This year marked the first year that we have been able to award prestigious trophies to the winners of the FTR events at the F-Class National Championships. Every year the subject of trophies would come up and then recede after the award ceremony was complete. No more. With the generosity of several marvelous sponsors we now have four impressive trophies to award our winners.
At Camp Perry, for the Highpower Rifle Award Ceremony, the NRA has the trophies for each event, set out on a stand and then the winners are called up, one by one, to stand behind them. The first time I was called up onto the stage, I was so nervous, my knees were shaking. It seems funny looking back on it now, but it was such an honor to be on that stage for the first time, surrounded by my shooting heroes.
Since then, I have been fortunate to attend formal award ceremonies in both Canada and Great Britain, even receiving some awards in Canada. What stood out for me was the memories that each trophy would invoke. Before the ceremonies people would cluster around the trophy tables and talk about when they won this or that trophy or how close they were to winning this year, building the determination to win it next year.
Our Camp Perry Highpower ceremony is probably the most grandiose, held at the base auditorium with spot lights on each trophy on the stage. Canada’s TR Prize Giving is almost the opposite. It is held in a big tent with bad lighting and the trophies set out on folding tables. The thing is, the trophies are all shapes and sizes, two or three deep, for three or more tables. The minute you walk into either venue, the trophies grab your attention and surroundings are almost immaterial. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I secretly like Canada’s presentation a little bit more.
Those experiences shaped what I wanted our award ceremony to be like. So I began spreading the vision of what the trophies should be to our team sponsors and sending pictures and links to antique Silver cups and bowls that would make an appropriate symbol of victory and success. It was not a hard sell. Sean Murphy at Nightforce Optics and Eric Stecker at Berger Bullets, quickly agreed to help.
Nightforce Optics sponsored the trophy to be awarded to the individual National Champion. Pictures do not do this trophy justice. The cap comes off and inside is gilded gold. There is a presence to this trophy. It is not the biggest, but it is weighty and it radiates class. So far, it is also the oldest, crafted in 1899. This year’s National Champion is Richard Dixon.
Berger Bullets sponsored the Team National Championship Trophy. At this year’s SHOT Show I met with Eric Stecker to talk about trophies. His direction regarding the trophy was to get the item that it ‘had to be’ to properly represent the award. The Berger Bullets Trophy is nearly six pounds of silver, crafted in 1914. As a member of eight time National Championship Team Sinclair, I can’t imagine a better symbol to represent this match!
Applied Ballistics sponsored the Michigan Cup which is awarded to the winner of the first day at the National Championships. Bryan Litz, chose the name to represent the prominence that Michigan shooters have taken in FTR events. This year’s winner, Richard Dixon, appropriately is from Michigan.
Pierce Engineering Sponsored the trophy for the winner of the second day at the National Championships. The Pierce Engineering Trophy is unique in shape with three handles and it has a hammered finish unlike the other trophies. It is also the second oldest, crafted in 1905. When I showed John Pierce this trophy he immediately said “yes, that’s the one I want!” Mike Plunkett is this year’s winner.
I have stories about how each of the sponsors above has helped out the shooting sports in many different ways and places. This is just another example of them taking a long term view of their place in the shooting world and it speaks very highly of each of them. Thank you.
Special thanks also goes out to US Team member Al Barnhart who organized the manufacture of the bases for each trophy and applied the name plates for all the past winners.
We have sponsors for both a Senior and Junior trophy, but have not found appropriate items for them yet. We are also looking for a sponsor and trophy item for the third day champion.