It began in 1966, and since then Daisy Outdoor Products has remained true to its mission to provide a 5-meter, four-position BB-gun match, exclusively for athletes ranging in age from 8 to 15 years old. Today it is the largest annual nationwide event for the discipline.
The match continues to grow and attracted a record number of teams for 2015—68—from across the nation and attendance during the opening ceremony in Rogers, AR, exceeded 2,100. Every member who claimed the first championship attended the 50th anniversary match. One is a paleontology professor, another a noted painter and then there’s the businessman who oversaw a company’s operations in Europe, where he was responsible for a 3,000-employee roster and the firm’s overseas operations until he retired early. During their speeches, all emphasized the concentration, discipline and ability to focus on the target/goal they learned on the firing line were among their most valuable assets.
Today there’s more vying for a youth’s attention than five decades ago, though, including cable TV, the Internet, instant messaging and gaming stations. What’s the captivation for today’s shooters?
Eleven-year-old Tony Stacy, from the winning Walton County 4-H BB Team (Georgia) has been shooting this discipline for two years and claims it’s better than sitting behind a videogame controller. “It’s fun,” he said. “It gets you out of town, you travel, get to make friends….and you’re shooting a BB gun.” The fifth grader, who was an alternate at the match, made the honor roll for the first time this year. His father, Keith Stacy, said he's always been a good student, but admitted, “He’s really learned to focus.”
Maddox Ford, from Nottaway County, VA, had an unusual take for an 11-year-old. “When you make that first shot you’re alive and you’re doing something you can do for life.” His father, Troy Ford, said it’s unlike most other sports because the very first practice saw him fitted with an Avanti Champion BB gun and put on the firing line. “Learning by doing is what got him hooked,” he explained. As for improvements in other aspects in life, he said, “He was always kind of quiet…This has broken him out of his shell. It gives him more confidence in school and church.”
Walton County’s Daniel Peters, a 14-year-old, has been on the team for six years and has made the trip to Rogers, Arkansas, three times. The A and B student was quick to explain, “I don’t play video games,” which helps with twice-weekly practices from January to July. “I’ve learned discipline, concentration and perseverance,” he said. “Focus on one shot at a time. Everything you do is in the past. Concentrate on the here and now.”
When asked what he finds toughest at the championship, he was quick to answer, “The test.” That written exam covers a wide host of safety and competition rules, and it counts toward each shooter’s score and the team’s total. This year a record 43 competitors didn’t miss a single question.
There’s more to the championship than just the firing line time—these are kids, after all. This year included a Feed the Funnel party in which competitors helped pack high-in-nutrition meals for area needy. The barter bar, when children exchange trinkets from their various regions of the country, remained most popular, although the evening at the city’s new Aquatic Center came in a close second. Each year, to help defray travel expenses, Daisy presents each team that qualifies and attends with a $1,000 award.
The time invested by coaches can be considerable. William Carlan, Walton County’s coach, has been doing it for 22 years. Why? “It is a very enjoyable process,” he said. “They come in eager and excited….they grow as young people,” he said, adding it’s nice to, “see them develop the characteristics of good, solid people.” Howard Baker, coach of Washington County, Oregon, has more than 30 years of experience. “I enjoy working with the kids, and enjoy watching them develop,” he explained. “There’s more to it than just shooting a BB gun…it teaches responsibility and discipline.”
Officially this year, the Walton County 4-H BB Team from Monroe, GA, took the team gold medal with a score of 2387. The Palmyra BB Gun team from Palmyra, Pennsylvania, claimed the silver with 2372 and the DC Shooting Team from Armour, South Dakota, brought home bronze by scoring 2355.
Truthfully, though, every child was a winner the moment they qualified to attend—and a good indication there are great things ahead for this nation when this generation takes the helm. Full details on the program and how to get involved can be found on this Daisy web page.