On October 4th, 2009 the 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry finished the musket team match in just 382.3 seconds. That score is more than a minute faster than the next best finishing time posted by the powerhouse 110th OVI. With this achievement the 111th won their second Nationals Musket Match in 2 years.
I sent an email to Keith Davis, the team commander of the 111th, and sent him a number of questions. He was very kind to reply to me so quickly:
Q: What makes your team special / unique / the best?
Keith of 111th: A skirmish weekend is much more than just shooting. It is the fellowship, camping, camaraderie and interaction among a fine group of people in the N-SSA. We love to shoot and take pride in our performance, but the N-SSA is much more than just shooting. The unit is more like a family than a group of shooters.
Q: What did you and your team do to prepare for this National?
Keith of 111th: Nothing out of the ordinary. Primarily, we competed at the regional level. The location of the 111th allows us to compete in both our home region (Northwest Territory) as well as the Midwest Region. The Midwest has some of the most accomplished shooters in the association. When you compete against them, you are up against the best including the 110th Ohio, Union Guard, and 2nd KY. Some visitors to a Midwest Region skirmish once said, “you had better bring your A-game”.
Q: In the first event, the clay board, your team was more than 50 seconds behind the 110th OVI, did you know you’d be able to overcome that deficit?
Keith of 111th: We don’t concern ourselves too much with event times. We try to shoot each event at our very best and see where we finish. Our pigeon board time was ok; not great but just ok. The 110th Ohio had an incredible time. Half of my team watches the stats and the other half does not want to know. Most of us took six shots at the p. board so we knew it was a decent event.
Q: In the clay pot event you guys finished in a ridiculous 43.8 seconds, how’d you manage that? Did any member require more than two shots in this event?
Keith of 111th: We had an incredible time on the pot event. We dropped seven on the first volley and seven on the second. Only a couple of shooters took a third shot. The wind was kicking up a bit at that time and we tried not to let it affect our shooting or our attitudes. The event is tough enough without the wind so we did not need any additional pressure. It must have worked as you can see from our time.
Keith sent along some additional information about his team as well:
The 111th Ohio is the 24th most senior unit in the N-SSA. Many of us are descendents of family members who joined in the 1960s. Those of us shooting today remember the early days in the 70s when we could not clear a pigeon board. The first time we cleared a board was at a skirmish at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.
One of our early members (Bob Trost) took a vacation to Mackinaw Michigan and had a souvenir newspaper made with the headline “111th Wins Nationals at Winchester”. We never imagined that the headline would come true when we won the 117th Nationals some 38 years later. After winning the 117th, we had to have a team picture with that old newspaper.
Another interesting story was how Larry Flees and Mark Morton came to the N-SSA. Mark and Larry were on a business trip and stopped in Winchester as they also had an interest in the Civil War. They were visiting Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters and the lady inside asked if they were part of the shooters in town that weekend. They were not; in fact they knew nothing of the N-SSA. She explained a little about the N-SSA and told them how to get to Fort Shenandoah. They drove out and just as the climbed out of their car, the horn sounded and nearly 500 carbines started shooting the team match. They could not see the range but immediately knew they had to be a part of this group. They found a unit from their home state of Michigan and joined the following year.