White Oak Armament is one of many companies that help sponsor CMP marksmanship events. Today we’re sharing more about the origins of White Oak and some notable new developments the company currently has in the works.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program conducts many highpower rifle events each year, and it’s no secret that competitors continuously look for an edge over fellow shooters. Whether it’s rifles, ammunition or gear, they’re always looking for ways to improve.
Competing with a great rifle is an important place to start. So, John Holliger, founder of White Oak Armament, has taken his 30 years of his firing line experience to work. For the past 20 years, Holliger’s company has been a source for quality barrels, upper and lower parts, as well as unique accessories, delivered with friendly, knowledgeable service.
Whether it’s a CMP EIC rifle match or other competition, Holliger wants to provide competitors with the same chance to take them to higher levels in the sport.
In 2020, Holliger helped jump-start CMP’s new Home Series Appreciation Series of events – a set of postal competitions fired from home ranges of individuals from around the country and scored alongside others. The Series was created to help fill the gap created by the cancellation of the 2020 National Matches, and the idea began in a small shop in Illinois – Holliger’s White Oak Armament.
“When the National Matches got cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus, I really felt we needed to have some sort of national event where shooters from across the country could compete and compare scores,” Holliger explained. “Postal matches are used a lot in smallbore and air rifle for this purpose, so I thought maybe we could give it a go in highpower.”
“I am really happy the CMP was able to pull it off in such a short time,” he added.
Though competitors won’t be able to physically step onto the ranges of Camp Perry this year, White Oak will still be helping competitors through its sponsorship of the Home Range Series of events – it’s all part of the commitment to the support of marksmanship and individuals the company continuously strives to achieve.
When Holliger was asked what has driven him to pursue gun building for the last two decades, he said “I would not have devoted that much time to it if I did not have a passion for the sport,” he said after a recent CMP event.
A Distinguished Rifleman since 1988, Holliger has earned several highpower honors over the years, like winning the CMP Pershing Trophy in 2000 as high scorer in the National Trophy Team match at Camp Perry.
The NTT win is just one of his recent achievements, following a double-digit appearance in the President’s 100 Rifle match, and success as a multiple champion of the Illinois Short Course, Service Rifle and Highpower events. Along the way he has marked a trail with several team and individual national records.
A familiar face at CMP competitions, Holliger’s passion for marksmanship not only provided him with a hobby, but eventually, a career that has allowed him the chance to make a difference within the sport for current and future generations.
Holliger started building guns for himself and others back in the 1980s – spending most of his efforts working on M1A rifles, the civilian semi-automatic version of the Army’s M14 which ruled service rifle competitions during the time. He also spent nearly eight years as an armorer and coach for the Illinois Junior team.
“It was a great learning opportunity,” he said. “They had a bunch of guns built and rebuilt by several different armorers, so I was able to see how different gunsmiths did things.”
Of course, as with most junior teams, funds were limited. Holliger did a lot of swapping and repairing of parts on his own, trying to build the most efficient rifles possible from what they had available.
When it became apparent that the AR-15 was going to take over service rifle competition in 1994, Holliger attended classes and started learning all he could about that platform and moved on to servicing rifles that remain the standard highpower service rifle today.
By 2000, he had become experienced and busy enough with gunsmithing to quit his day job and started working on firearms full time – thus, White Oak Armament was born.
Named after the township in Illinois where it’s located, White Oak’s goal has always been to provide competitors with equipment that will allow them to compete at the highest level and to do it at a fair price, with reasonable delivery times.
“When I got into the sport in the mid-1980s, it was hard to find someone to build a rifle, and many of them had backlogs over a year,” Holliger said. “I wanted to do what I could to diminish that obstacle for the new competitor. The AR-15 has helped greatly in this regard, as they do not require nearly the amount of hand fitting that the M1A did, and they don’t break every other match like the M1A seems to do.”
Over the years, the company has expanded from simply gunsmithing to other equipment needs, like mounting kits, wrenches, springs, lubricants, and newly designed products that Holliger has created from his own experience.
“Standing at my lathe all day making barrels gives me plenty of time to think up crazy ideas,” he joked.
Recently his White Oak team has tested their own scope, designed with the service rifle competitor in mind, and hopes to have it available by mid-summer. It’s got all the features you’d expect, along with a few unique features that won’t be found on any other scope – ones he has found necessary through his own field research as a competitor.
“The last several years of shooting a scope has given me some pretty strong ideas about what is needed in a service rifle scope,” he said. “We are really looking forward to getting these on the market.”
Holliger’s relationship with the CMP has helped extend his company’s reach by giving others more opportunities through sponsorships throughout the year – something he is particularly proud of.
“Match sponsorship is another way for me to express that passion and to give something back to the sport,” he said. “Our relationship with the CMP also allows me to keep the White Oak name in front of our core customer. We are a small company, but highpower, in general, and service rifle, in particular, is what we do – so our relationship with the CMP is a very important one to us.”
As time moves forward, encouraging others in the sport remains one of Holliger’s greatest business accomplishments. Whether earning a Distinguished Rifleman badge, winning the Nathan Hale Trophy or making the President’s 100 at the National Matches, Holliger maintains his fulfillment comes from his products producing top results for his customers.
“One thing that gives me great satisfaction is the trust that competitors put in White Oak and our products,” he said. “Service rifle competitors invest a lot into their shooting – not just time and money, but they are emotionally invested as well. It is important that they have equipment that will perform at a level that will help them get a return on that investment.”
“We take the trust they put in us very seriously and strive to earn that trust by providing equipment and services that will help our customers achieve that return.”
To learn more about White Oak Armament and to view current products, visit their website at https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has been regularly involved with White Oak Armament since 2013. The gun parts and equipment company has served as a generous sponsor through a variety of events like many of our highpower, National Matches and CMP Games matches.
The CMP is grateful for the opportunity to consistently work with so many organizations that are as passionate about marksmanship as we are. We appreciate their commitment to safety, program advancement and to offering quality services to our supporters. We look forward to working with them to continue the enhancement of marksmanship opportunities now and into the future.
Find out more about sponsorship opportunities at https://thecmp.org/sponsorship/.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.