- This event has passed.
On July 22 & 23, Range 35 at Camp Grayling will echo with the sights, sounds, and smells of historic ordnance, in use once again. A long range competition with historic ordnance is sponsored by Loomis’ Battery of Michigan light artillery at Camp Grayling and the public is invited to observe the activities.
Approximately twenty Civil War and Spanish American War field guns are expected to take part in the competition, as well as a dozen Civil War mortars. The use of historic cannon in modern recreational competition began back in the 1950’s and continues in various organizations, most notably in the North – South Skirmish Association east of the Mississippi, and the Civil War Skirmish Association, from there to the West Coast. Since most all of the completions are tied to private civilian ranges the historic cannon have rarely been fired beyond 200 yards, until the Camp Grayling matches began in 1990. Now the historic guns are firing at realistic ranges up to 1200 yards, and their real potential can be appreciated.
The Civil War saw the first use of rifled cannon and they predominate at the 1200 yard event, but bronze smoothbores also attend, firing at a realistic 500 yard range. Also attending in significant numbers are the smaller class “mountain rifles” as used in the 1860-1898 period. Most are early breechloaders of 1.65 inch caliber.
All ammunition is inert, but impacts are easily observed, making it interesting for spectators. Targeting is both “bullseye” and simulated counter-battery. Field guns fire 15 shots for score and five at replica field guns built as targets.
Spectators get an extra thrill out of the mortar match since the balls are quite large—from six to eight inches—and are easily seen throughout their slow trajectory. Mortars fire at a downrange flag and the winner is the one with the aggregate of closest hits, computed as the re-useable balls are recovered after the match.
The event is sponsored by Loomis’ Battery of Michigan Light Artillery, which was founded in 1960 to study and interpret the light artillery of the Civil War. Spectators with any interest in the big guns of the past will find the program on Saturday, July 22nd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. very interesting. A cash trophy rematch will also be fired the following day, simulating a documented event in January 1862 when the original Loomis’ Battery fired at a single newspaper sheet at 1000 yards. Also on Sunday, July 23rd, a brief mortar match will be fired as well as a match for smaller mountain-class artillery. The Sunday program will end by noon. The range can be accessed from the I-75 Business Loop to North Down River Road and follow the signs.
Ear protection and binoculars or spotting scopes are strongly recommended!