I recently had the opportunity to compete in two National-level shooting matches: the Daisy/USJCC Junior Three-Position Precision and Sporter Air Rifle Championship held in Bowling Green, Ky., and the National Three-Position Junior Olympics (JO) held in Anniston, Ala. The Daisy was July 6-8 and the Junior Olympics were July 10-12, so it was a long week of shooting and traveling, but definitely well worth it.
First up was the Daisy. The match was held at Western Kentucky University, in an athletic facility. I had actually competed in two other matches there a few years ago, so I was familiar with the facilities and set up, which made things easier for me. I came in 8th place overall, out of 27 other precision-class competitors, so I did all right. It was my first time making the finals in a national match, which was fun. This was actually the first final I have seen that was all girls. Usually at least one guy makes it, but this time the highest scoring boy was in 9th. All in all, I had a great time and this match was a good warm-up for the Junior Olympics.
In the past, the JO was held in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University, but this year it moved to Anniston, Ala., because the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) built a new range there. I certainly like competing on a real range much better compared to the gym at WKU. The CMP range is very nice. It’s well-lit, clean and I like the target hanging system because it eliminates guessing the correct height to hang your targets.
This year I qualified for the JO as an individual at large, which means I shot at least 580 out of 600 possible points (my actual qualification score was 585). I am very happy with the results. It was a tough match, but lots of fun. Overall, I placed 35th out of 162, which compared to placing 8th at the Daisy may not seem very impressive, but there were significantly more competitors at the JO and the competition was much tougher. The folks that come to the JO are some of the top junior athletes in the country and some of the best from their respective states. This year a team from Mexico competed, adding some international competition as well.
I gave both matches my best shot and had a great time. I always enjoy competing at national level events because it is fun to see how you stack up against the rest of the country. Shooting in matches you have to travel to, especially out of state, is excellent experience because it adds variables that you can’t reproduce on your home range. It’s also fun to meet people from different parts of the country, as well as see old friends you only get to see a few times a year at big matches like these.