Dan Wiswell of Hampden has his AR-15 .22-caliber rifle strapped down to a sled for a target shooting session at the Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

Some of the top competitive shooters from Maine and across the country will converge on Hampden this weekend.

The Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club is gearing up for its biggest day of the year as it hosts the Trident Armory Standby to Fly Benefit Match. This year, the event also will encompass the United States Practical Shooting Association’s Maine State Championship.

Trident Armory of Hermon and the Trident Armory Shooting Team are joining forces with the Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club for the Standby to Fly match. It is the third year of the competition, which raises money for organizations that assist veterans.

“We’re getting competitors from all across the nation. We’ve got people flying in from Alaska, Texas, the Midwest, Florida [and] the Carolinas,” said Trident Armory Shooting Team competitor and Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club member Zac Greenier of Hampden.

This year’s beneficiaries are the Maine Veterans Project and the Summit Project based in Scarborough, two non-profit entities.

The HRPC expects more than 160 competitors, including several previous national champions, along with family members, spectators and volunteers, to descend on the club located at 268-310 Meadow Road.

“The fact that this is a benefit match, raising money for veterans, really sets this aside from many other matches,” Greenier said.

The event, now in its third year, has grown tremendously since its inception in 2019. It was patterned after a match in New Hampshire called Aiming for Zero, which raises money for veterans suicide prevention.

The inaugural Standby to Fly match was a one-day event and benefitted the Windy Warrior Project, part of the Maine Veterans Project, and brought in $9,000. The idea quickly caught on.

Last year, while taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was expanded to three days of shooting with 78 competitors. That event raised $17,000 for House in the Woods in Lee.

The reward for the shooters is bragging rights and trophies, but the benefits for veterans are more significant. With entry fees, a silent auction, raffle ticket sales and increased corporate sponsorships, organizers expect this year’s Standby to Fly match to provide more than $30,000 for the charities.

The three-day competition, a USPSA Level II match, begins on Friday and runs through Sunday. The match starts at 9 a.m. each day.

The reputation of the Standby to Fly Benefit Match seems to have created a buzz among competitive shooters and entities that want to support the causes.

“We’ve been showing people a good time over the last couple of years, having some success,” said Trident Armory shooter Chris Austin of Hampden. “Having some progressively bigger and bigger names drawn to this one has helped.”

Members of the Hampden VFW will be on hand all weekend to provide breakfast and lunch. The Spencer’s Ice Cream truck will also be there, as well as numerous vendors.

“We’re really trying to market it as family-oriented. Bring your eye protection, bring your ear protection and bring the family for a fun day,” Greenier said.

For more information on the Standby to Fly Match and USPSA Maine State Championship, follow the Trident Armory Shooting Team on Facebook and Instagram.

Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor...