Dreams can come true! Here’s a story of a lifetime of fascination that culminated in the pinnacle of competition. READ IT ALL
SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Horsman
My first memories that took me down the path of firearms and shooting came in the 1970s. I remember looking at old gun magazines, specifically Guns and Ammo, all of the time. Most of those magazines were dated from the late 60s through the mid to late 70s. #CollectorItems
That was when my love affair with firearms and shooting started. I was a very young boy, not quite 10 years old. The Guns and Ammo magazines, for me, were just like the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog. I remember looking through both and daydreaming about all of the stuff that I wanted for Christmas. I would study the pictures and read the articles, as I was dreaming about the guns that I wished I had and the hunting adventures I wanted to be a part of.
Hard to believe that that was nearly 45 years ago. #LifeMovesFast
During my younger years, there were several firearms that I was attracted to; obviously for how they looked, but mostly because of their capabilities and the history that surrounded them. One of my favorite guns was the M14 rifle, and my admiration of this rifle has never waned, even after 4 decades. Again, the sweet appearance is was what first drew me to it. It had classic lines that resembled the M1 Garand, but it had the more modern box fed magazine. I just wasn’t a fan yet of the M16 / AR16 rifle of that time, as it looked, dare I say, “cheap” to me.
As I got older, the desire to own an M14 rifle only grew stronger. What I didn’t know at the time though was that many of the M14s I was drooling over were (most likely) Springfield Armory M1As. Never in a million rounds, would I have imagined I would one day be working for “the” gun company.
Jump to the late 1990s when I was finally able to buy my first M1A! It was a brand new Springfield Armory “Loaded” M1A Model. I was in M1A heaven! It had everything I wanted, and I loved that rifle. I shot it in my first and only (as of this writing) High Power match, and once at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match.
From the moment I got it, until the day a good friend talked me into selling it to him, it performed perfectly. If you’re like me, you know that it’s always hard to get rid of a gun — I had the original “Loaded” Model in my safe for over 10 years, and was always a proud owner. But in the end, I really wanted the flagship M1A Super Match.
As things often happen though, I bought not the Super Match, but the Springfield Armory Scout Squad model. Probably because every time I had the chance to shoot one of these guns, I started to like it more and more. At the time, it fit my needs for a battle rifle better than the Loaded Model did, and the Super Match was just a little out of reach dollar wise.
I still have that Scout rifle, and have “made it mine” by removing the Scout scope mount, and adding a wooden hand guard in place of the plastic one that comes stock on that model. That rifle is a tack driver and I can hit 10-inch steel plates at 500 yards all day long. #Gratifying
As life fast forwarded and my LE career was wrapping up, I was fortunate enough to become involved with Springfield Armory. (That little-boy-paging-through-gun-magazines’ dreams were definitely exceeded!)
I also found myself interested in shooting rifle events again. And, it just so happened that in January of 2015, my buddy Rob Leatham called and asked, “Do you want to go to Camp Perry and shoot the M1A Match with me?”
I immediately knew the answer, but wanted to play it cool. I called him back a few days later… or was it a few minutes later? And since Camp Perry was on my bucket list, and life moves really fast, and of course I wanted to go, I excitedly said, “OH YEAH! “ But then I tell Rob that the only M1A I have is my Scout, and I ask, “Can I use that?” He said I could, but also suggested that he had a few rifles that might be better; more accurate, and actually set up for High Power style rifle shooting.
Who am I to turn that kind of offer down?
Next thing I know, Rob and I are heading out to the range to begin zeroing his rifles so we can practice. Rob’s two rifles were basically Super Match set ups. He chose the really nice Camo Super Match and he loaned me the older wooden stock rifle. It was basically a predecessor to the current Springfield Super Match, and it was really accurate and shot awesome!
After months of practice, we finally arrived at Camp Perry. I was humbled by the history of the place and duly impressed by the size of the ranges. I was told it is the largest shooting range in the country. It’s truly an amazing sight to experience!
Rob and I shot the match, and of course, he barely beats me! My guess is it had to be the rifle he shot, versus the rifle he “loaned” me to shoot! 🙂 #Setup
CAMP PERRY EFFECT
Thanks to Camp Perry, I was now really ready to get the M1A Super Match that I’ve always wanted, and upon my return, I promptly placed my order at Springfield. I got my rifle and, as advertised, it was awesome! I ordered the Camo fiberglass stock model and immediately took it to the range for zeroing. It shot every bit as well as I expected and anticipated — it was outstanding!
Fast forward to the Summer of 2018, and I make my way back to Camp Perry to participate again in the annual M1A event with MY Super Match. Needless to say, the Super Match shot great and I destroyed Rob’s score!* See, I told you he gave me the less-accurate rifle!
*Did I forget to mention that Rob didn’t actually shoot the match in 2018? 🙂
Joking aside, this year’s Springfield Armory M1A Match at Camp Perry had over 350 shooters — That firing line is another incredible sight to see! I spoke with so many other competitors while there, and they all said their love of the M1A rifle is the reason they shoot this match. Most stated too that they shoot their M1As at local High Power matches all throughout the year.
I also have several friends who currently shoot and have shot High Power rifle competition for many moons. In a nutshell, all of them have told me the same things about the beloved M1A:
It is extremely competitive.
It does very well in the high-power matches.
It holds its own against anything on the firing line.
Most prefer the lower recoil of the AR-pattern rifles — which is why they shoot them.
And without exception, whenever I go to the range and break out my M1As, I am asked by other shooters if they can look at my rifle. After they check it out, I usually get several questions, and most of them eventually tell me, “I’ve always wanted an M1A…