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Ron Granroth, Coach Ben Seppala Ben Granroth
Arrival at Camp Perry - National Champion Junior Pistol Team - Ben G & Ben S
The National Champion Junior team is called the "MRPA Juniors". The picture shows, standing, l to r: Joe Tekelly (MRPA Coach), Ben Seppala, Teresa Meyer, Cory Brown. Kneeling are Lauren Duthie & Ben Granroth.
Ben Granroth, Ben Seppala, and their coach, Ron Granroth, competed at the National Rifle Association’s National Pistol Matches held during the week of July 9th at Camp Perry, located on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio. The N.R.A.’s shooting championships have enjoyed a long history since the sponsorship of their first competition at Creedmoor, New York in 1873.
The two young men, sixteen year old Juniors at Chassell High School, are former students of Granroth’s Junior Shooting Sports Camp and also junior members of The Michigan Rifle and Pistol Association. They entered the competition at Camp Perry on an individual level as well as on a team level, representing the Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club and its commitment to area youth. The M.R.P.A. Junior Team, a large contingent of Michigan shooters, is divided into smaller teams according to their shooting classifications.
The trio checked in at Camp Perry at midday Sunday, July 8th, received their registration packets, the Small Arms Firing School packets and were assigned to one of the hundreds of huts constructed to house Prisoners of War during World War II. Coach Granroth said their hut, a sparse 14 x 14 ft. enclosure, had to be debugged with a whole can of Raid and needed a thorough cleaning before it could be occupied for the next 8 days. Meals consisted of military fare served up at the camp PX.
Events got under way early Monday morning when the Bens attended the Small Arms (pistol) Firing School. The school, a two day learning experience, was conducted by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, along with all the Services Pistol Teams.
Match competition began on Wednesday with nearly 1,000 of the nation’s top shooters vying for glory in Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert, and High Master classifications.
Wednesday’s match, the Preliminary Championship Match, consisted of firing 30 rounds of ammunition 3 times. The first thirty rounds were shot with a .22 caliber pistol, the second offered the use of a choice of .32 through .45 caliber center fire pistols and the last thirty rounds were required to be fired with only a .45 caliber pistol.
The true competition began on Thursday with all classes shooting a 90 round match using their .22 calibers. In this event, individuals shot first in three groups, which was then followed by the Team Competition. The Center Fire Pistol Championships got underway Friday, the .45 Caliber Championships were held Saturday and the Service Pistol Matches, which the men did not compete in, were held Sunday.
Coach Granroth got knocked out of competition when his pistol suffered a bulged barrel in the final match. His misfortune, however, was more than made up for by the performance of Ben Granroth and Ben Seppala.
"I was extremely proud of the great job by both boys in the individual and team competitions", said Granroth. He went on to explain that in the individual competition, and among 82 civilian shooters of all ages in his class, Ben Seppala, who is the son of Hal and Kay Seppala of Chassell, finished right in the middle of the pack. "This is especially remarkable", said Granroth, "in that Seppala has only been shooting the .45 since this spring. With a little more experience, he’s going to be really great!" Combining the total of the three matches, Ben Seppala finished in the middle third of the Marksmanship Class at 52.
Ben Granroth, after a good, but somewhat personally disappointing, 56th place finish in the individual .22 match, came right back and qualified as #11 and High Junior Marksman in the Center Fire Championships. He crowned this honor by also taking 2nd place plus High Junior Marksman in the .45 Championships. Ben is the son of Coach Granroth and his wife, Donna, also of Chassell.
Combining the total of the three individual class matches, Seppala finished in the middle third with Ben Granroth finishing 12th and just missing the cut for the NRA-USA National Civilian Pistol Team. "With this being only their first experience with shooting at the Nationals, these are pretty impressive and fabulous finishes for both boys", said Coach Granroth.
The real glory came, however, with the Team Competition. According to Granroth, "Both Bens made up 2/5ths of a junior team sponsored by the Michigan Rifle & Pistol Association. This team led by Teresa Meyer, Team Captain, and joined by Lauren Duthie and Cory Brown of downsate Michigan, won all three matches to become the new National Champion Junior Pistol Team!"
"It was a great week, and all three of us are looking forward to 2002 when we hope to go back to Camp Perry with an Ottawa Sportsmen’s Club Junior Team", said Ron Granroth.
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