NWT News: Current News
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Keith Davis, NWT Public Information Officer.
Two weeks ago, we were shocked to learn that our dear friend, Ben Betterley, had
passed away at the too young age of 39. In looking back at his young life, a
few memories stand-out.
I remember when Ben was finally old enough to join the
N-SSA and he took the organization by storm. Immediately, his presence was felt
on the firing line as he was already a very good shooter. It was fun watching
him shoot individuals for he would stop shooting as soon as a shot was not in
the black. He would then buy another target and did this time after time until
he was satisfied with his score. I also remember his father, Perry, getting
upset when Ben would stop shooting a target after a shot went into the white.
When Ben started shooting, individuals (suddenly) were getting expensive for
Perry. I wish I had a commission on every keg of powder Perry had to buy to
supply Ben's shooting habit.
Shooting next to Ben was quite the adventure and I did it for 13 years. He was
one of the fastest shooters in the N-SSA and out of the corner of my eye, I
would see his arm, elbow and ramrod in warp-speed. Ben was so fast, he could be
distracting to some but not me. I enjoyed it immensely! However, it was a little
disheartening when I would miss my first shot on the pigeon board and as I pulled
up for my second shot, Ben would already have broken three birds. I also remember
the time at Kalamazoo and we were shooting 100 yard paper plates in rapid fire. I
n two-minutes, Ben fired 13 rounds with his Sharps and had 12 hits in a nice group.
The next highest person only had 8 hits. Some of his individual accolades include
the Felker Award for best musket aggregate and he is the current N-SSA record holder
with a 50 yard musket score of 99-1X.
I also (often) think of the 111th's first musket championship at Fort
Shenandoah. Ben shot to my left and he always knew where we stood in the
standings after every event. There was a contingent of shooters (like me) who
did not want to know where we stood figuring it would just add a little more
pressure. Not Ben, he was constantly over at the stat board and knew the team
separation down to the second. On the 100 yard tile event, I yelled out "time"
and Ben immediately yelled out "What about the Blue's?" Ben knew that the
Washington Blue Rifles were our nearest competitor going into the last event.
We both strained our eyes two positions down from us and then saw them break
their last target. It was the longest few seconds of our shooting life. When
we saw their last target break after ours, Ben yelled out "we did it" and we
went crazy knowing that we had won our first national championship. Ben won a
total of 5 Championships; two musket and three carbine. Two musket and two
carbine championships were with the 111th. His first
carbine championship came as a member of the 1st South Carolina.
But there was so much more to Ben than just shooting. Not only was he a
champion on the range, he was also champion and hero off of it as well. He was
in the Marines and served two tours overseas fighting for people he never knew
and willing to lay down his own life so that others may be free. All of our men
and women in uniform are willing to make this sacrifice and it says a lot about
their (and Ben's) character. Ben's unit was the first to enter
the town of Fallujah where some of the heaviest and nastiest fighting took
place in Iraq. I read a report about Ben's unit and how they performed and I can only
think of the word heroic; Ben and members of his unit were true heroes.
On another note, we often wondered if Ben would ever settle down and his
bachelor days came to a screeching halt when he met the love of his life.
Ben and Angel were perfect for each other; they loved to shoot, camp and party.
There were some very famous parties late into the night with them and our
1st Pennsylvania Bucktail friends sitting around the camp fire at Fort Shenandoah.
Goodbye my friend and thanks for all of the memories. Heaven has got themselves
one helluva person and shooter. May you rest in peace.
Thanks to the 4th Michigan for hosting a wonderful event. This was the Friendship Skirmish and was attended by four teams from the ACWSA; thanks for coming and hope you enjoyed your weekend.
Musket winners were the 111th Ohio in Class A-1, 1st Engineers & Mechanics in Class A-2, 5th Battery in Class A-3 and 1st Michigan in Class B. There were a total of 6 B teams that competed. In carbine top accolades go to the 1st Michigan B team in Class A-1, 1st Engineers & Mechanics in Class A-2 and the 111th OVI in Class B. In Smoothbore, there were a total of fourteen teams that competed and top honors goes to the 1st Michigan A team. Unfortunately, there was a sadness that draped over the weekend as this was the first shoot since the passing of Ben Betterley. More about Ben in another post.
Northwest Territory helps Save the Flags
Every year the unit commanders of the North-South Skirmish Association's Northwest Territory select a historically-based project and donate $1,000 to that cause. Past donations have gone to organizations like the Gettysburg Foundation, Civil War Trust and last year to Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne where many Michigan regiments were mustered into service. For 2017, the NWT selected the State of Michigan's Save the Flags project.
Based on unit seniority, NWT commanders selected a flag of the 5th Michigan Infantry for adoption. Company F of that regiment is known by their militia company name: the Huron Rangers (N-SSA #004). Those adopting flags are honored in a special ceremony. The State Director of the Save the Flags project, Matt Van Acker, attended the regional skirmish at Laingsburg on July 30. The Huron Rangers were given a photograph of the adopted battle flag and a legislative tribute signed by both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor was presented to NWT Regional Commander Chuck Kindle. The NWT will also be added to a "Roll of Honor" plaque displayed in the flag exhibit area at the Michigan Historical Center at the capitol complex in Lansing.
Save the Flags is Michigan's project to preserve, research and display 240 battle flags carried by Michigan soldiers in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I. One of the projects great successes has been its "adoption" program. For a donation of $1,000 individuals, families, organizations, schools and communities help with the preservation, research and display of the flags by "adopting" flags in the collection. To date, over 150 flags, mostly from the Civil War, have been adopted, providing the project with much needed funds. Adoptions also help preserve history by commemorating particular regiments and individuals. Adoptions are often made in the name of the original regiment which carried that flag into battle or adopted in the name of a veteran by his descendants.
NWT photo by Brenda Miller
NWT Regional Commander Chuck Kindle (right) displays the Legislative Tribute and Huron Rangers Commander Henry Heatley (center) holds a photo of the adopted battle flag of the 5th Michigan Infantry. Both were presented by State Director of the Save the Flags project, Matt Van Acker (left) during the flag adoption ceremony at the skirmish at Laingsburg, Michigan on
July 30. 2017.
Save the Flags
Rich and Jan Cross and Bruce and Terri Miller recently "adopted" flags of the 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the State of Michigan's collection. Both couples are long-time members of the N-SSA/NWT 1st Michigan. Included in the ceremony was an exclusive viewing of the entire collection at the State Museum and Archives that included several of their team mates.
One of the great successes of Save the Flags, the project to preserve, research and display 240 battle flags carried by Michigan soldiers in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I, has been its "adoption" program. For a donation of $1,000 individuals, families, organizations, schools and communities help with the preservation, research and display of the flags by "adopting" flags in the collection. To date, over 150 flags, mostly from the Civil War, have been adopted, providing the project with much needed funds.
Adoptions also help preserve history by commemorating particular regiments and individuals. Adoptions are often made in the name of the original regiment which carried that flag into battle or adopted in the name of a veteran by his descendants.
Those adopting flags are honored in a special ceremony. They are given a photograph of the flag they have adopted and a legislative tribute signed by the governor and members of the legislature. Their names are also added to a "Roll of Honor" plaque displayed in the flag exhibit area at the Michigan Historical Center.
The 14th Tennessee kicked-off the Northwest teritory season in fine style at the Lansing Gun Club. With storms threatening both Saturday and Sunday, the skirmish went off without a hitch.
There were some fine individual scores as Don Howard led the pack with a 49-2X with his smoothbore. When you see him, ask him what size roundballs he was shooting!
In the team events, 1st Michigan Co. A led all the other smoothbore teams in the dust with a convincing 42 second lead over the 111th OVI in 2nd place with the 7th Tennessee finishing in third and only 0.2 seconds behind. That was close!!
Winning Carbine teams were: 111th OVI in Class A-1; the 1st South carolina in Class A-2; and the 111th OVI in Class B.
Winning Musket teams were: 111th OVI in Class A-1; Battery C in Class A-2; 5th Battery in Class A-3; and 111th OVI in Class B.
The skirmish was well-run and everyone had an enjoyable start to the 2017 season. Next on the agenda is Defiance on 7-9 July. See you there . . . .
135th Spring Nationals
What a great Spring National! We have seen some bad weather at the fort in the past but this one was nearly perfect. There were some cool evenings and a few warm days but there was no "liquid sunshine"! There were also some very notable experiences on the range side of the firing line.
First and foremost, congratulations to Keith Montresor and Rudy Ruzicska. Both of these gentlemen achieved 50 years of skirmishing in the N-SSA. They have put a lot of lead downrange and have seen tremendous change in the organization over the years. Through it all, you will still find them standing on the firing line participating in the sport they love. Congratulations!
The NWT was well represented when it came to shooting achievements at the 135th Nationals. Some of the highlights include:
- Larry Flees won the coveted Warburton Trophy for 1st Place Carbine Aggregate. In looking at the names of the previous winners, Larry is (deservedly) in esteemed company.
- Kathy Kindle took 1st Place in 50 yard Carbine. What makes this even more impressive is she had the top score of all four classifications. Can you say movin' on up?
- The 14th Tennessee achieved a team-first by medaling in both Carbine and Musket. They finished in 4th Place A-3 Carbine and 5th Place A-3 Musket. Nice shooting!
- The 111th Revolver team won a 6th Place medal in Class 1. The team was comprised of Rob Trost, Donnie Howard, Dave VanAmburg and Mark Miller on loan from the 1st Michigan. This was Mark's first-ever National medal and he was beaming from ear-to-ear the entire weekend. I hear Dave has been enrolled (by his teammates) in a target recognition class.
- Battery C team won a 2nd Place medal in Smoothbore and missed 1st Place by a mere 0.6 seconds. Congratulations on the 2nd Place, Ouch on the 0.6 seconds!
- The 111th Musket A-team brought home a 9th Place medal.
The NWT Skirmish invitations are coming in so check the Schedules & Maps section of the web site for details.
Next on the agenda will be the Laingsburg-1 skirmish. See you there!
Upcoming 2017 Season
The Laingsburg-1 Skirmish Invitation has been posted to the NWT Web page as well as a map to the Maybee, Mich Skirmish. Both can be found under the Schedules section.
Don't forget about the NWT Commander's Meeting on March 12th at the Washtenaw Sportsmans Club, beginning at 10 AM.
Upcoming 2017 Season
I hope all is well and you are getting through the 2016-2017 winter season without too much cold and snow. This is the time of year of lead pots and casting bullets.
After a year of computer crashes and lost files, I am back on the web and just posted the 2017 NWT skirmish schedule.
New this year will be a skirmish at the Maybee Sportsman's Club range at 11490 Hoffman Rd, Maybee Michigan replacing the shoot at Carleton. Once I can come up with a map, I will post it to the web site.
For the NWT team commander's, the NWT Spring meeting will be held March 12th at the Washtenaw Sportsman's Club. If you have any agenda items, make sure you get them to Dave Mandy, Hugh McLeod or Chuck Kindle.