wait for you to come home, as long as it takes.

End Game (Marion, MI skirmish)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
September 8-10, 2004

The last regional shoot of the year was a good one. Friday night several of the members of the Marion Rod and Gun Club spent the evening tending a fire in their new roasting pit. I spent some time with them getting a chance to relax. I was surprised with how quiet the range was that night. I also saw the preparations that they had made for the pig roast on Saturday night. With two pigs for the roast and piles of corn on the cob, there was a large amount of food, which was pretty well demolished by the hungry hordes after the events on Saturday. I heard many compliments on the roast.

The Bob Scheele Memorial Award A new regional annual award was introduced, the "Bob Scheele Memorial Award," by the members of Battery "C", First Michigan Light Artillery. The award is intended to honor those who have offered years of service and fellowship to their team(s) and to the organization as a whole (think of it as a skirmisher spirit award). The first winner was Sam Dobbins (6th Wisconsin Volunteers), who was a friend of Bob, and it was presented by Anne Scheele (Bob's wife). Sam has been shooting since 1965 and has been a generally helpful and all-around good guy.

Doc Mandy's award An Award of Merit was presented to Dr. David Mandy of the 15th Virginia Cavalry as a thank you for providing over 25 years of medical service to our organization. He has always offered his assistance in a very unselfish manner, with significant investment of his time and energy to help those in need. I believe that I speak for all of us when I offer my sincerest thanks for his continued dedication.

During the individual competitions on Saturday, a prize table was arranged with a large assortment of items to be won. I know that Allissa Weber of Battery "C" put a lot of effort into getting donations for it, and the drawing of winning tickets during the carbine matches kept the shooting events and prizes moving. Following the carbine matches were the mortar and cannon events, with the largest showing of artillery pieces that I have seen at a regional shoot in many years (10 mortars and 5 cannons). Sundays events; consisting of musket, smoothbore, and breechloader competitions; rolled along, and were followed by the end of the year awards at closing ceremonies. The shoot had almost all of the events we compete in, making it a full, rich weekend. I know that I had a fun time, and am already looking forward to next season. Photos submitted by Karen Gaskill.

The Games at Richmond (Richmond, MI)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
August 14-15, 2004

When I got to the range on Friday night, I was welcomed by the sounds of people playing horseshoes. The fact that it was getting dark out did not stop the players, who continued until 11 o'clock that night. The fun of this long night spent talking around the campfire was a prelude to the fun of a unique series of individual competitions. The 1st South Carolina came up with an interesting set of competitions such as a poker hand target and lowest score target to make individuals more interesting (which seemed to work). They also had a prize table with a variety of items that could be won by either purchasing raffle tickets or by winning tickets shooting at a series of breakable targets. They have had the prize table before, and the process of claiming prizes by the winners was streamlined.

Richmond Mortar For the mortar competition, Jamie Dyer of the 19th Michigan managed to drop a round on top of their stake, thus shattering the top third of it. Apparently this was in response to John McLeod (7th Tennessee's "B" mortar crew) previously rolling a ball right up next to the same stake. It was a very nice shot, except for being next to the wrong stake.

With all of the events that they had scheduled for Saturday, teamwork by the host staff kept things pretty much on schedule. That was rather appreciated as the 10th annual NWT regional picnic was held that evening. Peggy Edwards-Shaw of the 7th Wisconsin did an excellent job of organizing the picnic and making pins for those that brought dishes to pass.

Sunday ran smoothly, and the smell of freshly-cooked donuts was a nice touch for the morning. And the awards ceremony after the competition was rather relaxed and enjoyable. There were laughs at some of the commentary and jokes being made as the awards were presented to the victors. All in all, it was another fun skirmish, put on by a team that definitely knows what they are doing. Photo submitted by Allissa Weber.

The Lack of Water at Blue Water [Blue Water (Port Huron), Michigan skirmish]
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
July 23-25, 2004

For an interesting and appreciated change of pace, we had excellent weather at the Blue Water skirmish this year. There were no tornadoes, nor storms, or any unpleasantness. Just balmy weekend weather, which was nice. Blue Water Sportsman's Association had their Community Days event on the Saturday of the shoot, which did cause us to be more cramped for space, but the adaptability of the skirmishers helped us to deal with it. As Skirmish Director, I would like to thank everyone for being patient as we shuffled things around to make everything fit and for everyone's help with the clean-up afterwards.

With no inclement weather we were able to run close to the posted schedule. The events on Saturday were packed in, as all of the shooting events were jammed into the weekend (revolver, carbine, breechloader 2, smoothbore, and mortar team events on Saturday and musket and cannon team events on Sunday). Of course this makes for a busy schedule, but with a good staff it was successfully carried off. I heard a lot of compliments and I hope that everyone had fun.

There were a few things that I thought stood out (to me at least). We had a tie on individuals in the Grand Aggregate category between Tim Cooper (the Midwest's Union Guards) and Robert Trost. I will admit that I had to look up how do break such a tie, since we were not absolutely certain. Next time I get a hole punch out to make the scoring easier (just kidding). Another thing was I learned a valuable lesson: don't use tiles made of drywall for cannons. It is a bit rough on the target frames (the shock of impact on the tiles broke two of the frames). But the spectators did appreciate the event, applauding some of the good shots made (and the frames' destruction).

Loomis' Battery

Members of Loomis' Battery uncover their ears as the report dies and smoke clears from their 12 lb Napoleon, at Bluewater 2004. Loomis' Battery members pictured are (left to right:) Colleen Switlik, Don Lutz, Nick Bartlett, Bill Vecchioni, and Matt Switlik. Photo submitted by Alissa Weber.

Defying the Heat (Defiance, Ohio)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
July 10-11, 2004

After what seemed like a long drove past the cornfields of Ohio, I was ready to relax around a campfire with friends. After dinner I got the energy to go wandering to see whom I could find. Jay Fulton of the Midwest's 11th Indiana Zouaves was singing impromptu songs around the campfire on Friday night. They were amusing observations about several of the skirmishers in attendance. Saturday night, the discussion around my campfire wandered over a rather wide range of topics, from the constellations, to favorite colors, to car exhausts (Thanks, Cal!). It was a rather relaxing evening as the temperature finally cooled off. This is one of my favorite things about skirmishing, the time spent with friends.

The skirmish ran well, thanks to the years of experience hosting by the 111th O.V.I., and Keith Davis made certain that the closing events on Sunday did not drag out. Closing ceremonies began five minutes after the final relay, allowing me barely enough time to drop off some gear back at camp and get back to pick up a medal. I did appreciate that the staff kept the shoot rolling along as fast as possible with three relays during musket. By the end of the day it felt good to get out of the wool and get cleaned up. Just for reference, it turns out it doesn't take that many skirmishers to leave a dirt ring around a pool after a day of shooting. And Bob Preston, Jr. of the 5th Battery even got his picture in the local paper, the Crescent News.

The Basics of Safety (Caseville, Michigan)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
June 19th, 2004

Safety Presentation Chris Hubbard, NWT Regional Inspector, gave an excellent presentation on skirmish safety at Caseville. It was intended primarily for new recruits, but was a good refresher for the more experienced shooters as well. In attendance were 12 new recruits, approximately 4 "second year skirmishers" and a dozen or more veterans. I shot with some of those new recruits and I have to give them kudos for paying attention. You could tell that Chris works as a teacher, with his solid presentation skills.

The lecture covered basic rules and procedures for the N-SSA and NWT, as well as covering basic health issues (such as keeping hydrated, especially at the hot weather shoots) and the safe loading and handling of a muzzleloading arm. Wally Gibson, 1st South Carolina, recorded the presentation at the request of the National administration, and copies are available from Chris. Chris intends on making the DVD available for those of you would could stomach the "Chris Hubbard show", along with his "lecture notes" on this critical section of skirmishing.

I hope that we can keep this safety training going on a yearly basis, and perhaps start it on a National level, or spread to other regions. The emphasis on safety in our organization is what has allowed us to experience no serious injuries in over 50 years in existence. With continued attention to safety, lets aim for another 50 years (preferably more) with no serious injuries. Photo submitted by Karen Gaskill.

A New Range Feeling (Caseville, MI)
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
July 8th, 2004

The new Northwest Territory range at Caseville (on Lake Huron) turned out to be a pleasant place for shooting. Friday night there was singing around the campfire (of various and sometimes dubious quality) and a general air of rest and relaxation, no doubt part of the persona of the sleepy beach town! It was a nice change of pace from the regular workweek. It was amusing to watch Matt Schooley (1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry) set up tents in the dark. He had it under control and completed faster than expected, even for a carpenter. Amusing in its own right was watching Ben Betterley (1st South Carolina) watching his tents being assembled and how Marines aren't usually seen building things.

Chris Hubbard, NWT Regional Inspector, gave an excellent presentation on skirmish safety at Caseville. It was intended primarily for new recruits, but was a good refresher for the more experienced shooters as well (Please see the additional report for this event). I shot with some of those new recruits and I have to give them kudos for paying attention. You could tell that Chris works as a teacher, with his solid presentation skills.

The members of the Caseville Rod and Gun Club made efforts to make their range suitable for us. I think that we somewhat overwhelmed them (we tend to do that!) as to our size and enthusiasm. My experience with new ranges (to our sport) is that until we arrive in force, the impact of our size and scope isn't fully realized. Despite this, they worked to accommodate us, such as arranging additional camping at the neighboring chicken farm and building a berm especially for our purposes. This berm was probably one of the most uniform in color (sand) that I have seen, which made the hanging targets such as blocks, tiles, and pots (all colored white) rather hard to see, but equal for everyone. The concrete walls in the ready area were interesting, the remnants of their winter pastime, demolition derby. I had a good shoot, personally, and I definitely enjoyed myself. I would not mind returning to this range for shoots in the future.

The Better Side of Kalamazoo.
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
June 26th, 2004

Oddly, there were no vehicle fires this year for the McLeod family, of the 7th Tennessee Infantry, on the way to Kalamazoo. It was an uneventful trip, thankfully. For those who don't know, last year the truck's engine caught fire. They still made it, with some help, and it was the source of amusement for a while (since there was no serious damage). [Editor's note: This is still a source of entertainment. CRH]

The shoot went well, with the host teams doing their best to make sure everything went smoothly. The shuttle operation was greatly appreciated, considering the challenging layout of the range and camping areas.

Joshua Mandy

The Kalamazoo Rod & Gun Club members, as always, were very considerate by providing water coolers behind the tower, in an effort to help preserve our members' health. Saturday evening was rather quiet in the camping areas for the most part, other than a select few people carrying on till the early morning hours. [Editorial Note: This was tame compared to the past. We're getting old. CRH]

I overheard on Sunday that Josh Mandy, 15th Virginia Cavalry, shown here with his trusty Smoothbore at Richmond last year, was hitting 50% of his shots. Nice shooting, Joshua. Jim Van Devender (a former member of the 7th Tennessee Infantry) stopped by to visit his old comrades-in-arms. Jim moved to Spain two years ago, and thus could not continue to shoot with us (talk about one heck of a commute).

A National to Remember.
Hugh McLeod, NWT Public Information Officer.
June 17th, 2004

Ahh, the chirping of cicadas that dominated the sounds of nature. They were as plentiful as mosquitoes in Michigan, but without all the biting. It wasn't bad weather for the Spring Nationals this year, at least compared to the solid rain we had last spring. On Friday night there was a warning of 70mph winds, but we all toughed it out. I thought that it spoke well of the bonds of our organization that members took the initiative to spread the word of the inclement weather that was about to hit. Thanks to those who helped out.

Down at the range, I always like watching someone's first experience of seeing the firing line. The sight of that many people on the firing line is impressive, and on the line we had some well-appreciated results. Ron Walters, 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, won his first ever National medal while shooting with his son and grandson, on their carbine team. Kevin Coney, 7th Tennessee Infantry, won a smoothbore medal in individual competition. Damon Palyka, of the Midwest Region's 11th Indiana, won the Miller Award for his uniform. The 1st South Carolina won their second National Smoothbore Team Championship, (out of three possible since the inception of the event in the Spring of 2003.) Congratulations to all whom won medals and awards.

Brian Haack, 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, brought his Agar and Williams Guns for a rapid fire demonstration. Two Gatling guns also participated in shooting at packed pigeon boards and hanging tile frames. The crowd ohh'ed and ahh'ed when the Williams went off each time, as the crash of the cannon drowned out the popping of the other guns. The front row of spectators got to see the canister rounds full of .30 caliber shot that the Williams Gun fired, which explained the amounts of targeting shattering with each loud bang. (See William's Gun Crewman Chris Hubbard's forthcoming article in the Skirmish Line for a full account.)

All in all, I would have to say that it was another fun National Skirmish. As a chance to get together and visit with old friends and new, it was definitely worth the trip (and dealing with the weather). Karen Gaskill, Commander of the 14th Tennessee Infantry, can be glad that there were no new pictures of her in the mud this year. Maybe next?

NWT Individual Championship to Include Smoothbore and Breechloader
Larry J. Flees, Interim NWT Championship Chairman.
May 12th, 2004

After many faithful years as chairman of the NWT Individual Championship competition, John Anderson of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry has opted to fulfill his ever growing "honey-do" list in the 2004 season. John has done a wonderful job with the Regional Championship in the past, and looks forward to returning to the position in the coming years. Larry Flees, of the 1st South Carolina has agreed to take over the duties of the chair for the 2004 season.

In addition to agreeing to take over the Championship, Larry has announced that the NWT Championship will include an open-classed Smoothbore Musket and Breechloading Rifle/Carbine II (Henry) competition. The goal is to try to increase the number of people who participate in the NWT Championships. This will be done on a one-year trial basis.

There will be three places paid for each of these new categories. All competitors in these categories will compete in one open class against all other competitors.

If you have already registered for the NWT Championships and want to include these new disciplines, or haven't registered yet but would like to, you can contact Larry J. Flees, Interim NWT Championship Chairman by e-mail, or register at the first Regional Skirmish of the season (Kalamazoo) during Individuals.

Forney's Battalion, USMC

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