Interview with Mike Rouch, Young Skirmish Award Winner

by Mike Kendra on November 15, 2009

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Michael Rouch (right) with Commander Linwood (left) and NRA representitive (center) - 120th National Young Skirmish Award Winner. Photo provided by Mike Rouch.

I’d like to introduce you to Michael Rouch, the most recent Young Skirmish Award Winner, and a member of the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This 19-year-old young man has been awarded the Young Skirmish Award three times since he joined the N-SSA, and I thought it would be great to get an “exclusive” interview with him.

Q: What got you into skirmishing?

Mike: My family was by far what got me into skirmishing. Both my grandpa and dad spent countless hours practicing with me and making sure all my equipment was functioning properly for competition. Not many people are as fortunate as me to have a grandpa that has a unique set of skills for gun-smithing. Without him, I don’t know what would happen. My grandpa actually built the Mississippi Musket I use every year in competition. I also have to give tremendous credit to my dad. Being so involved with school and numerous other activities, I have little time to prepare for matches. I help cast bullets over the winter as much as I can, but my dad is the one to thank for making sure I always had plenty of rounds loaded for each competition. In addition, me, my dad and grandpa also practice weekly at my grandpa’s home range. This has more or less become like a tradition for the Rouchs. We always have every Wednesday night marked on our calendars throughout the Spring-Fall for our weekly practice. What makes it so fun is the friendly competition we have between each other. Aside from being very competitive, we know how to have fun.

Q: When did you join the N-SSA and what was your first skirmish like?

Mike: I joined in 2006 when I was 15 years old. I turned 15 in March of that year, so consequently my first skirmish was the Spring Nationals. I was fortunate enough to qualify for our teams “A” company Musket team that Nationals. Being my first skirmish, as well as my first nationals, I was nervous beyond belief. I had practiced so many times in preparation for the match, but nothing can overcome the heart-pounding nerves that settle in when you hear “Relay 1, one minute to the line”. Nonetheless, I was fortunate to pull together enough confidence and calm my nerves enough to shoot fairly decent. It was by far my most memorable skirmish as that year my team and I won the Company A National musket title (Also with three generations of Rouchs). As to be expected, I was overwhelmed. Also at that same Nationals I competed in the Carbine and Mortar competitions.

Q: What is so special about skimishing for you and your family?

Mike: If you don’t already know, my grandfather and father are both members of the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. My grandpa joined in 1991 and my dad followed him, joining in 1992. Back then the 110th didn’t have many national musket titles under their belt, so my grandpa and dad have seen a big progression from the team over the last 18 years. Now the team is fortunate enough to have one several titles over the last four to five years. However, one of the things I love most about the N-SSA is that it isn’t an organization to leave one out. Everyone in the family has something to do. Besides the men shooting, my grandmother also runs her own skirmish business, the “Miami Valley Sutler”. At every shoot my grandma has nearly every imaginable supply ready for the shoots. My mother, aside from always being on the line to support me, also assists my grandma in running the store at the competitions. So as you can see this is by and far a family tradition for the Rouch’s. I would have to say that the joy my family gets out of being together at the skirmishes is my favorite perspective of the N-SSA.

Q: According to the stats you scored a 181-02X to win the Young Skirmisher Award at the 120th National. What were the scores for each target?

Mike: My scores were a 91-01x at 50 yards, and a 90-01x at 100 yards. I was somewhat aggravated as my first five shots at 50yrds were a 49, but I guess it could’ve been much worse. I was satisfied overall.

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Mike with his award at the 115th National, May 2007. Photo provided by Mike Rouch.

Mike: With school I have been unable to attend every Nationals like I would like to, but I have managed to make 5 out of the last 8. Out of these five Nationals I have placed in the top 2 of the Young Skirmisher event each time. I have won the award three times (115th, 116th & 120th Nationals) and finished second twice (113th & 114th Nationals).

Q: What other medals have you won in N-SSA competition this year?

Mike: With the two aforementioned targets, I won 5th place 50/100yrd musket and 3rd place musket aggregate in class II. At that fall Nationals I also won third place A-1 carbine and 1st place class B smoothbore. At the 2009 regionals I have won various team and individual awards, one most notable was a 48-3x 25yrd smoothbore individual. For the 2009 season, I was also part of both the 110th’s A Musket and Carbine teams. Both of these teams won 1st place overall for the region in Carbine and Musket.

Q: What is your favorite skirmishing event and why?

Mike: Call me simple, but my favorite event is just the plain ol’ Bird Board. I do enjoy the occasional stake event or water-filled event at our regional matches, but I like the target rich environment that the pigeon board offers. With all of the speed shooters on our team, I may only get off 2 to 3 shots during a hanging event: However, with a bird board there are many more opportunities to shoot. To me, I just like the duration of it. It’s nice to not walk up the line, only to get a couple shots off J.

Q: Do you participate in other marksmanship events outside the N-SSA?

Mike: Ever since I was young I always wanted to be a member of the N-SSA. I was like the typical boy that always wanted to do whatever dad and grandpa were doing, and fortunate enough for me they were always shooting. Now, I told you that my first shoot was when I was fifteen, but I actually attended my first match much earlier. Since my dad started in 1992, I had the opportunity to observe at a young age. At just a year old, I went with my mom and dad to Friendship, Indiana to watch the ‘ol man shoot. So technically, I guess that was my first skirmish. However, as years went on I kept going to all the shoots watching dad and grandpa until eventually BB gun matches were started at Fort Shenandoah. From age 8 or 9 I competed in every BB gun match possible at the nationals and regionals at Camp Perry (I was lucky enough to win a few as well). Then around age 10 my dad and grandpa got me my first black powder weapon, a .32 caliber round ball gun. Ever since then I have been a regularly attending member of the Dayton Muzzle loading Gun Club and the Simon Kenton Longrifles Club near Dayton, Ohio. Both of these clubs meet once monthly year round. At these matches I compete in everything from the common monthly round ball match to flintlock matches, smoothbore matches, and bench rest competitions. I haven’t quite mastered the flint yet, but it’s a work in progress. I have much enjoyed competing at these for 7 years now.

Then the real fun started at age 12 when dad gave me one of his old Zouave Muskets. Around this time I was finally old enough to be on the practice line with dad and grandpa and didn’t have to just watch anymore. I practiced up until I was 15 and finally old enough to compete in the N-SSA. At that point I was hooked and now also shoot Carbine, Smoothbore, Breechloader, and mortar. So overall I have to thank my dad and grandpa. From my first Red Ryder BB gun, to my first musket, dad and grandpa have given me the tools that have started me in a lifetime hobby. School limits my free time quite often, but I’m always out on the firing line when time permits. So overall, my great family is to thank for everything I’ve accomplished today. I’m now a freshman in college attending Wright State University as a Pre-Medical student. I just now have to hope to make as many shoots as I can over the summers.

Again I’d like to thank Mike for answering all of my questions, and I’d like to wish him luck the next time he competes for medals at the National.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Scott Yarling December 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Really nice interview about a really great young man. Nice Job!

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