Young Shooters Bloom at 2018 Daisy BB Gun Championships
The Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match (DNBBGCM) has become an important tradition among shooters: Anyone who becomes involved in competition BB gun shooting and attends the event is instantly hooked, as evidenced by the number of 20-, 25- and 30-year coaches who returned to lead the next generation of shooters. It's the premier 5-meter, 4-position BB Gun match in the world, but its primary focus is and always has been teaching safety, enjoying camaraderie and having family-friendly fun. The DNBBGCM is held annually at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Arkansas, and brings together the best BB Gun shooters in the country aged 8 to 15. Teams must qualify for the event by coming in first, second or third in a state NRA-sanctioned match. Although everyone who attends the DNBBGCM is already a winner, at the end of the 2018 “Daisy Nationals” it was the Wyandotte County 4-H team out of Kansas City, Kansas, that took the medal podium to accept gold medals and the traveling first place trophy. In a nail-biting competition, Wyandotte County 4-H took the win by a single point over the Pierre Junior Shooters out of Pierre, South Dakota, the team that won the last two National Championships.
Erica Berger, shooting for the Gallatin Valley Sharpshooters from Bozeman, Montana, won the individual shooter National Championship, scoring just one-tenth of a point over Allee Smith (Pierre Junior Shooters). Third to first in the individual division was separated by just .4 points.
More than 50 teams from across the nation competed in this year’s National Championship. Teams are comprised of five shooters, and often, two alternates. Alternates shoot for their own National Championship, as do “Champions,” shooters who competed last year. If competitors shoot in this year’s event, they must return as Champions for a year before being allowed to shoot with their regular team the following year.
This year’s Match, held June 30-July 3, brought approximately 2,000 shooters, former champions, coaches and parents to Northwest Arkansas. Teams came from as far as Georgia, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin and south Texas. Any community or educational organization can form a team as long as it follows the curriculum outlined by Daisy, which features hours of classroom gun-safety and education work prior to ever touching a gun. In fact, before the match each competitor must take a test covering gun safety and match rules, and their score on that test makes up 20 percent of their final score. This year 19 competitors made a perfect score on the test.
As always, the 53rd annual event featured plenty of fun, action and emotion beyond the shooting competition. The Barter Bar, in which competitors bring items representing their states (which can include everything from homemade crafts and wildlife-related items to cans of “Potted Possum” meat and professional sports jerseys) and swap them amongst the crowd.
Other events include a Parade of Champions at the opening ceremonies in which many team wears costumes or coordinated clothing or custom T-shirts of their own design. This year, Academy Sports and Outdoors sponsored these side contests and presented the winners with $500 gift cards.
The Match also includes a Painted Gun contest. Each competitor must shoot the Daisy 499B Champion BB Gun, the most-accurate 5-meter competition BB gun in the world, and may decorate it any way they choose. Many guns look as sharp as sports cars or follow a particular theme. First, second and third place winners were awarded Academy Sport and Outdoors gift cards in the amount of $300, $200 and $100 respectively.
Daisy also inducts a longtime leader in the BB gun shooting sports into its Hall of Fame. This year, Jim Eberwein, who has been a coach in Kansas for more than 30 years, and is responsible for expanding and growing the program throughout the Sunflower State, was inducted into this exclusive club.
A final highlight of the event was an appropriate send off for a Daisy employee who has planned, organized and administered the event for the past 15 years, Denise Johnson. Known by competition BB gun shooters and coaches as the “BB Gun Lady,” she’s become a well-known figure in the industry and is much-loved by the community. She retires after 39 years with Daisy.
While the program instills responsibility, control and focus on the shooter (especially for youth who have focus or attention issues), and to reach the National Championship takes many hours of hard work, this final event pays off with four days that are just for the shooters. In addition to the cheers and tears of competition, the fun and camaraderie creates lifelong memories.
For more information on the event and instructions on how to create a team to compete in this exciting match, go to www.daisy.com.
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