Written by Michael Kendra
Every year, late in the month of May, men and women who call themselves Skirmishers meet in a green grass field in the Shenandoah Valley, and celebrate their American Civil War heritage by competing in a historical marksmanship event. Members and their families and guests from every corner of the country were in attendance, from Maine to Florida, New York, Texas, Michigan, and points farther west, and an excellent experience was shared by all.
Featuring many common firearm types from the period, the North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) National Championship is held twice a year, in the Spring and Fall. The events scheduled include individual marksmanship matches for best possible score, team small arms competition for best possible time to break a set of targets, and team artillery competition for best score.
This was the 121st Bi-Annual Event held on May 19th through the 23rd, and was attended by more than a thousand shooting members. Fort Shenandoah, the home range of the N-SSA and venue for all National Skirmishing Events is located a few miles outside Winchester, Virginia. The weather for this event was slightly marred by rain showers on Saturday and Sunday, but that did little to dampen the spirits of those who won medals in these events.
The top event at a National Skirmish has always been the Musket team match. In this match, up to 8 musket wielding members will shoot at breakable targets placed at 50 and 100 yards. Run as a five event match, the team who breaks all their assigned targets the fastest wins the match.
Two-hundred and ten teams participated in the Musket Team match this spring, with the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Co. A, the favorite to win, taking the Gold Medal and bragging rights until the Fall National.
Other notable teams also scored well at the National. The 8th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry took Gold in the Carbine Team match. The 66th North Carolina Regiment, Company C, Co. A placed 1st in the Revolver Team standings.
Also, another favorite, the 3rd U.S. Artillery captained by Charlie Smithgall won the Rifled Cannon match with a perfect score of 50-5V, and the 3rd U.S. as a team also managed a complete sweep in the same category by also taking 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place medals with their other three gun crews. The smoothbore cannon match was won by the Dixie Artillery.
Overall, the spirit of competition was high yet friendly, and this meeting of North and South was one of the best in years. The next National Skirmish is scheduled for September 29th through October 3rd, 2010.
Michael Kendra is a member of 1st New Jersey Light Artillery, a member team in the North-South Skirmish Association and has a weekly blog detailing the events and activities of American Civil War Skirmishers, visit his blog at SkirmishNotes.com