Expert Marksman Makes the President's 100

Written by Teresa Dennard.

Buddy Reich places #53 out of 100

Laid back in the Piney Woods of Panola County is a club that is probably more familiar to outsiders than local residents. People from all over the Eastern Texas Region as well as the Ark-La-Tex, come to participate in the competitions held the first Saturday of each month. Organized as the Panola County Gun Club in 1979 by Ben Sepaugh and Wilburn Spiller, the Club currently has over 200 members. Sepaugh, who shot high power competition in the military, met Spiller and discovered he also shot high power in competition, but as a civilian. They decided to organize the club. The range, located 3 miles east of the Sabine River on FM 2517, was built in 1986. “We did most of the work ourselves,” said Sepaugh, “and whoever we could scrounge up. We had our first match in 1987 and have had monthly NRA matches ever since.”

 Through the years, the PCGC has acquired a membership of expert marksmen. One such marksman is Panola County resident Buddy Reich. A competitive shooter since the age of 17, Reich just recently became involved with shooting high power. “I came to know a fella named Rick Crawford from Longview,” recalls Reich. “He was a High Power Director and also an officer of the Texas State Rifle Association. He hounded me for a year or so to get a service rifle and give it a try. He invited me to a competition and one of the high powered shooters handed me a loaner rifle. I had a loaner jacket and within 3 weeks I had my own rifle. That’s been a little over a year ago, and I haven’t put it down since. Rick was a mentor in the shooting sports. He was a Distinguished Rifleman, a High Master Shooter, State Champion several times, plus a high level competitor on the national level. He passed away about a year and a half ago at the age of 57.  I didn’t know him very long, but his death really affected me. He was just a really dedicated guy to the sport.” 

This past August, Reich traveled to Camp Perry in Ohio to compete in the President’s 100. According to the Civilian Marksmanship Program, 1200 shooters compete to be in the top 100.  Making the President’s 100 is one of the most distinguished and prestigious honors a shooter can ever attain. Reich ranked #53 out of the 1200. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager and finally got to do it at 57.”

Reich was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and attended the San Marcos Academy where he first began competitive shooting. He credits his expert marksmanship to his father. “When I was 6 years old, he taught me the basics right so that when I entered high school and started formal target shooting, the skills were there. Plus, I think there’s a God-given talent as well.” He moved to Panola County to pursue a job in forestry. For 9 months out of the year he does forestry inventories, and the other three he is a professional trapper. “I trap mainly bobcats and coyotes. My trap line will run from Carthage down to Shelbyville and cover between 6-10,000 acres. I work 7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day during those 3 months, so I don’t get much time to practice my shooting. Starting in March I will work to make the Texas Gold team which is the top team that represents the State of Texas at Camp Perry. It’s a tremendous honor and responsibility and nobody is guaranteed a spot.”

Very active in the local gun club, Reich likes to encourage people to get involved in the shooting sports, especially the youth. “I want to try to do everything I can to encourage people to get involved. It’s a great sport for all ages. It’s a lifetime sport. It’s something you can do from the time you’re 10 years old until you’re gone. We like to see young people coming out of smallbore (.22 rifle) such as in the 4-H program, or even just showing up and never even having participated in this type of sport. We have entire families that participate, girls included. One family has members that range from 16 years old up to 70 years old.” Many of the members at the PCGC encourage interested persons to just come out and watch what takes place at the weekend matches. “The wonderful thing about the shooting sports is that there’s always a hand…like at our club at Panola,” explains Reich, “If you have a person that comes in there that wants to watch and shows an interest in what we’re doing, the seasoned shooters will get ahold of that individual and do everything in their power to explain to them what’s involved as far as equipment they need, the outlay of cash, and the time and commitment necessary to be competitive. There’s always help.  It doesn’t matter if they’re 14 years old or 70 years old…it’s the same regardless. We have heart surgeons, psychiatrists, lawyers, people from all walks of life. They don’t go by doc or colonel. Everything is by first name and everybody’s on an equal level…no social levels. It’s not cheap, but it’s not as expensive as planes and race cars!”

For more information, visit the PCGC website or the Texas State Rifle Association. The Regional Championship will be held at the PCGC April 26-28, 2013. Visitors are welcome to watch.