The Marksman: Russell’s Randy Ent steals the show as rifleman at CMP Oklahoma Games

You won’t hear it from Randy Ent himself, but he’s one of the top rifle shooters around.

“It’s something I can do,” the humble Russell-native said three years ago, when he was featured in the Times Observer for winning at John C. Garand Match at the Eastern CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) Games in Camp Butner, N.C. “I can’t run, can’t play ball, and I don’t care about golf.”

Since moving on from pistol shooting to as-issued World War I- and World War II-era military rifles, the 60-year-old non-military civilian has been hooked, and he’s excelled.

Nothing says it better than the results of the The Oklahoma CMP Games last month at the Oklahoma City Gun Club. With the Oklahoma event in its second year, the competition added a fourth gun, so the categories and guns included the M1 John C Garand rifle, Springfield Match, Vintage Military Match and the new Modern Military Rifle Match.

Ent finished with a 288 out of 300, with two bullseyes, to win the John C. Garand Match, out of 93 shooters; he finished with 291X300, with seven bullseyes, to win the Modern Military Match, out of 24; he won the 3-Gun Aggregate category, out of 99 shooters, with an 841X900, with eight bullseyes, and; adding the Modern Military Match to the fold, Ent also won the 4-Gun Aggregate category, out of 103, with a 1,132X1,200, with 15 bullseyes.

All that from a guy who doesn’t even keep track of scores when he’s shooting, he admits.

“When I go into read the bulletin board at the end of the day, then I know,” said Ent.

Don’t get him wrong; he knows how well he’s doing while he’s shooting.

“At this level, when you get anything less than a 7 (out of a possible 10 on the rifle targets), it goes through your head that is going to come back to haunt me,” said Ent.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) was originally founded to train civilians, who might join or be needed in the military, in rifle marksmanship. These days, its website describes itself as a “national organization dedicated to training and educating U.S. citizens in responsible uses of firearms and air guns through gun safety training, marksmanship training, and competitions.”

The thing is, it’s almost a secret around Warren County, as there aren’t any serious rifle ranges until you get to Bradford or Ridgway.

“Back in the day you could buy these 1903 Springfields and M1 Garands for less than $100; now they are like $500 to $800,” said Ent.

In addition to Sheffield rifle shooters Mike Grubbs, Stan Orinko and Rich Pollock, Ent has mentored a former Marine that he works with at United Refining Company, in Richard Sullivan.

In addition to few places to shoot rifles in an area dominated by trapshooters and shotguns, Ent said, “we only have three months (of the year to shoot).”

There are extensive programs and valuable instructors for beginners on up in places like Camp Perry, Ohio. For information, visit odcmp.com.

There’s also the competition aspect, which is what we’re talking about here. But it all starts with the basic fundamentals – “site picture, trigger control, and keeping your equipment in order,” said Ent, “and keeping yourself in order.

“To quote a good friend, ‘Everything is in your mind… if you ain’t in it, you ain’t in it.’ When you step up to the firing line you can’t be thinking about (anything else)….

“Or you don’t get all your shots off in the rapid fire stage,” said Ent. “In 70 seconds… you start from standing, and with your M1 your bolt is closed on an empty chamber, but just two rounds in the rifle. When the target comes up, you can lay down and start firing. After two shots, you reload with eight. And you have to get those shots off in 70 seconds.

“If there’s anything that has me move up in points … it’s the ability to shoot off-hand,” he said.

Thousands and thousands of practice rounds off-hand separates himself as a shooter.

Ent also believes his friendship and partnership with his traveling partner – Sullivan – “is very important to me,” he said.

“I enjoy that (mentorship) part of it and try to help him out and get organized,” said Ent. “He’s just coming up (in the shooting game, Ent said of the former Marine).”

On trips, Ent said the two strategize based on conditions, etc., “and I really appreciate him being there.”

At the Oklahoma CMP Games, Sullivan earned his first CMP medal, using an M1-A in the Modern Military discipline- an offshoot of the M1 Garand, which was used in Vietnam.

But it wasn’t his first medal of any kind as a rifleman; he was an expert rifleman as a U.S. Marine more than 20 years ago.

“I wanted to be a Marine before I was even 10 years old,” said Sullivan, “so I think (shooting now 20 years later) all kind of ties together. Every Marine is a rifleman, and there is a rifleman’s creed that we learn, for self-discipline and the honing of skills and abilities, and self improvement. Not having done it for 20 years, I knew it would come back.

“Randy keeps saying we’re in this together and that’s what gives me the patience for myself,” said Sullivan. “I like being able to give moral support. That really helps a lot in the shooting disciplines. A lot of this is a head game. You get in your own head and it starts working against you.”

Sullivan is getting more and more passionate about the sport.

Ent was in love with it almost immediately, and now shoots all of the guns an equal amount, and, it seems, with an equal amount of passion.

“In 1990, I was watching them shoot pistols and thought, ‘I can do that,’ and that was it,” said Ent. “”I plan on shooting until something happens that I can’t anymore.”