In order to win one of the country's most prestigious rifle competitions, Jared Perry of Porterville had to be perfect.
And even that didn't assure him of anything.
After Perry and U.S. Army Sgt. Tyrel Cooper both made history by shooting perfect 300 scores in the qualifying round of the 2012 President's Rifle Match, Perry bested the military marksman and 18 others in the final to capture the 134-year-old event July 30 in Camp Perry, Ohio.
"I've set other national records, but this one is going on the wall," Perry said. "It's easily the biggest accomplishment of my career."
Perry bested a field of 1,246 competitors, both military and civilian, over the 10-day event that includes team and individual shooting.
Visalia's Robert Gill, Perry's uncle, finished ninth overall, and their six-person California State Service Rifle Team took fifth.
Founded in 1878, the President's Rifle Match begins with a 30-shot qualification round comprised of slow-fire standing (200 yards), rapid-fire prone from standing (300 yards) and slow-fire prone (600 yards). The maximum score for each shot is 10, so a total of 300 points are possible.
Perry and Cooper, a member of the elite Army Marksmanship Unit, both turned in perfect 300 scores -- the first time that has ever happened -- but Cooper placed 17 shots inside the X (the smallest target) compared to Perry's 13.
The top 20 qualifiers reached the final, a shoulder-to-shoulder timed fire series of 10 shots from 600 yards. Here, Perry scored 98-3X compared to Cooper's 96-1X to capture the overall victory.
"It was one of those days where everything worked out," said Perry, a PG&E lineman who has been competition shooting since he was 10. "Kind of like a major-league pitcher who wakes up one day, feels great and goes out and throws a no-hitter."
Shooting competitions such as the President's Rifle Match differ from the Olympics in that the event is held outdoors, where wind is often a factor, and targets are significantly farther away. Also, Olympic shooters use air rifles. Contestants at the President's Rifle Match use AR-15s.
"It's a completely different discipline," Perry said.
Perry's previous best was a fifth-place finish in 2010. For his victory, he earned a presentation grade M1 rifle along with a custom trigger. Winners also traditionally receive a letter of congratulations from the president of the United States.
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