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Eagle Creek man sets sights on competing at the world level

by: contributed photos Abraham Kamerman takes aim during a competition last weekend, March 26-27.

In 2004, at 17, Abraham Kamerman, a dedicated Boy Scout who was well on his way to attaining Eagle Scout rank, left camp for the summer. He returned home to Eagle Creek with a partial merit badge in shooting and a desire to finish what he had started.

When asked if he could, at that time, he couldn't have imagined that within a decade he would go from picking up his first rifle to training to represent the United States at a world championship.

Kamerman says, 'Nope,' before going on to acknowledge, 'It's pretty amazing.'

Kamerman, 24, is one of 14 young shooters, under 25, selected from across the country to represent the U.S. as a member of the Young Eagles Palma Rifle team at the upcoming Palma Trophy matches in Brisbane, Australia, in October.

In order to qualify, Kamerman, who is ranked a high master in his sport and is already a member of the 40-person development team, had to compete at three qualifiying matches in order to make the final cut.

The oldest of five children and raised in Eagle Creek, Kamerman, who still lives in the area, works full time as an appliance repairman and spends up to 10 hours a week competing.

That's every weekend from mid-February to early December on the course.

This year alone Kamerman will take close to 13 weeks off work to attend competitions across Oregon, the nation and, for the first time, across the world.

The hobby, which started as a Boy Scouts merit badge and turned into an interest with the Estacada Rod and Gun Club's Junior program - where Kamerman shot a high-power service rifle and has competed nationally at Camp Perry in Ohio every year since 2005 - has followed Kamerman into adulthood as he continues to shoot high power service rifles and (for the last three years) the Palma Rifle on long range courses.

In 2010, Kamerman attained the rank of high master, a feat that required him to shoot with 97 percent accuracy - that's a minimum of 437 out of a possible 450 points per match - consistently over a series of several matches.

'You have to be consistent and do everything the same every time,' he says. 'It's challenging; the conditions are always changing. Some days it's sunny, some days it's raining. Some days the wind blows hard.'

When Kamerman first picked up a rifle to compete, he joined the ranks of a sporting tradition that traces its roots to the American Civil War and the founding of the National Rifle Association.

Palma rifle competitions started in 1876, and today the sport is practiced all over the world. In Palma rifle long range competitions, the shooters fire at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards for a combined total of up to 450 points per match.

Sometimes competitions will range over the course of several days, and the aggregate scores from several matches will be used to determine a winner.

When competing, Kamerman is aiming for a 10-inch space on a larger target - this target, that shooters aim for, resembles a pinprick from 1,000 yards. In competitions, no high-powered scopes are allowed, so Kamerman and the other competitors are quite literally eyeballing their targets through sights that have, at most, a lens or two that provide no more than a .5 magnification. It's a sport that requires dedication, technique and, above all, patience.

Ken Littlefield, the manager of the Young Eagles team, has known Kamerman for six years, and has watched over that time as his skill as a shooter has developed.

'He's just a wonderful, wonderful young man,' Littlefield says of Kamerman. 'He's easygoing, and he always brings joy to the team. As a shooter he's become outstanding; he hasn't always been that way, but things just started clicking last year, and he's become a really outstanding Palma shooter.'